* * *
It’s the first week of March, and we’re nearing the end of the most winter-y winter I have experienced in almost ten years.
This past weekend, we braced ourselves for the 673rd snowstorm of the season. Thankfully, we only got about an inch or so. Nonetheless, when I decided to brave the cold for a walk on Monday, it only took being outside for about 90 seconds of mid-teens temps and wind for me to change my mind.
I do get outside most days, if only briefly. I go to work five days per week, and I park a good distance from the entrance in order to get some brisk walking in for a minute or so on the way in and out.
If this sounds strange, let me explain why I do this.
The barrage of snow we’ve received here in the northeast over the past couple of months, combined with generally erratic weather, has left snow piled high and sidewalks icy or otherwise impassible. Because the last thing I need is to break a leg (or worse) on the ice, I decided to only take walks this winter when the weather was well above freezing and I could walk on dry ground.
I’ve started parking my car away from the entrance to my job, because I’ve found that the parking lot at work is generally clear, and I can usually walk from my parking spot to the door without endangering myself. Of course, I will park close and tread carefully when ice is king, but I like that I’m at least forcing myself to get a modicum of exercise most days.
I do stand and walk around all day at my job anyway, and I’m glad for this, because it means that I’m not completely neglecting exercise just because walking outside is dangerous. However, I’m looking forward to spring, and the opportunity to get outside for sustained walks on a regular basis.
Since global warming is obviously a myth – Exhibit A: the 2013-14 Polar Vortex (Ha ha!) If next winter is as volatile, snowy, and cold as this one has been, I’m seriously considering investing in something that I can strap to my shoes in order to have a sure grip on slippery ground. I don’t want to go through another winter taking one walk per week-to-ten-days like I have this year. Sure, eating moderately well, parking far away from my job entrance when possible, and getting that occasional real walk in has kept me relatively trim this winter, but I’ve still wrestled with cabin fever from time to time, and I don’t really enjoy that at all.
I actually love winter – particularly at the beginning of the season. I like the cold. In theory, I can always put more clothing on if I’m cold, whereas in the summer, when it sits between the high 80s and the low 100s for a couple of months in a row, I’m sweaty and miserable. I love the beauty of snow, and I love Christmas time, and so on. But right now, winter is little more than a dirty mess on the ground. And I’m not physically up to weathering the wind chill on a long walk due to my determination to avoid slipping.
But I don’t like walking outside and then turning around to go back in because it’s too frigid. It’s embarrassing, for goodness’ sake! I’m not even sure why I admitted that! Oh well. Next winter, I want to be armored and ready to handle those elements… by taking plenty of walks, despite the weather.
* * *
It’s been a while already since my last post of photographs, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t occasionally been taking them – I’ve just been lazy about posting them! As it is, I have a few posts-worth of photos to share, and hope to get them on the blog in the next couple of weeks.
My first set was taken on November 11th, which was Veterans Day. It got pretty cold the night before, and we had a bit of snowfall, so I decided to take my camera with me when I went out for my morning walk.
My previous photo post was taken at the Chestnut Hill Cemetery, as I tend to go there during my morning walks because the cemetery is on a hill, and I get some good inclines to walk up, down, and around. I generally approach the cemetery from the footbridge at Dodge Creek, and this set of pictures is mainly from that part of my walk.
(Click to enlarge if you like.)
The final photo was taken from the bridge that crosses Dodge Creek – I thought this was a nice view as the creek winds its way out of the woods toward town (which is the opposite direction from where I faced when I took the shot).
I hope you enjoyed these photos. I have some others that I took more recently, and I’ll include them in a future post.
Here in western New York state, we didn’t get the brunt of the snowstorm on October 29th like parts of PA, NJ, and other states on the east coast. However, we did get some snow that stuck to the ground for a short while, and so that morning, I made my way to one of the most beautiful places in Portville, the Chestnut Hill Cemetary, to take some shots of the snowfall against the background of autumn colors.
(click to enlarge, if you like)
What follow are some of my favorites from the 20-some photos I took that morning.
* * *
I don’t have my iMac available, so these pics are completely un-altered. And I seem to have a problem with my lens, as you may be able to see in some of the photos. Ultimately, the photos don’t do justice to how beautiful and peaceful it was up there. However, I had an enjoyable walk – it snowed the entire time, but by the end the temperature was already rising, causing the accumulated snow to melt away.
Please feel free to comment if you like. Hope you enjoy the photos!
Well, we finally got our big snowstorm here in south-central PA. I went out tonight to get some photos, and it looks like we’ve gotten about a foot of snow over the past 24 hours. Last winter, we had already had two or three blizzards by this point, so this year has been remarkably milder than last year (in contrast to what much of the rest of the country has seen thus far).
I took these at around 9:30pm, and then played around with the lighting before I loaded them into this post. It’s supposed to be very windy tomorrow, so I decided to get some shots before the snow blows off the tree branches.
I love snow photographs, and have been waiting patiently this winter for the opportunity to take some. In spite of the lights and sounds of the city, it was peaceful out there tonight, and I was glad for the chance to enjoy it.
Shortly after 8pm Monday night, it started snowing pretty briskly. It snowed on and off during the night, and we were treated to a long, semi-sleepless night of parking lot plowing noise. All told, we probably got four or five inches of snow.
(From what I had been able to tell from the weather reports on the internet – which seem to be less informative than those on the radio or in the local newspaper – it wasn’t supposed to start snowing until Tuesday, but what’s done is done.)
Fast-forward to Tuesday afternoon – I decided to clean off the cars before the sun went down. I’m glad I did.
While temperatures have been topping out in the 20s lately, on Tuesday they got up into the mid-30s. In addition, freezing rain on top of the snow created a very dense mixture, particularly on the surface. Here are some pictures to illustrate what I mean:
(Click to enlarge for more detail)
As I said, I’m glad that I cleaned our cars off – it would be a real pain to scrape all of this off in the morning if it had frozen onto the windshield and windows overnight.
* * * * *
Walking around the cars with my brush-scraper, my feet slipped on the uneven snow several times. This reminded me of an injury that I got back in high school as a direct result of this type of snow surface.
In March of each year, we began training as a team for the track and field season. We started off with some very basic conditioning over the first few weeks: basically, warm-ups, long runs, and weight-lifting. I was in decent shape, and excited for my junior season.
Soon after we began training, we had a fairly major snowstorm that left over a foot of snow on the ground. It lasted for more than a day, and came in waves: it snowed, then it stopped, then it got colder overnight and re-froze, snowed some more, and then became bitterly cold and very windy the next day. This sequence of events made for a snow surface that consisted of about two inches of fluff on top of an inch of ice, which lay on top of about a foot of soft snow.
Early in the preseason, our track team got our conditioning in on a mostly unused road whenever our old cinder track was unfit for practice. After school, soon after this storm, we went over to run our “laps,” only to find that the road hadn’t been plowed at all. I’m not sure why, but we held our practice there anyway.
It was rough. Sometimes, we’d take a step and the top layer of icy snow would hold our weight. At other times, we’d put our feet down and there would be a delayed-break, where our feet would stop momentarily on the surface before plunging through to the road.
As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a dangerous way to try to run five miles or so.
However, at the time we were all gung-ho about being great in spite of the bad weather, and not letting other teams get ahead of us in their training schedules. So we struggled our way down the road, up the hill, back down, etc.
Somewhere along the way, my left foot managed to land wrong. I suffered a partial lateral meniscus tear, which is torn cartilage on the outside of the knee joint. In athletes, it’s generally caused by a twisting of the joint. All of us were ripe for this type of injury that day, given the road surface conditions.
The injury didn’t require surgery, and, after doing a month of physical therapy, I was able to run again for a little while that season (until I suffered a season-ending stress fracture in my foot that May – but that’s a story for another day). Thankfully, the knee injury hasn’t bothered me much since, even though I’m twice the age that I was when it happened. However, the snowy-icy conditions reminded me of it today… reminded me how fragile our bodies can be, even when they are in good shape.
I bought my Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster in March 2009. When I took it out of the case for the first time, I could immediately tell the difference between it and all of the other guitars I had owned up to that point. The workmanship was impeccable – the surfaces were perfectly smooth, the joints were tight, the hardware shone, and the wood was beautiful. I was in awe of it – it’s the most beautiful instrument I have ever owned, and my first impression was that it looked like a fine piece of furniture – and I’ve taken extra-special care of it since then.
Lately, I’ve noticed some loosening of the output jack. It hasn’t affected the sound, but I could tell that it wasn’t tight whenever I removed the cable. No problem, I thought. Jacks are easy to tighten.
So last weekend, I got out my tools and set to work. As I was finishing up, though, I did the unthinkable: I accidentally dropped a tool on the surface of the guitar from about five inches in the air, which resulted in a small ding, about a millimeter in diameter.
(Click photo for a better view.)
Oh, the pain!
I was mortified! And not because the guitar guitar belongs to anyone else, or because I plan to sell it ever, but because it’s the guitar’s very first blemish. My beautiful guitar, blemished forever! I felt so bad – it was as if I had hurt someone else’s guitar, even though it is totally my own.
So I took a couple of deep breaths and tried my best to shake it off.
I felt badly enough about it that I actually went online and ran a search for the phrase “i got my first dent in my new guitar,” or something lame like that. After doing some digging, I found a guy who said, in response to a gentleman who got a slight ding on his fretboard, “It’s your guitar! If it doesn’t affect playability, play it some more, and get more dents in it!” I smiled – somehow, that actually made me feel better. Battle scars do give the instrument some character, right?
I’ve gotten dents in new guitars before. My acoustic, which I’ve had since 2003, has a whole bunch of dents: I would often walk around the house while I played it, bumping it into corners and doorknobs and so on. It also has several scratches on it, from an instance when my old cat became fascinated by the strings and started pawing at it near the bridge. The guitar has taken its share of lumps, but it still plays as well as it did when I bought it, so technically it’s no worse for wear.
However, that was a low-to-mid-budget instrument. The Strat is a much more expensive, well-made instrument, and dropping a tool on it is such a crappy way to christen it… so it’s a little more difficult to swallow.
I think I’ll be OK, though. Looking critically at the guitar, I can see that it’s already showing signs of slight (normal) wear, particularly on the fretboard. As I play it more, it will continue to become broken-in over time, and the small ding I just gave it will be of less significance.
The fact that it happened because I dropped a tool on it just stings, for now. That’s all. 😛
Today I had the good fortune to be able to see a passion flower bloom. I took photos of the different stages as the morning went on, but wasn’t happy with most of them. However, I did manage to get a couple of good shots once it had fully bloomed.
Please click photos to enlarge if you like.
These flowers don’t stay in bloom for more than a day, so it was nice to be able to photograph this one!