Tuesday, January 5, 2016

January 5, 2016 - This is Ice!

Now comes the ice, the real bringer of winter.  The snow always gets so much attention.  Everyone talks about it--how deep it is, how much shoveling there is, which sports are played in it, who built a snowman, etc.  The news reports in winter are always full of photos of snowstorms and snow removal.

Meanwhile, the real culprit continues on virtually unnoticed.  First every stem of every tree or bush gets covered in a fine sheath of ice.  Layers of ice then form over the field--huge sheets that stretch for miles and miles, encasing the dead vegetation beneath it.  Then the streams and ponds quickly grow a layer of ice which solidifies all the way through in a very short time.  Then the rivers succumb and freeze over, and even the salty ocean gives way to giant bubbles or pancakes of ice that float along the shore.  Later, if the cold continues unabated, icebergs form in the coves and travel back and forth.

A world of ice.

But, of course, it snows again, which covers all the ice.  However, that does not mean the ice goes away.  It continues on unnoticed and unhindered.  New layers form of ice, snow, ice, and snow again.  The ice gets very heavy.  If it gets too heavy, branches and bows crack off the trees.  If it gets heavier still, smaller trees will snap right in half at mid trunk.  Roofs and power lines will become heavy with ice, causing breakage and fires.  Fences and locks become encased in ice and impossible to use.

The watering holes get harder and harder for the animals to find, and they have to search further and further in a season where there is not much to eat and, hence, not much energy to be had for searching.  The air grows very, very dry and rakes across the skin and inner nose and lungs.  Ice forms in eyelashes and brows, mustaches and beards.  Suddenly, the world is completely wrapped in a thick sheet of impenetrable ice.

This is winter!  This is ice!

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