Northumberland Winter

All through December and the first half of January I was gearing up psychologically and physically to do battle with Winter. But Winter was feinting – some cool nights, and a little snow but then followed by those Glow in the Night and “it must be Global Warming” days of early January. In short it looked like another year of a Phony Cold War.

Well now I am deep in the trenches this 25 degrees below 0 Centigrade night, as the fifth week of all out attack from the Frigid Frost Corps has me firing up the iron stove in the basement and nestling under 3 blankets with two layers of PJs. And just going out to the car in the morning requires down filled hood coat, mucluks and gloves to open the frozen doors, scrape off the snow and ice plus dare to touch the ice-cold steering wheel.

But clearing the driveway is not half bad. The snow is so cold it just breaks up into tamped down ice chunks and is much easier to break up and clear away. The only problem is that the stiff wind leaves icicles 3-4 inches long hanging from my mustache. And there is a ritual for getting in and out of the driveway clearing gear – this is the agony that the astronauts must go through waiting and then after aborting liftoff at the Cape. And given the blowing and drifting snow I know I will have to suit up and go right back out there in an hour or two.

This is doing battle with Winter.

And I know full well it could be a lot worse. Why just across Lake Ontario, the good citizens of Oswego county in New York state are doing pushups every day with over 11 feet of snow in a week. What did Al Gore say about Global Warming ? (Actually Al is right again – the unusually mild winter to mid January kept the Lake warm enough so that when the Arctic air swept down from James Bay and Labrador it had plenty of warm air and moisture to pick up off Lake Ontario and deposit as snow in cities from Oswego through Rochester to Buffalo). Its called Lake Effect snow – and the blizzards off the Lake in the Cobourg area prove it can be quite contentious at times.

Northumberland Cabin Fever

So I have found in the past few days, even nestled in warmth of the basement with iron stove dispensing the heat of some chunks of birch (they get the fire going pretty quickly) and maple logs(they keep the fire going for quite awhile) – I am getting summer cabin fever. I can see it directly in how I process my Warkworth and Northumberland countryside images. The heat is creeping in if not just downright burning the images.

Take this photo of the back lawn.
The winds are so brisk and cold the snow just barely clings to last Fall’s final mowing tracks. So you have angular curves that reflect the gentle slopes of an esker hillside. But let me tell you there are no human tracks in that nearby snow and very few critter tracks either. There was a raven a few days ago and a couple of finches looking for the bread crust I throw out on the porch. And lapin left small paws across the edge of the yard … but the wind is stiff and cold enough to sweep aside even the memory of those trails.

And so just the curves of Fall mowing are left. But what I unconsciously did was light a fire in the picture. The snow is literally hovering over a light green-seeking-yellow surface teeming with the heat that is to be Spring and Summer. And if there were a doubt the hillside woods are aflame with whisps of orange and red. even the snow is ablaze. Now I will tell you that I did not consciously do this other than to favor lighter hues and an effort to bring out the mowing curves. But when I came back to the image a few days ago – it was almost too hot to touch.

The next photo is almost the opposite – this is Mom’s Spirea enduring a hellishly cold winter(we shall see if they are truly perennial):
Here the Spirea image is encased in an ice cool frame while they endure their crown of thorns pain with some splotches of sienna and red. Here I can claim more deliberate design – wanting to give the Spirea more earthen tones with and an edgy almost shaken-by-freezing look.

The final image I tripped upon when visiting the neighbours. They have a some flowering bush that retain their blossoms, like oaks do their leaves, straight through the winter. The blossoms were bouncing rather jauntily in the winds, so of about a dozen pictures only two really came out. Here is one:
I have added some simplification to the image; but the colors are essentially the same – and the mood is not just jaunty but downright spring and upbeat. One of the joys of photography is to catch these intimate moments in time.

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