December 2017 and the first half of January this year have been very cold in Perrysburg, Ohio.
The frost patterns on my old, non-sealed, manual storm-glazed windows were fascinating as always: Are these frost lines built molecule by molecule showing us precise angles that exist at that very small level? How else can such a thin line be grown so straight? And then sometimes they curve, to follow perhaps the fine line of a window cleaner’s scratch? Some other lines must be following isotherm lines showing heat flow currents?
Brendan pointed out similar patterns in BBC videos, findable on You-Tube, where people are freezing soap bubbles and watching the frost fronds grow – in time lapse movies? One very cold and windy night I thought of going outside to make one, but never got there. Now it is too warm. Anyone ever tried it?
Last month these sundogs at our local Fort Meigs forecast the good snow to come:though if you want to see some really great dogs go to the recent APOD image at
The cold made very beautiful, fine snow for 20 days of excellent cross-country skiing even though it lacked the base of heavy wet snow which usually falls first. I only skied 18 of them because for two days it was below 10 F (-12 C) which is uncomfortable, unless the sun is shining and there is no wind.
The fine snow was almost too fast, and then got even faster as we skied it. Peter D in Calgary told me how to iron in the blue ‘Glider’ wax I’d bought years ago in a Finland summer visit. A dedicated domestic iron now lives in the basement for the new task. So speed is no longer an issue. But without a frozen groove set in the snow it was hard to control the direction of the skis.
A few day’s work had cleared the fallen trees and branches in the wilderness areas. Fortunately two new skiers to the trail, Michael B and Bill T helped set the track. So conditions were superb. Now, Jan. 22, it is warm and the bees are flying! The fun has ended but some of us hope for more in a few days time.
My lovely iPhone trail mapping ap. from Sierra Club stopped working when the latest ‘upgrade’ to the phone operating system was installed. Fortunately there are many other similar aps. out there (in cyberspace). My latest one is “Topo Maps+” which, for a few $$, supplies great map detail. But it will not email the resulting map (for copyright reasons?). A “screen dump” used to give me a Photoshopable copy but the new iPhone op system now seems to block that too. Finally, mailing the phone screen-dumped image to my laptop and then taking a “Print Screen” image of that at last gave me a file I could edit and annotate in Photoshop!
So here is this season’s Cross-Country Ski Map. From the Riverside Park Cannons to Fort Meigs and back is 3.74 miles, with an elevation change of reportedly about 200 ft.
The blue arrow indicates the ski trail starting at the USS Constitution (replica) Cannons at Riverside Park. Follow the blue trail through the woods, into Orleans Park along the river, under the bridge, alongside Crooked Creek, around Fort Meigs (Clockwise for best speed), and back. The more people who ski it the better it gets. Please come and join the fun!
Pay close attention to the section at the service road the west side of Fort Meigs. Note the many contour lines close together! Even cross country skis can get to 20 mph on this one. Stick to the right hand side of the service road for good grass conditions under the snow. Two days ago, on thin snow, I foolishly stayed to the center of the road but contacted the gravel surface. Even at slow speed, gravel quickly stops skis while momentum keeps the skier’s body moving forward, for a little time at least!
More unexpected adventures were had in the Orleans Park section. Four days ago the ice break up created a dam – the Maumee river rose, flooded my ski trail, froze, and then subsided, leaving a thick flat ice slab poorly supported by shrub stems and such. Under the ice was air, and then water below that. But the ice was unsupported by water and so had no strength. It all resulted in one very cold wet skier.
Getting to one’s feet again is surprisingly awkward when immersed in cold wet, slippery ice, with nothing good to hold onto and with feet fastened to underwater skis! Any tips anyone?
Back home about a thousand Canada geese have gathered from a large surrounding area at the only open water hole, and are leaving a large amount of phosphorous containing material to feed the summer river and lake algae.
The only other birds, apart from the local waddling ducks, are about 20 very elegant Mergansers which are far too wild to be photographed up close.
A Perspective Puzzle:
The top 4 or 5 ft. of this vertical slab of ice, about 50 ft. away, viewed edge-on in the photo above with the camera pointing due North, and with its lower edge firmly resting about 6 ft. underwater in the Maumee mud, has a strange perspective property. When seen from about 15 deg. to the right side (camera pointing NNW) it seems to tilt slightly to the left. See photo below:
But when viewed from about 90 deg. around to the left side (camera pointing due East), see below, where its true (parallelogram?) shape can perhaps be better imagined, it seems to take on a huge tilt to the right. I assure you, it is still vertical but to me it does look like a good sloping launch ramp for some adventurous jumper.
Maurice C suggested making a video while I walk past it. You can see that in the link below. The perspective illusion still there.
Of course there is a U-Tube example of a similar effect which Maurice showed me. You can find it by Googling “Amazing Rooftop Illusion “ or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui6j-j1jXcE
Winters on Toronto Island
The best story this month was the New York Times article by Catherine Porter on the winter activities of the Toronto Islanders: shinny; ice boating; even polar bear dipping. But there was no mention of cross-country skiing: That was where I first learned the sport 50 years ago. David Hendry found you could buy very old wide wooden skis for about $2 at the then politically incorrectly called (but perhaps accurately because those skis had the old and dangerous ‘rat trap’ bindings) “Crippled Civilians” store on Jarvis Street. It is now the “Goodwill store. We planed the sides down to about 2/3 of their original width and got great cross-country use out of them.
The NYT article should be available at:
Time now to take down the Xmas decorations:
A Very Happy and Peaceful New Year to All.
We’d love to see you on the Trail!