15 September 2007

Termination Dust

Yesterday morning there was termination dust or the first powder of snow on the mountains. Last night the wind kicked into high gear and this morning I curled under my blankets listening to things blowing by, pieces of roofing, unsecured garbage cans, the rose bush clippings that my neighbor had been intending to burn. High thrashing winds set the perfect mood for the Disreputable Cat to go crazy and race around the house as the Disreputable Dog looked on tolerantly, but rather like an old man shaking his head about what youngsters get up to these days, and me laughingly. All of the leaves have been shaken down from the trees overnight. The wind has changed directions; in the summer our weather comes from the south, in the winter from the north, and this was a north wind.

A Bald Eagle hangs out during a January snowstorm

The thing is, I love wind, I love rain, I love snow. But what I don't like is when it all combines together. It is typical here for it to snow 4-5 feet and then immediately start to rain in similar amounts. This results in the snow clogging the city drains which results in sheets of ice so thick that, I kid you not, I have seen people ice skate down the streets & sidewalks. On top of the ice then, you have a good foot of water which makes any slide on the ice twice as likely and ignominious; not only do you go down on your ass but you also fall into a puddle of icy water that soaks you from head to toe. Add to this 40-50 mile per hour winds and the whole town becomes an ice rink (and on a bicycle I am a sail trying to push against the wind & trying to not get blown into the bay). Last year I wore through 4 pairs of ice grippers and a couple of pairs of knee pads from falling off my bike - there's that moment when you know you're going down and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. This year I am investing in studded bike tires....and I've already stocked up on new ice cleats which will be worn over my XtraTuffs (variously known, depending on your locale, as rain boots, barn boots, wellies, etc).


  1. you have to be a bad ass, don't you? to live in such cold, in such front and center of the elements. and you are surrounded by fellow bad asses, all of you choosing this and that alone is kinship.

    while i'd be the odd girl out (and whining of the cold) i'd sure love to drink a beer with you guys, all wrapped up in cold.

  2. Ugh! The extreme cold! You're braver than me. :)



  3. jen ~ are we badasses or do you just have a prediliction for punishment. And don't worry, we whine too (but mostly amongst ourselves so we can promote the badass image - laugh).

    chani ~ I don't know if it's bravery...but thanks for thinking so!

  4. I love your blog and the stacked stones...and your Kitty looks just like mine...( though she might be more petite)....I agree with you about the combination of ice,cold and wind...brrrrrr.

  5. I forgot to say please do come to my blog sometime...it is Watergate Summer, http:watergatesummer.blogspot.com/, I think you might like it and I have a couple of other Alaskan readers...bloggers ;-)

  6. There is a difference in the big city ugly cold than the far north ugly cold. At least you get a kind of extreme beauty. Or so I imagine. How on earth does the disreputable dog go outside in such extremes?

  7. Brrr, it's cold here too but just enough so we have to wear jackets, not your kind of cold. I hate the wind though. Sending warm thoughts your way. xo

  8. My ex used to tell me it was colder in WI than in SE Alaska, but the weather was wetter there. I don't know exactly where you are located, but it sounds like he may have been correct in that!

    Luckily, it is rarely icy here. I would be on my ass ALWAYS. I am very klutzy in the snow, and ice is even worse. Good thing I'm short, I don't have far to fall.

  9. sorry to be enjoying your post about the misery of biking through ice and snow (and wind and rain), but i get the feeling that, like me, you secretly love riding in the conditions. this defintely brought back memories of that moment you speak of (was what got me wearing a helmet full time!)
    btw, my boss is a little higher in elevation than me, gets more snow, and uses the studded tires, says they do great, good luck!

  10. enigma ~ Welcome and thanks! Don't worry, I'll be over to visit soon.

    crazymumma ~ The Disreputable Dog is amazing. He is almost impervious to cold weather. I swear his favorite temperature is minus 20F. Hot weather is harder for him - it's his husky under coat.

    dj kirkby ~ and I just heard we have a 75mph wind warning for tomorrow & tonight!

    qt ~ yes, your ex would be correct. Interior AK gets super cold (I lived there for 5 years) but here on the coast the sea moderates the temps but I have to say that I find it colder when the wind is blowing b/c you can never put enough layers on to keep it out where as if it's just cold you can always layer more on.

    matte ~ hehe...you're on to me! Yes, I secret like it. If nothing else if I spend time after work struggling against 70mph winds I find all of my stressful thoughts have blown away too!

  11. Wow, and here's me abandoning my bike because it's a wee bit slushy today. I took the bus instead and regretted my decision after only 2 blocks of jam-packed, foggy windowed misery. I've always wanted to venture into the far North but it sounds like I might be too much of a softie!


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