Sunday, October 19, 2008

First Frost!

As expected, last night produced our first frost in Farmersville. My own records show the average date of the first frost is 10/06. Last night's figure didn't change that date. Throughout the night, I found a sheet and two blankets not enough. It got down to 30 degrees outside and 60 degrees inside.

The grass is the back yard was blanketed with white and a leaf was fringed with frost. When I first came downstairs (7:40 a.m.) my mother called me to the window to watch a raccoon amble across the yard, check out our compost pile and then drink from the pan we leave out for that purpose. He was thirsty enough - and probably cold, to boot - that the fact that we were watching through the lighted kitchen window didn't matter. He simply took his time, did what he came to do and then drifted back towards the woods. He walked tall, as though he was on tiptoes.

In the shade of the garage (west side), the henbit was lacy white. That weed is a scourge for us. A member of the mint family, it is impossible to discourage from its place in the lawn. Chemicals would rid us if it but only if they're put on amply and often enough. It's not worth the cost nor the environmental concern. And yet I am forever pulling henbit. The frost will be no more successful than I.

Beside S. Clayton Road, a last-of-the-season thistle seems to thrive. Winter won't bother it a bit. I'll find it on a pleasant January day just as green as it appears above. Because it hangs low in this rosette form, it seems to be protected from the winter's cold. When spring at last returns, it will have a jump start on the other weeds.

Taking a closer look at the thistle (above), actual ice crystals stab out from the leaves. The sun had just risen as I took this picture and even now, as I type this, the ice will be melted and the ground merely wet.

Grasses, too, hold their seeds high and are an attractive spot for frost to form. Their gorgeous yellows and browns are brightened by the ice and stand like jewels in the cold sunshine.

A closer look at the grass shows a sparkling ice fringe along every surface. For a few moments the sun will highlight the overnight work of the cold and then it will dissolve to dew and by afternoon be dry and fall-like again.

Above is a chart of our indoor temperatures* since the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through this area on September 14. We have added no heat (nor a/c) in that time. This is the normal daily fluctuation of our second floor. The up/down gyrations are days when the sun was brightest (the two odd upwards-curved straight lines are missing data). Look particularly at the last few days. On 10/15 it read 77 in the house; this morning it read 60. I suppose that doesn't say much for our insulation. On the other hand, it's cost us nothing in heating cost the past week but only because we are willing to be colder than is comfortable.

Finally (above) is the outside temperature curve for the past 24 hours. The high shown on the graph is 61; the low is 30. So we not only had our first frost of the season, we also had our first freeze.

* The temperature data (as well as all weather data) is read automatically every five minutes with a LaCrosse Weather Station.