Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winter's Early Signs

 The past week has found us beginning our annual battle with winter. The first sign was found on the cap of our "burn barrel" at the edge of the garden on Saturday (10/30) morning before the sun rose. There, overnight, long fingers of ice had formed in the cold night air. It only got down to 25 degrees and the air has been quite dry but what little moisture was present was wrung from the air by the chill.

 This barrel is at such an exposed location that I use it as a sort of "frost sensor". I don't have to look for lightly frosted grass or dry leaves with a fringe of ice. I walk to the barrel and check this cap, have a look along the barrel's metal edge. It is all the proof I need.

 On a sadder (and more expensive) note, our heat pump wasn't defrosting properly (probably not at all) and a fringe of ice several inches high formed along the outside edge and on the coils. If the coils are covered with ice, they're insulated and insulated coils don't exchange heat efficiently. So we called the serviceman who had to replace a circuit board that controls the defrost cycle. We have a ten year warranty and he was nice enough to not to charge even for the trip.

 Looking across the field in front of our house, what we call the "Shell Farm" was enveloped in the icy fog and seemed to be a haunted house. It's Beggars Night so it's only proper that it should look a little scary before the sun rises. The cut corn has a fringe of frost along it's edge, too.

 Later the sun is up and the day is warming and my brother, Bob, has stopped by to cut down another dead pine. We're losing pines at a tremendous rate. I suppose our climate is changing too fast for the poor trees to adapt. Frankly, it's hard enough for us.

 The top of the tree looks pretty small - and it is - but the trunk is large enough that a chain saw is needed. We added the logs to our nearby woodpile and will use them in the years ahead. I hate to see the view changing so rapidly. Our privacy is being eroded by every tree that dies.
 And yet on this cold weekend, the sun shines and the air is fairly calm. There isn't a snowflake in sight. But winter is ready and I can sense that it is just over the horizon. Already an electric blanket feels good. The calendar confirms that we must be ready for the dark days ahead.