Category Archives: Around The Hill

Ten Below

Cold.

The kind of cold that demands forbearance. Day after day after day of near and sub-zero temperatures that finds it’s way into our bones, and daily conversations.

Just after finishing opening chores I came off the mountain to take a break in the ski lodge when someone asked “How’s the snow?”

“Good skiin’!” I replied enthusiastically. “Cold. Damn cold.” I thought to myself.

Before chores were over, cold found it’s way between my goggles and hood. Like a dog might snarl before a full bite, cold nipped my cheek, reminding me, warning me, this kind of cold will freeze flesh in a very few moments. 

“What did you have for breakfast, miss?” 

After the words left my mouth, I realized how personal a question that was to ask a total stranger. Maybe even inappropriate.

“Eggs with ham, and cheese.” the woman replied patiently, almost with a hint of contrition in her voice.

“That sounds good, but no bread?” I asked. “No, no bread.”

“Well don’t be shy about having a snack if you feel like it. Pretty cold, you’ll burn it up quick.”

The cold caused me concern. For myself, and anyone else sharing the outdoors in this arctic air.

I didn’t eat lunch in the cafeteria as I usually do.

“Did you eat lunch today?” asked the cafeteria cashier when I saw her in the lodge later in the afternoon.

She seemed satisfied when I recited “Some chips and cheese, two hot dogs on buns, and homemade cookies with cherry stuff on top that someone’s wife had made and sent up to ski patrol base for us to share, and plenty of hot tea to wash it all down.”

More ‘crude but effective’ than ‘healthy’ diet I thought. No matter. Whatever you throw in the furnace on a day like today will burn quick just keeping the animal warm.

“That’s good – you must have good clothing on too.” she said.

“Yes I do – and lot’s of it!”

Riding the lift later, another ski patroller asked me if I knew how many layers he had on. Before I could say anything, he declared “All of them!” I inventoried my own kit and counted seven.

The weather station never reported temperatures warmer then two below zero. A steady and gusty wind kept the windchill hovering between 24 and 27 degrees below zero.

The kind of cold that provokes compassion. The kind of cold that makes you feel lucky and grateful if you have a warm bed and enough heat. 

The kind of cold that makes it obvious how important it is we tend to each other’s, and our own animal’s well being.

Snow Making

Busy with winter preparations and with unseasonably mild weather up until this week, I pretty much forgot about winter itself.

As initial snowmaking concentrates on the north west trails, the trails facing my backyard have been unilluminated. Last week or so, the Delaware lights were lit during the day. “Tony probably testing the lights, and making final adjustments before the season.” I thought to myself.

For the past few days, the steady low roar of the snow guns round the clock, is unmistakable.

The other night while having some soup at Chet’s Place, Brad comes by my table with a look in his eye and says “Prolly this week…”.

Jack then turns to me, “You ready?” more of a statement then a question. I think a moment, and utter a low “yeh”.

NOAA says snow and cold, some of it single digit, for the foreseeable future.

Work last nite and tonite bartending for people enjoying themselves and each at their holiday banquets. Pay some bills tomorrow. Stock up on food and supplies monday. Maybe cook some to put in the freezer.

Then ski.

Just ski.

Walking Stick

From a distance, it looked at first like a piece of grass, or maybe pine needles that had blown against the wall and stuck.

Closer inspection revealed movement – it is a bug – a walking stick!

Wikipedia reports:

The Phasmatodea (also known as Phasmida or Phasmatoptera) are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects in Europe and Australasia; stick-bugs, walking sticks or bug sticks in the United States and Canada; or as phasmids, ghost insects or leaf insects (generally the family Phylliidae). The group’s name is derived from the Ancient Greek φάσμα phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom, referring to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves. Their natural camouflage makes them difficult for predators to detect, but many species have a secondary line of defence in the form of startle displays, spines or toxic secretions. The genus Phobaeticus includes the world’s longest insects.

Members of the order are found in all continents except Antarctica, but they are most abundant in the tropics and subtropics. They are herbivorous with many species living unobtrusively in the tree canopy. They have a hemimetabolous life cycle with three stages: eggs, nymphs and adults. Many phasmids are parthenogenic, and do not require fertilised eggs for female offspring to be produced. In hotter climates, they may breed all year round; in more temperate regions, the females lay eggs in the autumn before dying, and the new generation hatches out in the spring. Some species have wings and can disperse by flying, while others are more restricted.