Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Did Winter not get the memo?

First day of spring 2013: the sun says new season, despite lingering winter cold for some”  -- The Washington Post
Early this morning, we arrived at the Vernal Equinox.  Today the Earth’s axis tilts neither toward nor away from the Sun, which rises due east and sets due west, and night and day are very close to equal in length at all latitudes.  It's the official start of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere ... astronomical spring that is.  Spring the season may have arrived in some places, but not here.  Apparently no one told Winter it was time to leave.
The Earth at equinox (NOAA).  For a helpful and interesting explanation, see EarthSky.
Yesterday the heater came on early in the morning -- that should have been a warning.  The air was quite brisk, and a light dusting of snow still covered the streets even though the sun was shining.  But despite these hints, the river caught me by surprise.

It’s amazing how fast our river can change, especially in winter ... one day snow-covered, the next day slick ice, and then decorated all over with hoarfrost the following morning.  Every March there's a day when I realize the river has become a river again, flowing swiftly with chunks of old ice, clearing away tumbleweeds and miscellaneous debris accumulated over the winter.  That’s the way it was a few days ago, so I didn’t expect to find this:
It may be the day before Spring, but the Laramie River is freezing up again.  Some stretches are completely frozen over, others have narrow channels of open water meandering through fresh snow-covered ice.
My neighbor and his dog were out walking, and we stopped to chat, play and marvel at this surprising turn of events and the beauty of the river.  He said that his thermometer at home read 8º F (-13º C).
The Laramie River in winter almost always has something of interest for the visitor.
Above and below:  frozen surface viewed from the foot bridge.
I was intently focused on these little icicles on the underside of an old ice sheet when I heard a crash.  It hadn’t occurred to Sparky that this wonderful new ice might be too thin to explore, and there he was in a foot of icy slush, unable to climb out over the slippery old ice along the bank.  I would have taken a photo but he looked scared and very pathetic.  I anchored myself in a clump of willows, grabbed his nape, and between the two of us we got him out of the water.  In seconds he was back to being his usual happy self, all trauma forgotten.  Such is the wisdom of a dog.
Sparky rids his coat of ice.
This morning the river is back to being a river, and it’s tempting to think Spring will be here soon ... except that they’re predicting lows in the single digits again this weekend.  The Earth may have orbited to Spring, but Winter isn't ready to leave just yet.

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