Posted tagged ‘winter’

Ice Clouds at -36 Celsius

January 23, 2013

Tossing some boiling water into the air on a cold winter morning.

I was amused.

Water 1

Water 2

Water 3

Water 4

Water 5

Water 6

Water 7

Water 8


The Special Cold

December 17, 2009

So we’re having our first cold snap.

Sort of.

Because it’s just going down to minus 24C tonight.    That’s hardly a record-breaking temperature there I live.

But it’s the first noticeable cold of the season.

We’ve had freezing temperatures since late October.  But minus single-digits are par for the course.

Minus teens are tolerable, just mildly annoying.

But minus 20’s are the point at which it starts to become obnoxious outside.

Starts to.

Because it can easily go down to the minus 30’s, and (somewhat rarer) it even pushes minus 40.    And I’m sorry, that’s cold by anyone’s standards, even for Nanook of the North.

And it’s a Special kind of Cold, that you have to experience first-hand to understand.

Sorry, Chicago, Seattle, or Buffalo, you just don’t get it.

But Rugby, North Dakota, North Bay, Saskatoon and St. Jovite, you probably do.

It’s that Special Cold that gets into your house, into all the nooks and crannies and chills your marrow.  Even though the thermostat says 70F, and you’re wearing a sweater

It’s that Special Cold that slams you like a brick wall the instant you leave the house.   Where you pray that your engine starts.  Where the steering wheel burns to the touch, and feels like it’s lubricated with molasses, it’s so sluggish to move.

Where you turn the heater on full-blast, but it’s not until you arrive at your destination that the car’s finally warmed to a civilized temperature.   And then (dammit) it’s time to go outside eand you’re instantly chilled all over again.

It’s that Special Cold where your cheeks and nose feel like they’re on fire.   Where your nostrils stick together, your eyes water and the tears freeze to your cheeks.   Where your beard or mustache (if you have one) ices up within seconds.

Where you get an ice-cream headache from your bare forehead, and it hurts your lungs to breathe deeply.   Where you can’t feel the surface-skin of your legs, and your toes start to get that dull ache, that will really start to hurt if you don’t get inside soon.

But the Special Cold is also beautiful, in its own way.

The air is perfectly calm and still,  as if Mother Nature herself is hunkering down.  Everything seems to grinds to a halt.

Whitish smoke rises perfectly vertically from everyone’s chimney, forming low-level clouds that drift on for miles.    The snow has that extra squeaky sound as you walk on it.    Ice crystals dance suspended in the air, reflecting whitish-yellow against an azure sky. Everything sparkles.

Sound travels farther.  Jet aircraft WHOOSH though the crackling air much louder than usual.    You can take a cup of hot water, flick it into the air, and it will turn to ice vapor before it hits the ground.   (It’s not a myth, I’ve actually done this)

And if you dress warmly enough, with enough layers, and keep moving, you can actually go out in the Special Cold and enjoy it for short periods.

Skiing, skating, ice-fishing, snow-mobiling.   We Canadians are kind of nuts, that way.

(After all, what are we supposed to do?  Stay INDOORS all winter?)

And besides, the Special Cold is short-lived.

By March, the minus 20-30’s are pretty much done.

April is mostly rain and slush.   By the end of the month, there might even be a short heat wave where you can go out in shorts.

By May, we can easily hit plus 30C….

And then, we’ll start complaining about the heat…

Never a dull moment here, in the Great White North.

Quadrupling your Effectiveness with S.E.O.

February 7, 2009

If any of you Über-Bloggers out there expected this post to be about Search Engine Optimization, sorry to disappoint you.    I just wanted to see if adding “SEO” in the title could generate some more blog traffic. 

(Heh heh..ain’t I a stinker?)  🙂

But if you’re still interested in increasing your productivity and effectiveness, I suggest you my patented Friar-Brand of of S.E.O. :  


Seriously.   Unplug your computers.  Stop Twittering 9 hours a day.  Get OFF the G-damned grid.  

Just go OUTSIDE and SKI. 

Or if you don’t  ski,  just go OUTSIDE and do SOMETHING to get some fresh air!

It will make you feel better.  And you’ll be more effective.

I guar-ron-TEE it !

Anyway, enough with the BlogoLand Lessons.   Here are are some photos from MY recent SEO adventures:



This is the view just outside my window, at dawn.



Here’s Friar’s  Mom (the tiny red dot far, FAR below).   As usual, she’s waiting for me to catch up to her.  She KICKS my BUTT going down the slopes.  (Dammit.)



Going up the chairlift (reasonably steep, but not the hardest run there is).


Here’s a black-diamond steep pitch.  The photo doesn’t really do it justice. steep-shit

Heading down…


I love these majeestic spruce trees near the top. (This will be a watercolor painting in the near future).


Finally, the sun setting over the Monashees at the end of a great day.


4 Minutes and 22 Seconds of Down-Time.

February 4, 2009

I stand perched on top of the world,  feeling like Zeus looking down from Mt. Olympus.  Grey cotton puffs of cloud carpet the valley floor, thousands of feet below.   The jagged peaks of the Monashees break the distant horizon like so many saw-teeth.  Diamond snow crystals reflect the pale yellow sunlight on the ground in front of me.

This isn’t a very difficult ski run.  In fact, it’s the easiest route to the bottom.   But it’s the beginning of the day and hardly anyone has skied on it yet.  

Plus the trail is perfectly groomed by the machines from the night before.  The snow has the consistency of flat, even  cordurory, like a white chenille bedspread.

Hero snow, they call it.  Easy to ski on.   A long smooth runway lies in front of me, with no bumps or obstacles.   

And I know what this means…

It’s GO time.

I put on my goggles, point my skis tips down the hill, and let gravity pull me.

The trail widens, and my velocity increases.   I start to do a few turns.   Not the  small Mickey-Mouse zig-zagging kind.    But the big arcing super-G turns, each hundreds of feet long.   

My velocity increases.  The gentle wind now whistles indignantly past my ears.  I crouch down, into a football stance, my hands in front of me like handlebars on a high-powered motorcycle.   I start to feel the gees increase as I trace my huge sine-waves onto the virgin corduroy. 

I see three black dots ahead:  two snowboarders and a skier.  

Hmph.   Beginners, going really slow.

Roger that.   We have Bogies at twelve o-clock.

I need to get past them.   I anticipate where they’ll turn and make a quick calculation.  Like an F-18 Fighter, I roar past them like they’re standing still.   

Now that I have the entire trail open in front of my, I’m REALLY ready to cut loose. 

Flexing at my ankles, knees and hips, I bend my body into a C-shape, and ride the single razor edge of my ski.   I can feel myself accelerate into the turn.   My feet feel like they’re slipping on a wet bar of soap, ready to zoom out in front of me.  

But I maintain the delicate balance:  almost, but not quite losing control, gaining more and more speed.  Then I shift my weight and for a split second,  my skis are in free-fall.  Then the pressure builds up on the opposite edge, as I start the next turn.

I do this over and over.   There’s a rhythm to this, like a pendulum.   A high-speed rocket pendulum.  This is such a euphoric feeling.   This is what I’ve been waiting to do all year.

The wind is now roaring in my ears like a jet engine.  My jacket is flapping like a flag in a hurricane.  My mouth forms a wide grimace as I suck in oxygen.   My quads are burning masses of fire, but I don’t care.  I’m going like a bat out  of hell, and right now, nothing else in life matters.

I can’t help but  hear  Bruce Sprinstein’s “Born to Run” in my head.   It just makes me want to scream and go even FASTER!

Taking a last-chance power-dive, I negotiate the last section of the trail.  There are a few knolls, and by timing it right, I get instants of almost weightlessness as I fly over them.

(OMG!  This is fun!!)   There is no amusement park in the whole world that can match this exhilaration!  I hear screaming noises,  and realize it’s me, making my own sound effects.  I’m a five-year old kid, pretending to be a Tie-fighter  from the Star Wards movies.  


One last huge 90 degree left turn,  and I”m whizzing dangerously close to the snow fence.  The run is almost over.   I see the chairlift a few hundred yards away.  I’m there within moments.  

The sign says “SLOW DOWN”, which I contemptuously ignore until the very end.   I do a few quick jamming turns to shed my excess speed, and coast into the lift line for a perfect landing.

I’m panting, because I probably forgot to breathe. 

My eyes are wet… From the wind getting through my goggles ,perhaps.   Or maybe tears of joy. 

Maybe a bit of both.

Anyway, time to go up and do it all over again.