Thursday, May 1, 2014

SNOW:THE GREAT INSULATOR! Tales of a winter lake mishap and a lackluster spring forsythia bloom.

Photos by Jonathan Schechter.  Snow image February,  2014  Forsythia image April, 2014

It was frigidly cold morning in Oakland County and after nearly two weeks of the temperature hovering in single digits in late February I was not worried about thin ice.  I should have been. The snow was  deep and the lake is spring fed. I was on an early morning  mission to photograph a beaver lodge on a small kettle lake in a protected wildland of Oakland County.  My trek straight across the lake on snowshoes went well and I was enamored with the snow-capped lodge at the far side of the lake.  On my return trek across the lake taking a different route I missed some warning signs when I was about 15 feet from shore.  A few willows and cattails grew on the edge of the slope---- and willows and cattails like their feet' wet. I kept walking.  Suddenly one foot in slow motion plunged through the snow and ice into the water.  I quickly spread my weight and belly-slithered to shore, a bit shaken and far more respectful of the fact that snow is a great insulator and ice near the spring remained dangerously thin when sheltered from the extreme cold by snow.

Jump ahead to late April. The forsythia shrubs that edge my driveway should be thick with yellow blossoms.  This year, next to nothing; maybe three dozen blossoms. And every single blossom that finally appeared this year were within two feet of the ground and mostly on the leeward side. I thought about the record deep freeze during a time of high winds and the mercury plunging for days on end between  -10 and  -20 Fahrenheit.  You do not need to be a botanist or be an earth sciences forensic expert to figure out the rest of this story. The snow was just over two feet deep on the slope of the drive and snow was the great insulator that protected the blossoms that finally bloomed. Snow may be cold, but it remains a great insulator from extreme cold and frigid winds.


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