Monday, December 16, 2013

The Cold Spot, or Pneumonia Gulch

 My front yard gets no direct sun in the winter.  I'm around 100 feet in elevation above downtown Quincy on a North-facing slope of Claremont Ridge.  I've only been here 7 years, and stories of sledding adventures and other neighborhood customs keep trickling into my awareness.  Actually, several sub-neighborhoods within a few hundred yards of my house claim the title Pneumonia Gulch, so I'm not sure any of these are recognized by the USGS.  All I know is that in the summer we're blessed by cooler temperatures than the open land in the middle of American Valley, and in the winter we have to look for the assets in order not to be discouraged bny the cold and the darkness.  Having grown up in New England, I find that rather easy.  Frost is the morning show.  The top photo is a growth on top of one of our fence posts.
 Here's a view of a wall of our garage.  I love how Jack Frost seems to recognize wood grain and play with it as a substrate.
 Knotholes are a very special substrate.  They have unique properties when burning in our wood stove as well as their role as a substrate for frost.  Some of the large knots in our Douglas-fir and Ponderosa Pine rounds may be hard to split and stack neatly, but being of a harder wood, they generally burn like oak, providing more calories of heat than the firewood vendor intended.
 Knot holes are every bit as interesting as the knots were when there. 
 Notice how the frost likes to gather along the harder grain, the denser wood laid down between seasons of rapid growth, the part of the pine that behaves more like oak, even if on a microscopic level.
I have seen more exciting displays of frost on the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire which used to be billed as the coldest place on the surface of the Earth.  Also, the site of the fastest wind recorded on the surface of Earth.  Both titles have been yielded to Siberia and Antarctica.  And, the Great Stone Face is gone, too.  Anyway, I don't get to the top of Mt. Washington in winter any more, and the show of frost in my Cold Spot suffices to stir the memories as well as make the present more exciting.

No comments:

Post a Comment