Ice World

07 January 2004

We woke to a world encased in ice. Here in Canby it was twenty-seven degrees with a light freezing rain. A quick check of the television and the web revealed that most of the Portland metropolitan area would remain closed today.

 

As we drowsed through the next couple of hours we could, from time-to-time, hear the crunch crunch crunch of tires on ice. Traffic was infrequent.

At eight I called Jeff and we decided to cancel work at Custom Box Service. That done, I grabbed my camera and ventured outside.

It was like walking on a sheet of ice. What had been a thin rime yesterday was now nearly an inch thick. In some places the ice was thick enough that my steps did not break through the crust, but in most spots my footsteps created small craters with cracks that spiderwebbed outward.

The layer of ice on the magnolia caught my eye, and on the arborvitae. The daphne, too, was coated in ice (and may not survive), and the rosemary, and the rhododendrons, and the dogwood, and the maple. When I broke a piece of ice off a fern, a large piece of the plant broke off with it.

 

Our neighbor came outside and began to shovel his walk. Why? (He has been shoveling his walk for an hour-and-a-half now.) His dog sat with him, watching patiently.

I walked around the house, photographing icicles and frozen plants. Then I walked down the street, photographing the ice. The temperature increased perceptibly. A thin layer of water melted on top of the ice, and the footing became even more treacherous.

Some of the neighbors’ trees had been destroyed by the storm; the weight of the ice had become too much, and limbs had been ripped from tree trunks. I was admiring an tall hedge which, coated in ice, had dipped to the ground without breaking, when a man with a cigarette and a cup of coffee wandered down the street to join me.

“I ain’t seen nothing like this,” he said. I mentioned the storm of 1996. “Yeah, but that wasn’t nothing like this. I was in Lewiston, Idaho, for that storm. I was picking up paper at the potlach mill. My load was delayed, though. The floodwaters had swept away a herd of cattle and one of the damn things had got stuck in an intake someplace. Burned out a piece of equipment worth a hundred grand. Killed the cow. I had to wait at the mill an extra day, and the flood waters rose.

“Bunch of us were trapped in Lewiston. Truckdrivers. I wanted out of there, though. I’d had enough of that truckstop shit. We lined up at the only bridge out of town and we watched the river. It was so high that it was sweeping over the bridge. But every once in a while the guy in front would decide he could make it, so he’d take a chance and cross the bridge.

“When it was my turn, they told me not to go. ‘Don’t do it, man,’ they said, but I wanted out of there, so I just went. It was dicey, but I made it.”

Then, as I was walking home, I passed another fellow out walking on the ice. He was having trouble, slipping and sliding all over the place. He wasn’t taking ice-sized baby steps; he was taking abnormally long strides, and it wasn’t working. He nodded at me. “I’m not used to this shit,” he said. “I’m from Arizona.”

I laughed. “We’re not that used to it, either. This is a rare thing around here.”

I came back home and made myself some Abuelita (a brand of Mexican hot chocolate).

Update: It’s eleven. I just took the mail out, and the ice, as it begins to melt, is slick. Yikes. Twice, my right leg (and its bad knee) went shooting out. I’m staying inside the rest of the day, playing Nintendo.

Comments

On 07 January 2004 (11:34 AM),
mac said:

we have a thin layer of ice covering our thick layer of snow here…not nearly as much ice as you guys have down there. be careful

On 07 January 2004 (11:38 AM),
J.D. said:

Ah. I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. We just had a power surge which was followed by a boom in the distance. I suspect that power is now off in parts of the city. We’re right on the corner of the power grid; when the power is off across the street, it’s on here, and vice versa.

On 07 January 2004 (12:05 PM),
Paul said:

It is a balmy 37 degrees in the tropical south. The University of Oregon has only completely closed twice in its 127 years due to weather conditions. These last two days have not caused a closure of any sort. I guess they anticipate that we will bike to campus regardless of the weather. I don’t have a Nintendo, so I am content to be at work.

On 07 January 2004 (01:25 PM),
Denise said:

I was hoping you would take some pictures. I have a great tree in my backyard that is covered with ice (much like the picture on the right of your second set), but I am not going to venture out just yet. I actually got my garbage and recycling cans out to the curb last night (just in case the garbage trucks were coming this morning) and almost fell on my rear more than once.

Ice is SO fun.

On 07 January 2004 (01:39 PM),
Dana said:

What sort of boom? I wonder if it was a big ice-covered tree collapsing onto some lines, or if it was a transformer actually exploding?

I keep telling you, JD — you need to come out here to Minnesota in January or February to experience actual cold, ice, and snow. Granted, we don’t get that kind of ice often either, but I have seen it before.

Too bad none of you has ice skates. Sounds like a near-perfect environment. Of course, I suppose that assumes you know how to ice skate.

Isn’t weather fun? =) Hope your leg is okay! (And I particularly like the close-up picture of the bare branch encased in ice.)

On 07 January 2004 (02:20 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

I just looked out a little bit ago to see that I have lost another big limb off the oak tree out back. That must have been a recent occurrence because I didn’t see it when I looked out earlier. Jake VanPelt is probably going to be happy about that, as it will mean more free firewood for him if he wants it. :-) I’m not ready to go walking around outside yet — that snow coated with ice looks too dicey, even though it is warmer.

Also, something weird about this site, J.D. — I posted that last entry on the blog page before this one a couple of hours ago and then as usual the comment didn’t show up when I checked foldedspace.org a few minutes ago, although that page was still the home page. Then there was another momentary power shut-off — the second one today — and after that, I had trouble getting back online for a few minutes. Now it is about 10 minutes later and there is a whole new home page and lots of comments! Almost instantaneously, it seems. Very strange! (I suspect it has more to do with AOL than your blog, though; I know to expect the unexpected with this server.)

On 07 January 2004 (08:57 PM),
Rich &Tiff said:

Nice pics. I have seen this once before, in Xenia, Ohio. Sometime in January we had a freezing rain a few days after a warm spell that had melted most of the snow. We had planted a Christmas tree in the front yard, and virtually every pine needle was sheathed in a perfect little ice coating like some kind of glistening echo of the green needle itself. Like you, I walked around taking pictures of everything I could find, though admittedly I slipped far more than I walked. The pine and the neighbor’s silver elm were the most impressive I saw. None of the pictures came out. I had no idea when I was a kid that flash plus shiny ice plus sunlight equaled blank white photo. I’m glad yours came out better. Live and learn.
Incidentally, we had the aurora that year as well.

On 08 January 2004 (10:29 AM),
pril said:

wow those are some nice pictures!

Aw, its just boring ol’ rain here, still. If it was icy like that, i’d be outside. My driveway makes a perfect sled run. There’s a dip as you hit the street, and you catch air going over the crown and land in the across-the-street neighbors parking area.

Previous post:

Next post: