Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Severe Beauty - Thoughts on Snow

Here are a handful of photos of snow at our house. I know, do we really need more snow pictures on the internet? I mean, EVERYBODY has snow right now, so whats the big deal?

This (above) is a picture of our garden at sundown one day last week, before the smackdown we got on Tuesday.

This I took on Tuesday...and it is about a foot deeper.

This is taken from our front yard looking down towards the mouth of our driveway onto US Hwy. 27, the road we live on. Our driveway is a deep cut in the side of a steep hill. Typically, the sides rise up to 12 feet or so on each side. In this picture, it is full of snow. We don't leave the house when it is like this.

Here's a picture of the back side, accross the driveway . The door on the left is the one we normally use to enter and exit. There are three steps there, completely buried in snow at the moment. The handle of the shovel, visible near the door, is a portend of the labor to come.

This is a shot from "the Big Porch", looking south, across the driveway, and the field beyond. Snow is so beautiful.

Snow removal is interesting to me, too. In spite of mankind's sophisticated technologies, there is not much that we can do about it when snow falls where we don't want it. When snow falls in great quantity, the world comes to a standstill. Snow dictates its own terms. There are no really effective snow elimination systems. The only thing man can do with snow is move it somewhere else. There are snow blowers, snow plows, and snow shovels, but the only really effective snow eliminator is the sun.

You might think that there should be some high-tech laser evaporater device that would quickly clean off the driveway and make the roads and sidewalks safe, but no. Its the most elemental laws of physics at work. When you melt snow, you get water. When you heat water (with your laser), you get steam. Well, if its still cold outside, and it obviously is or you wouldn't be out playing with the snow laser in the first place, then the steam will become ice again and fall back to the earth. And there you are, only now its worse. Because now you have to figure out how to get rid of the ice that you made. Ice is a much bigger pain than snow to get rid of. That is why there aren't ice shovels, ice plows, and ice blowers. You should have just moved the snow somewhere else.

With ice, you can use salt or chemicals, but that only works to a point. The melting catalyst works with increasingly less capability as it dilutes and, eventually, if the cold temperature continues, the liquid will refreeze. You have more ice.

The sun is really good at melting snow and ice. Its not fast, but it is relentless. Sometimes we're not as smart as we think we are. And I don't have a problem with that.

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