Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Fun

Some people might assume that people in North Dakota do nothing but sit inside, quilt, and catch up on their reading during the winter. Maybe order seeds from the catalog, drooling over pictures of summer plunder. I have to confess, there are elements of that picture that appeal to me, but as long as I have cabin-fevered adolescents under my roof, I am forced to get off my duff and go out into winter out of sheer self-defense.

I had planned on getting a snow mobile this winter (or at least snow shoes...whichever I could afford!), but it's a good thing I didn't scrimp and save for the purchase because there is no snow to mobile on. Every time we get a light dusting the weather warms up, melts the snow, and we have to start all over.

Last week we had managed to accumulate just enough to make sledding possible down one of the steepest hills in town. (You understand that's a relative designation!) The temps weren't that cold---in the 20's---but it was near sunset and the wind was a little past brisk and on into the freeze-valuable-body-parts-off zone. Still, such was our desperation that we managed to get several runs in before we had to call it quits.

I didn't allow snow boarding on the road because there was no cushion in case of falls except a thin layer of treacherous ice, but there was a little bit of snow on the edge of the road. If you stood on the board and did sort of a tap dance (heel, toe, heel, toe) you could propel it down the slope. As you can see, I totally rocked it.

After a few minutes, even the hardiest of us (read Devon, the boy with no discernible nerve function) had to make a dash for shelter. Of course shelter was yelling at them to get their rears up there while shelter drove off, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.

But that's not all we've been doing for fun. Oh, no. Why, the other night we had an exciting occurrence not possible while we lived in California---we got to see the Northern Lights. I love Northern Lights! Have for years, and I was always bitter that they didn't come visit sunny California. But now, once or twice a year, I get some in my own back yard.

Of course, it's not the most fancy of the varieties; you have to go further north for those. And the colors aren't as varied; I've only seen green so far, but as you can see, I still managed to get a reasonably decent shot.

Ha, ha. Just kidding. That was taken by somebody up in Alaska, but mine is interesting too, don't you think?

I found it very educational that if you are too cold and lazy to get out your tripod and if you don't know how to set a time exposure on your new camera, you can still get some beautiful shots of your frozen breath. (The aurora is right behind the mist cloud---isn't it beautiful?)

Alas, almost all of our snow is melted now. We had another warm spell where the temperatures got up to 50 degrees. That was the day we were in Plentywood and decided to see if the outdoor ice skating spot was usable. Before you laugh too hard, I didn't hold much hope, but thought it would be interesting to see what a skating rink was like at 50 degrees.

Muddy. It is muddy. Caleb, who approaches life with a lot more energy than my cautious self does, was several paces ahead of me and had a lot more momentum when we started to sink. The ice may have been fine, but the dirt around it was problematic to say the least. I backtracked out without getting any over the tops of my boots, but Caleb's white tennis shoes were not so lucky. I did get my workout though. Laughter is very good exercise.

It has gotten a little colder since then; no snow, but the ice has firmed back up well enough that I felt it was a good time to complete another one of my personal goals. I wanted to skate across the place where the road is flooded. Lest you think me totally insane, I had walked the whole distance in the summer and knew that it only came up to my waist at the most. If you stayed on the road---there were no promises on either side. And I took precautions. Caleb and I both carried inner tubes.

The ice was very sound, but it was a little disconcerting to see the white, thick ice turn dark and forbidding on each side of our narrow path. Sort of like crossing the Red Sea, but a lot colder. The skating was a little tough, too, because the ice had waves still frozen in it. My mom was so unkind as to comment afterward, "You seemed to spend a lot of time crawling during the skating part. What was up with that?" Sigh. Crawling was my secret strategy so I wouldn't stress the ice with too much speed. Obviously.

It was fun, but one member of our party most definitely did NOT approve. Finley spent the whole time in the van howling. I didn't want him to run out onto the untested part of the ice and fall through, so he had to suffer in safety. He did not suffer quietly. When my mom came back to the van, his side of the window was all fogged up from the frenzied yodeling.

All in all, it was a very satisfying experience. I can't wait to see what other joyful things winter may hold. ( I still want to try ice sailing....)

From this....

To this....

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