Thursday, February 27, 2014

Polar Vortex Returns

We, like many of you, felt the Polar Vortex lift off for a few days, only to return again in earnest. But the cold brings with it several benefits that you in the city or suburbs can't appreciate. The first is that freezing temperatures discourage the hatching of flies. We had only five consecutive days when the thermometer read above freezing - 43 being the highest it soared - and the effect on the latent in-house fly population was immediate. I decided to kill and then count the fly carcasses from just one average size window in this house (although I must admit it is in the running for most productive) and the results were unsavory. After just three warm days I had confirmation of more than 162 flies dead and stopped counting. That is just one window downstairs. We are not even talking about my upstairs studio. I get all crunchy inside, killing so many flies and witnessing the futility of my actions. I know there will be 50 more to contend with the next time I look. Arden, on the other hand, has just become sensitive to the miracle that flies are. She likes to reach and touch them as they walk up the living room window, and in a sharp twist of character I find myself assisting her - holding her up to see them, gently nudging them towards her open fingers. At least someone's enjoying them.

The few days of sustained warmth had other obvious effects here, namely the thaw en masse of vast amounts of accumulated snowfall. I was nursing Arden on the couch in the late afternoon when I heard something shift - a subtle elevation in white noise - and I looked behind me just in time to see this begin.

The stream had inches of ice on its surface which had been covered by around 18 inches of snow. I presume the wind helped this along by blowing more into the hollow of the stream bed. On one of the warmest days we sustained heavy rains and Garth and I were waiting to see what would come of it. We got our answer in the above image. An ice dam somewhere upstream must have cracked under the pressure and sent this dark and frothing 'frosty' hurling. I have never seen such a thing. It kept up for around an hour.

This is the aftermath. You can see where the water plowed the edges of the stream's snow bank.

And thankfully now the Polar Vortex has returned, which is no surprise to you, reading this, as you are, in your blanket and hat. It left long enough to give us a taste of what's to come, and I'd be lying if I said we didn't like it. But the upside is that the flies are less enthusiastic (although still coming by the handful daily). At the very least you now have proof that we don't spray for flies or use other insecticides, apart from our own hands.

Lastly, I am grateful that Garth takes Arden to do the afternoon chores, regardless of the Vortex's whereabouts. She doesn't complain, and if it is really blowing we do keep her in. 

- Alanna