Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sun Dogs and Sled Dogs....Mush!

And here we go.....AGAIN!  We're in the "pink" (winter storm warning) (and that ain't good)...AGAIN.  Looks like we're right smack in Old Man Winter's crosshairs....AGAIN!  So, it's time to load up on firewood close to the house, haul hay to the gate for the cows, batten down the chicken coop, get the oil lamps ready in case the power goes off...AGAIN. 

Seems as though I've written this post before!  And before...!!!

There was a sundog in the east this morning--a full circular rainbow, too.  Sundogs are formed with the reflection/refraction of sunlight by the numerous small ice crystals that make up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds.  Often, as was the case this morning, there is an accompanying small "dash" of a rainbow just off to the side.  Learn more by clicking on the link above.

MM and I lived in Grayling, Alaska approximately 500 miles north of Fairbanks on the Yukon River through one winter.  We flew in by 5-place Cessna in September and didn't come out until May.  It was instructive and character-building.  We taught school in the Iditarod District.  Yes, that's where the Iditarod Race (part of it, anyway) takes place.

The snow that winter was extraordinary.  It covered everything by several feet.  We had to dig DOWN to get to the doorway of our log house.  Snow levels were even with the TOP of the windows, and we couldn't see out, except to see UP.  Most amazing was the morning temperature when we walked a short distance to the school in the dark:  Minus 72 degrees F.  The sun rose around 11:30 a.m. and set around 3:00 p.m.

Nobody whined about the weather.  It was a given that winter was what winter was supposed to be:  harsh, cold, challenging, but predictably so in every category.  Of course, they're "used to it."  But no, this was a particularly "bad" winter even for the Natives.  Nonetheless, they took it all in stride.  The Athabascans reveled in their winter regimen, that of dog-mushing on the frozen Yukon, as well as over the other rivers and through the woods, gathering fuel for woodburning stoves and checking their animal traps from which many made their living in the winter and doing winter crafts that would sell during the upcoming tourist season down in Fairbanks and Anchorage.  Snowmobiles provided most transporation and all was good and well until the unwary rider had an unpleasant encounter facing down a moose fully capable of running anything off the trail.

So, with the forecast here calling for 12 inches of snow, (minimum) we can reflect a little on the "mush" we're going to have when it all starts to melt! 

This time, the weather service is calling for before-the-snow sleet and freezing rain, followed by heavy snow.  All the way through Saturday night.

So far this winter we have avoided the freezing rain, except for one time when the precipitation oscillated between flakes and pellets for awhile. 

This time?  That power pole in the picture speaks volumes for many who are not as fortunately situated as we are out here just off the one-lane road.  So far, so good.  We're doing just fine.

And our sled dog does the best she can to help us with whatever task we toss her way.  This time the command of "Pull on it!" brings the sled home.

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