Among the nuances that govern daily life in cold country during October and November is the distinction between a freeze and a hard freeze.
A freeze simply means the temperature was at 32 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes or an hour.
A hard freeze means that the temperature sank to 25 degrees or lower and stayed there for several hours.
If it’s just a freeze, life pretty much goes on as usual. If it’s a hard freeze the things that everybody knows to do kick into seasonal reality and hit the to-do list.
A freeze won’t kill all the flowers. A hard freeze will.
A freeze won’t put an ice cover on the stock tanks down in the pasture. A hard freeze will.
There are hundred way to measure the business of cold weather. Here’s a site that provides a hundred different Inuit words for snow:
They have four words just for sparkling snow:
- sotla – snow sparkling with sunlight
- tlun – now sparkling with moonlight
- astrila – snow sparkling with starlight
- clim – snow sparkling with flashlight or headlight
Even in central Oregon there’s a level of cold where five degrees makes the difference between the dahlias just looking ragged or turning black and collapsing on themselves.
Where ten degrees makes the difference between letting the long garden hoses care for themselves on the side of the house or realizing that – unless I am absolutely positive the last half cup of water was drained from the faithful circles formed by the lower part of the hoses, I’d best make a place for them on the garage floor and bring them in.
Last year winter never arrived in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This year it has. Two more feet of snow forecast for Mt. Hood by tomorrow night. Nine inches of rain already this month, which is good news.
We have already had several nights in the 20s and several days where the high temp was in the low 30s.
I like weather. Real weather.
The long years in southern California gave us changes of season that would only be noted if a person really paid attention.
Eighteen years in Minnesota (from 1993 to 2011) reminded us about real weather that can kill you if you don’t pay attention.
Central Oregon is sometimes described as having a Mediterranean climate and has gently provided enough of all the extremes in the last four years to allow me to believe that I am surrounded by real weather but not the potentially fatal kind.
Works for me.
Spring explodes with every color of joy in the flowering bushes, ground cover, and trees.
Summer can be a series of hot days or just as likely several weeks of perfect-for-sitting-and-reading-on-the-patio weather. With the added benefit of no mosquitoes.
Fall here is truly fall – gradually cooler nights with stunning drifts of leaves in every possible color that crunch, giving beauty to the outline of the curbs and pathways.
The leaves provide a legitimate reason for a lightweight leaf blower that gives the satisfaction of a job done well that was also fun and I’m here to tell you that playing with electric tools is just as much as fun as I thought it would be when I was eight years old and was always to stay away from them.
Winter actually looks like winter but with less threat. There’s only an occasional blizzard but enough nights in the 20s and occasionally in the teens to require more firewood to be brought in. And that provides the perfectly defined need for my new 5T electric log splitter.
Which I no longer mention in conversation since most of the folks I might visit with own at least a 30T version or did in the past.
The only time I mentioned my toy, it turned out the person I was talking with had a 35T version sitting in his yard.