Life in a cabin on a mountain in southern Pennsylvania
Thursday, January 24, 2013
The deep freeze continues at my cabin on Roundtop Mtn. Yesterday was the coldest morning so far at 5 degrees. That’s the coldest it’s been in two years. Last winter was exceptionally warm, so more than 700 days have passed since I’ve felt cold this deep. It feels odd to me that weather once so common has now become so rare.
The cold takes a bit of getting used to, again. My bones didn’t remember the feel of it for a while, though I think that sense memory is back, and both me and my bones have settled into our winter patterns again. I find myself dashing out the front door, covered only by indoor clothes, a hat and my gloves to feed the chickens and give them fresh water. It’s only later that I realize the temperature was in the single digits when I did that.
The new chickens aren’t used to the cold and don’t know enough yet to drink their water before it freezes. The old chickens drink whenever fresh water is given them, whether they are thirsty or not. They remember how the water freezes. They know they have to drink while the water is still in liquid form. For the young chickens, winter is still odd and mysterious, a time of frozen water and a cold white covering on the ground.
This morning I had a dusting of snow and am likely to add a few inches to the dusting sometime tomorrow. The dusting was dry and crunchy beneath my boots during my pre-dawn walk this morning. For the first time in a few days, the morning walk was enjoyable. The wind was calm, a blessed relief from the days before.
Snow makes everything look prettier.
Even at 10 degrees, little ice forms on Roundtop’s snowmaking ponds. They’ve been making snow 24 hours a day since the temperature dropped, and the constant drawing of water from the pond keeps it open. I did find a little ice starting to form around the stalks of last year’s phragmites along the pond’s edge.
Winter still feels like a visitor to me, though, rather than a regular seasonal tenant. Here I am more than one third of the way through the season, and this week is only the second week of actual winter weather that’s graced the mountain. It’s harder for me to get used to that notion than it is to get used to the cold.
I live in a cabin in the forests of Pennsylvania. I write about what I see and do in the natural world around me. I've been a hawkwatcher for more than 20 years, a birder for longer than that, and a crayfish-catcher since I was a polywog.