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Posts Tagged ‘Ice Fishing’

Well, we survived the coldest stretch of weather I’ve ever seen and now we’re in the midst of a January thaw, but I didn’t think I’d ever thaw out after going out on January 7 th to take many of these photos. It was a brisk 14°F but the sun was shining and I didn’t think it would be too bad, but it still felt frigid because of a breeze. Anyhow, anyone who lives here would know how cold it must have been just by seeing this photo of the Ashuelot River in Swanzey frozen from bank to bank. I think this is the first time in two or three years that this has happened.

Downstream from the previous photo ice shelves were forming but the river was open.

You could see how much ice had formed since the last snow. But the last snow was just 3 days before this photo was taken.

Close to a foot of snow fell and plowing it made mountain ranges.

After the snow storm dragged down more arctic air it got even colder; too cold to be outside for more than just a few minutes.

On New Hampshire’s tallest peak Mount Washington, a tie score for the second coldest place on the planet was recently recorded. At -36 ° F. with a wind chill of -94 °F. it was just two degrees warmer than Yakutsk Russia. What an honor.

Birches bent under the weight of the snow, which fell on top of the ice from the December ice storm. It has been so cold that the ice from that storm weeks ago has never melted.

The birches were giving up their seeds to the wind and to the birds too, probably.

Birds are definitely eating the seeds from eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) cones. Chickadees, pine siskins and other small birds eat them, and several species of warblers nest in the dense foliage. Larger birds like turkeys, owls, and grouse will often roost in the branches, possibly because hemlocks are excellent at shedding water. You can stand under large hemlocks in a pouring rain and barely feel a drop. Deer will eat the foliage.

By September the small cones and seeds of eastern hemlock are ripe but are still green, wet and oily. Once the cones begin to turn brown the seeds will be dry and birds can get at them as soon as the cone opens like the one pictured. Hemlock seeds are often lacking in viability, with less than 20% of them viable. Hemlock trees can live to 800 years old and reach a height of 175 feet. Native Americans used the inner bark, roots, and needles of hemlocks medicinally. They contain antiseptic properties and were used to treat wounds and in sweat lodges to treat colds and rheumatism. When food supplies were low the inner bark was often eaten.

Bird tracks under the hemlocks reveal their value to wildlife.

The birds have eaten all the coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) seeds. Since these coneflowers were mostly planted by the birds the seeds belong to them and I don’t cut them or other plants back until spring. The more seeds they eat and spread around the yard, the more plants I’ll / we’ll have.

A motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) stem poked up from the snow and I thought it was interesting how I could see where all the little tufts of tiny flowers had been much easier without its leaves in the way. Of course the flowers are now seed pods. Though I’ve searched to find out which birds eat the seeds of motherwort I didn’t have any luck at all. It could be because the plant isn’t native, coming originally from Asia. It was brought here because of its long history of medicinal use in Europe and Asia. It is said to be useful as a heart medicine, hence the cardiaca part of its scientific name. It has a sedative effect and is also said to be useful to treat anxiety and muscle spasms.

The ice on most lakes and ponds is safe now, probably thicker than it’s been in years, and fishermen have begun setting up their bob houses. Some of these small, garden shed size buildings are quite elaborate, with all the comforts of home included. This fisherman built his out of clear corrugated plastic, probably hoping for some solar gain. I’d have to want to catch a fish pretty badly to stand on the ice all day, even if it was in a bob house.

When you approach a frozen over pond with snow covered ice you often can’t tell where the land ends and the water begins, so I look for cattails (Typha latifolia.) They always tell me right where the water starts.

Japanese knotweed stems (Fallopia japonica) looked red in the bright sunshine. It’s too bad this plant is so invasive, because it is pretty through much of its life cycle.

Milk white toothed polypores are resupinate fungi, which means they look like they grow upside down, and that’s what many crust fungi seem to do. This is a common winter fungus with “teeth” that are actually ragged bits of spore producing tissue which start life as pores or tubes and break apart and turn brown as they age. This fungus can be found on the undersides of hardwood tree branches. They don’t seem to mind the bitter cold temperatures we’ve had.

When I was in high school I had an art teacher who knew how to paint winter scenes. She taught me how to paint snow on tree branches and have it look realistic, and how to paint snowy landscapes. She was a professional artist as well as a teacher so she knew her way around an easel, but I still questioned her when she said that my gray winter shadows should be blue. I told her I painted them as I saw them, and I saw gray. I don’t know if it was colorblindness or some other reason that I saw gray but whatever it was has corrected itself and now I see blue winter shadows, just as Miss Safford said they should be. What makes them blue? The ice crystals that make up the snow reflect the ambient blue light from the sky. The color of a shadow is determined by the amount of light reaching the area that is in shade and light from the blue sky will even illuminate shaded areas. If the sky is gray, the shadows will appear gray.

It was so cold on this day that even the window frost seemed contracted, like each crystal had been held back by an icy grip, so instead of large, elaborate and beautiful frost feathers what formed were blocky, clunky crystals.

Here is an extreme close up of some window frost crystals. They didn’t have the beauty of frost feathers but this example reminded me of Aztec and Inca carvings I’ve seen photos of. It looks like a figure with a headdress, a long nose or beak, and wings. Or maybe it just looks like ice. I’ll let you decide.

Nearness to nature keeps the spirit sensitive to impressions not commonly felt, and in touch with the unseen powers. ~Charles Eastman

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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1. Backyard

There’s a high pressure system sitting and spinning in Canada that’s dragging down bitter cold air and one snowstorm after another, sometimes as many as three in a single week. With nothing but cold weather between the storms the snow doesn’t melt but instead just builds up. I tried taking a photo of the trees in my backyard during one storm. Judging by the blurry spot on the right one of the flakes landed on my lens, but I didn’t see it until just now. I never have great luck taking photos when it’s snowing but I wanted to try to show you what it was like.

2. Snow Depth

I didn’t realize I had cropped this photo so the yardstick said “the finest pain” but it fit so I left it that way. Actually, I don’t know if I could call the pains I have from shoveling my roof “the finest,” but they’re right up there in the top five. If I have to shovel it once more they might make it to number one.

The snow had settled some when I took this shot in my back yard and the spot was in a hemlock shadow, so it’s not entirely accurate.  I think 24 inches is closer to reality, but I was too worn out to wade through anymore knee deep snow that day.

3. Evergreens

Evergreens always look nice when they’ve been frosted by show, especially when they’re not in my yard and I don’t have to shovel the frosting.

 4. Bent Birches

It’s been so cold that the snow has been very light, dry and powdery, but the heavy wet snow that we had in November on Thanksgiving eve bent many of the birches. Though most of them stood right back up again there are some that didn’t, and I’m curious to see what will become of them. I wonder if they’ll just grow on in their bent state or if they’ll die.  I’m guessing that they won’t last long.

5. Beech and Oak Leaves

The beech and oak leaves add such beautiful colors to the winter woods, especially when the sun breaks through the clouds.

6. Ashuelot

You know it’s cold when you see the Ashuelot River frozen from bank to bank in this spot in Swanzey. I’ve only seen it happen twice; last year and this year. Both winters had extended periods of zero degrees F or below at night.

7. River View

You would think that the farther north you went the more likely a river would be to freeze over but the strength of the current plays a part in it as well. In this spot north of Keene, I’ve never seen it freeze over completely so I’m guessing that the current must be quite strong.

8. Roadside Icicles

There’s no problem with water freezing on the ledges along the side of this highway. I’m guessing that it must be close to 100 feet from the top of the hill, so these are some of the longest icicles that I’ve seen.

9. Roadside Icicles

They’re bigger than tree trunks and have a blueish tint. I don’t want to be anywhere near them when the temperature starts rising.

10. Ice Fishing Hut

The bright sunshine can be deceiving. It was bitter cold here this day with the wind coming hard across the pond so I took a couple of quick shots and jumped back into my truck. The ice fishermen were all huddled in their huts and I didn’t blame them.

11. Dim Sun

There are a few photos of sunny days in this post but most of our days have looked more like this, with the sun trying but not quite able to burn through.  There was actually snow falling when I took this, in spite of what the sun was doing.

12. Monadnock

I went to get a closer look at Mount Monadnock on one sunny day because, though it’s easily seen from Keene, I don’t get to see it up close that often. I grew up in the shadow of this mountain and it’s good to know that, no matter where you are in this part of the state, all you have to do is look over your shoulder and there it is, like an old friend.

13. Monadnock

I’ll never forget climbing up there in mid-April one year through waist deep snow. It must be shoulder deep right now so I think I’ll just stay down here and admire it. The snow might make it harder to climb but it also makes it more beautiful to see.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” ~A.A. Milne

Thanks for coming by.

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