Snow(drift) Day!

Every significant snowfall builds a big drift against the patio door, but this morning brought the biggest one we’ve ever had: about 6 inches taller than our convenient and smiley measuring stick.
Snow Day 2009: Patio Drift

I had to loop around the house to get to the drift, which extended back away from the house quite a ways.Snow Day 2009: Patio Drift from Outside

Thankfully, it was almost all light, fluffy snow, and I only needed ten minutes to remove it entirely, creating some good space for the girls to play later.
Snow Day 2009: Patio Drift Cleaned Up

If only I could have moved all the snow to our sledding “hill,” which is, annoyingly, still bare! Clearly, we need more snow.
Snow Day 2009: Almost-Bare Hill

Nordic Skiing Geekery

Though this blog is the focal point of my long-form web-based narcissism, I do have another blog that, come winter, gets a fair amount of my mental energy: the Nordic Commentary Project, which is a small (two-man) effort to provide top-level cross-country skiing with something beyond straight reporting. You know – analysis. Prognostication. Commentary, even.

Why, just this evening I wrote 1,000 words on who might – or rather, won’t – win one of the key races at the Olympics in February. It’s geeky, but by golly I tried to correctly use those crazy Swedish and Norwegian letters with the little circles and the slashed-out O’s and stuff. And what’s more I think I’m right about my guesswork! But I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to put 50 Norwegian krone down on the long odds against my prediction.

Snow Riding

Snowy Ride

Until this morning, I’d only biked in any kind of snow when I had to commute in the white stuff. But having a nice bike has changed my mind about biking in the snow, and since today was a brilliant winter day – about 20°F with a slight wind and sharp yellow sunlight – I hit the Arb trails. It was a lot of fun,* both because the Arb is especially pretty in the wintertime and because it was interesting to negotiate well-known trails when they’re snowy and icy. I did more fishtailing than a school of mackerel.

Snowy Ride

On top of that, I twice rode past the Arb crew and various Northfielders, cutting down some unneeded evergreens to serve as Christmas trees. There were lots of happy kids! I’ll be out riding in the Arb until or unless we get some serious snow soon.

* I did determine that I need to wear better gloves and socks, though. Because you don’t really move your fingers or toes while biking – or at least because I don’t, much – my fingers and toes were much more numb after these 45 minutes than they get after an hour’s skiing in colder temperatures.

Winter Walk

Northfield’s not short on great official and unofficial traditions, but the Winter Walk is one of the best. This is the third year that we’ve attended, and the first year that everybody walked the whole time (except for the short ride on a wagon pulled by two giant Percherons). This photo shows that the girls enjoyed it – and at this point, they had only had one cookie!

Winter Walkers
Winter Walkers

Kindergarten Science

Those teachers at Sibley Elementary are smuggling all kinds of science into kindergarten. This week, Julia has had three days of science – using various kinds of lenses on Tuesday, experimenting with magnets on Wednesday, and measuring objects today.

Not to say that all of this is having its intended effect or anything, but today at breakfast, Julia told me that when she grows up she wants to become an “outside scientist.” And a famous painter, and the co-owner (with Genevieve) of an ice cream shop, which they’ll brilliantly name the “Tassava Sisters Ice Cream Shop.” That’s a license to print money, which they can then use on their painting and outside science.

Anyhow, the best parts of the science days so far have been the worksheets – or can I call them “lab reports”? On Tuesday, she brought home a list of “observing tools” she’d used:

  • magnafid glas
  • microscop
  • banokyl [binoculars]

On Wednesday, she brought home a list of things which stuck to the various magnets:

  • paprklip
  • sisrs
  • can

and a list of things that didn’t:

  • stik
  • lef
  • ligkin logs

Today, she used special “inch blocks” to measure various objects:

  • toy
  • chip
  • lego
  • plain [a toy airplane]
  • pensl
  • strow

While this preliminary work is, indeed, quite promising, I would recommend that the investigator work closely with a proofreader and assessment expert as she makes plans to extend this pilot project.

Winter Poem

A poem in the hopes of winter…

“Untitled [Toward night]”
by Kevin Goodan

Toward night, frail flurries of snow. Fingernails of willows scratching frost from the edges of the kitchen window where I watch the field beyond the fence where once corn was taller than a man can reach but now I gaze into the kitchen of the next farmhouse and watch the man with a bad leg hobble from sink to table to feed his mother with a spoon. I keep the lights off and study snow to augur from the flakes what fortune I may. The furnace does its duty and cars pass, swirls of flurry captured in fading prisms of red. If I stood on the road it would glow and crackle beneath my feet. The air would be muted, my own breath sounding as though it came from another body, a shadow leaning faintly toward me as though to whisper any comfort. Animals would unshelter themselves to stand waiting at the fence. Snow would settle everything. I would cup my hands, realizing I had become what it was I wanted to be. The body beside me would breathe on. The two of us.