Snow, for all of its inconveniences—driving challenges, shoveling, and slippery walking—also has a lot going for it. The obvious of course is the beauty of a snowfall and the wonders of the countryside transformed from the drabness of late fall’s browns and grays to a world of white. Snow also provides an opportunity to ski and snowshoe and go sledding. And a chance to build a snowman or a snow fort or maybe even experience a friendly snowball fight.
I did a little digging, no pun intended, into the characteristics of snow, and came up with some interesting information, at least interesting to me.
Snow is not always white. It may also appear blue especially on a cold winter night when the moon is out.
Most of us have experienced how sound changes after a fresh snowfall. Sound is absorbed by snow, muffling it. But when the snow becomes hard and crusty, the opposite happens. Sound bounces off the snow’s surface and travels farther. Of course we all know the sound packed snow makes when we walk on it, especially on cold days when it creaks and crunches, and sounds like it is protesting our presence.
Snow is also a great insulator. Fresh snow is made up of from ninety to ninety-five percent air. Many animals know about snow’s insulating qualities as they burrow into snow to keep warm. Farmers know this as a good snow cover protects crops such as alfalfa from “winter kill.” A good snow cover also keeps my septic system from freezing—not a good thing as it happened a few years ago when we had a stretch of below zero weather and no snow.
Snow also stores water. Ten-inches of snow may equal one-inch of water. Or ten inches of snow could contain as little as one-tenth inch of water. It depends on whether a snowfall is enhanced by moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, or comes from the dry plains of Canada.
This is probably more than you wanted to know about snow, but I find it all interesting as we plow on into the new year with many more snowfalls to come.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Let it snow, let it snow. Nothing much we can about it anyway.
January 8, Downtown Madison Rotary, Noon. Limping Through Life
January 15-16. La Crosse Farm Show, Convention Center. Winter on the Farm featuring stories from THE QUIET SEASON. Speaking each day at 11:00 and 1:00.
January 19, 2:00 p.m. Gard Theater, Spring Green. Showing of Winter on the Farm with questions and discussion. Followed by book signing of THE QUIET SEASON. Sponsored by Wisconsin Public TV and Arcadia Bookstore.
January 22, 6:30 p.m. UW-Eau Claire Woodland Theater (in Davis Student Center). TV show with live presentation. (Winter on the Farm) Book signing of THE QUIET SEASON.