Quicksand snow in late late winter

Unrelenting cold is holding us in abeyance. I can feel my Alaskan friends start to smile already at the thought. Still, though it feels almost as if we are frozen and held in place by an unyielding environment, the signs of encroaching season change are there. The thermometer may read -7 or -8, but by the time stoves are lit and coffee is being sipped, it’s up to 10 already. Birds are louder and there are more of them, the sun has a magic it didn’t have two weeks ago.

But the presence of very weird snow is cramping our style. (That and the stupid blister I got myself with thick socks in ski boots the other day.) I’m not complaining about snow, mind you, I like snow. But this stuff is like ball bearings, quicksand, and flour all rolled into one loose mass that you can’t get purchase in or on or even near until you are way to the bottom of it on the 4 inches of solid and slippery ice between it and the ground. (Ground?)2015-02-28 at 12-26-03

I thought I’d rake a couple of roofs the other day, foolishly deciding that it was too far to go all the way to the woodshed and back for my show shoes — I’d just quickly stomp myself a trench out there. Uh, no. Ensued wallowing in hip-deep stuff that wouldn’t compact even the littlest bit, swallowing my every movement in some form of fluid dynamics that I bet has something to do with quicksand also. Roof raking isn’t exactly an elegant sport at the best of times, but I am kind of glad that no one was there to witness the 16-foot roof rake having its way with me in the snow. Halfway back to dry land and solid footing I thought I might have to swim or simply sink and never be heard from again.

No one was there to see, not even Buddy: this crap is too much for him to deal with and he tries to stay out of it. The result of all of which is that we stomp our daily round to the bog on a trail that’s now been worn deep and hard with use, and heaven forbid if you set a foot aside it, even in snow shoes. Since Buddy usually at least goes to visit his beaver friends and I tend to lose myself in that bog a couple of times a week in ordinary times, it’s no wonder we’re feeling a wee bit cramped here. Cabin Fever. Did I mention the cabin has all-but disappeared?

So when Saturday brought glorious sunshine and temps in the high teens, we decided to be adventurous, cross the beaver dam, and go see what’s up at the other end of the bog. It is now a featureless plain — as close to frozen solid as it will ever get, the snow has been packed somewhat by the cumulative effects of the wind and the sun and the air, and we caught us a bit of a refreshing perspective on our house and that of the beavers and walked our property line on what is usually water. Gotta view that fence once a year2015-02-28 at 10-11-12

And now it is going to rain on Wednesday. Wait, wait, I am not done skiing yet …. I take it all back what I said about snow.

Finally, I am taking bets: when do you think my five-foot fence will be free of ice? Pick the right date, and I have a surprise for you in the freezer.

Tell me what you think!