Monday, December 17, 2007

Cold Force

There is a power in this cold that is fascinating to watch and to hear. The strong winds are one thing as they roar through, wailing and sighing around the house and causing the trees to clatter and squeak when their branches rub against each other in the wind. As the temperature drops the sounds the trees make change. There is a noticeable change in the timber of their voices.

With next to no wind, barely a breeze, a few of the trees crack loudly as if they are going to split and crash to the ground, but nothing falls. It is just the sound of lumber contorting in the cold. It might be the dead wood standing tall in the Black Locust. That is as close as I can come to pinpointing this sound emanating from high in the tree tops and generated only in the cold. It is a cold sound.














The Rhododendrons take on the most pitiful look. The leaves curl, droop and turn dark. The worst case of over night wilting you can imagine. I marvel at this survival strategy. Notoriously shallow rooted, they wilt when the ground freezes and the liquid water is no longer available to their roots. It is a good thing it warms up enough for them to unfurl their leaves, flush out and turn green between cold spells. I do not know if I would want to look at such a pitiful thing all winter. Note to self: Do not plant Rhododendron in a major winter view plane. Just pitiful.

















The real force though, the one to be reckoned with is ice, that frozen water. A real phase shifter, it falls from the sky in a multitude of forms, many I have yet to see. Then it rises back from the ground in an assortment of patterns. In loose soil it rises high carrying a small load aloft. In gravel and firm ground there appears to be no change, but small stones are glued tightly in place in a cold unyielding embrace. It melts and refreezes and takes on a new form.














I have only been lightly dusted twice and I see power in this cold.

10 comments:

chuck b. said...

Now you can turn it around and think about cold as the absence of power. Because, technically, cold is not a quantity of anything, but rather the absence of another quantity.

Whatever--great post! You and Carol at May Dreams are really giving me the winter heebee-jeebies.

Carol said...

Cold is an interesting concept, isn't it?

Since I don't live in a woods or spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter, I don't hear the cracking that you describe. Wait until you have a good covering of snow, go ouside when it is calm and you will hear... practically nothing. The snow muffles all the usual sounds.

Cheryl said...

Ice storms. Lots of damage and power outages, but facinating.

The silence is astounding. Just the tinkle of ice crystals and the occasional crash of a tree branch falling (hopefully not on a house).

It is a beautiful, silent time.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I love the sounds you describe. I alwyas look forward to hearing what the trees say about the wind, rain and snow.

Christopher C. NC said...

This forest is not in the least bit quiet so far. I am still adjusting to the sounds, familiarizing myself with them so I will be able to tell friend from foe. Maybe with a thick coating of snow it will quiet down for a spell.

The County Clerk said...

Chuck is right. You have to flip your thinking about. There is no such thing as cold. There is only heat. When the heat goes, we feel it.

The "power" you are feeling is "longing." The heat of life is absent.

It is like a lover in a room. When he/she/it is there, it is summer. When not, winter.

The power you feel is a void. When heat goes away, life goes with it.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I don't necessarily think that should preclude planting a rhododendron... frankly, I've posted pics of mine in that state as well, and sometimes it's fun to watch the leaves close one day and be more open on the next, then close again the following...

But then, we have chilly winters. I take my winter interest where I can get it, even if it's in watching rhododendron leaves. :)

Christopher C. NC said...

Kim I am sure I will plant more Rhododendrons. There are native ones on my parcel already that need some TLC. It may take a few years for me to get used to how pitiful they look when the leaves droop and curl in the below freezing cold. I just don't think I am ready to stare at one all day through a window

EAL said...

"Cigars of misery" is a term I heard once for winter rhodos and I agree.

lisa said...

I hear the tree cracking you speak of in the winter, too. The river makes even more strange noises, with big frozen chunks shifting from the current running underneath. It sounds like glass in the spring as it breaks up, but while freezing it sounds more like boulders falling-fairly unsettling.