Reprieve from the Wind

The cold wind–it rips right through several layers of clothing. The thing is to wear enough layers so that your own escaping warmth is slowed sufficiently to enable you to get done whatever is needed at the time, whether it is to shovel the snow that always collects in the driveway at night, replace the taillight that picked a day when the wind-chill was -30 to say “I’m done,” or even to just walk around in the outdoors to sort a few things out. Escape is always welcome.

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The mid-morning sun does little to warm things up. It’s still too low to even let you talk about the length of the shadows it casts. Fortunately the wind is “out” so, at least here in Middle Cove, there’s some reprieve; a chance to just watch some of the daily rhythms.

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Standing under the shelter of the ice-covered rock, watching the waves come and go the passage of time is deceptively hard to measure. Just the wind high overhead, whooshing through the spruce trees and the waves, rattling the rocks and me, watching the rising tide…longer than intended.

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By the time I turned to move the run had risen past the hill. Finally, the sunlight starts to creep along the shore.

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Soon, at least, you would be able to measure the shadows.

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The winter light still plays tricks on the eyes. From even just a few metres away the smooth beach rocks seem to offer a relief from the difficult task of walking through the snow-covered rocks further up the shore.

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Closer examination reveals a different truth. Ice-crusted beach rocks provide a walking surface that is truly alien. At first firm, but when only half your body weight lies on your leading foot the rocks separate and ooze apart. The foot settles a few centimeters. Always slippery; even though in a more-or-less foot shaped depression your boots still want to slide; you have to walk as if on wet ice, but wet ice that undulates with your weight. Every step as considered as ones you took back on the larger rocks.

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Not an easy walk, for sure, but still, in its own unique way, comforting.

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The wind will rise and fall, as will the tide. The waves will come and go sometimes, as is the case today, gently; often not. The shadows will lengthen and shorten. Even the winter’s cold, it too will go and come again.

And as for us who choose to dally here from time to time, we too have our own rhythms to attend to.

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About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
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16 Responses to Reprieve from the Wind

  1. jennypellett says:

    Looks really, really cold – but what fab pictures, especially the icicles hanging off the rocks and I love the colours of the beach pebbles against the crystal iciness. I don’t think I’ve ever seen snow/ice on a beach.
    Here, the rain has stopped temporarily and we’ve been treated to some welcome sunshine. The heathland is holding water like a heavy sponge but there were signs of spring this morning.

  2. SJ O'Hart says:

    Amazing photographs! I’ve never seen anything like them before. The idea of beach pebbles being frozen over like this is alien to me – I will never complain about Ireland’s weather again! Though, I have to admit, it looks absolutely beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing them.

    • That said, my recollection was that Dublin had its own version of nasty. I recall one summer–mid seventies–spent with my grandparents in Kilester and the temperatures remained around 3 to 5 degrees for almost the whole time. AWFUL!

  3. Nice, really nice. The ice formations are really nice. Do these form from freshwater runoff, or from salt spray? And, what about the encrustations on the pebbles? Is that fresh, salt, a combination … or do the enclosures form from moisture on the air? Such a cool place … I’d love to spend an afternoon, there at the beach, with my cameras. Thanks for the beautiful images … I needed the break they provided. Had to put a horse down last night … and then get her in the ground today … not fun … why do these things always happen in winter? D

    • Dave, I am so sorry to hear about the horse. It is so very sad when we have to lose valuable members of the daily team. Farming means stewardship on behalf of those involved and, sadly, that’s not always pleasant. Sometimes we have to do things we would rather not and all we have to carry us forward is the belief that what we are doing is right. Faith–a word that gets used far too often in ways I disagree with–does have relevance, though. This is one of those times–you face a difficult decision, armed with only some of the facts but also very aware of the gravity of the choices you make either way. In the end, it comes down to that edge you get, a set of values and principles that you have accumulated over the years, through many, many different sources and experiences. In the end, that thing–which I call faith–is what gives you what is needed to carry through with what needs to be done.
      And, no, I don’t know why it happens in winter. Perhaps it’s a time we feel most at ease with putting the tools away and setting in to rest. Who knows?
      As for the ice on the beach rocks I am pretty sure it’s caused by vapourization of salt sea water and then almost immediate condensation of the now fresh water on the colder solid surroundings–namely the beach and cliffs. And as for the little bits of salt left behind when the sea water drops vapourize–I assume they’ll serve well as “seeds” later on for the much-needed rain…somewhere else.

      • I like, and very much agree with, your explication of ‘faith.’ Especially the characterization of it an experiential ‘edge,’ gained over time. In the particular case of the circumstances which presented themselves on Friday … we were well aware of the situation and probable outcomes of two or three possible scenarios. We could even assign probabilities to the various outcomes and what it meant for the quality of life of the animal involved. Most important in all of this was what was best for the animal … not what was convenient … not what was comfortable … not what was least expensive both in terms of dollars and of time. All of our considerations were based on knowledge, gained from years of experience. The decisions were quick and decisive … they needed to be. I guess my problem with the word faith is that, in the common vernacular, it implies action without basis … blind faith. And that, I want no part of. Thanks for the condolences. Much appreciated. Will pass them along to J. D

  4. Tiny says:

    Beautiful pictures from your walk in the cold! Ice makes nice sculptures of the rocks, but I can see how challenging the walk must be on the frozen beach rocks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of beach “live” since we didn’t live close to a beach when I was growing up. But I remember -30C weather and colder, with wind hauling and snow drifting in the air…waiting for my bus to school.

    • Yes, the cold winter weather has its way with everything. We mostly notice it on the roads, in and around our houses–driveways that need constant attention an doors that no longer hold fast against the elements.
      The true beauty, though is to be found in those places where nature is left to its own.

  5. elkement says:

    This was the right posting for my Sunday afternoon reading – very medidative 🙂 … I can nearly hear the tide, too!
    As discussed on Facebook, here we have spring – I have started to remove moss from the lawn today.

    • I am more than a little envious. Today (right now it’s 1PM) it’s fairly bright–sun and cloud–and only a little wind. The temperature is -9 but it feels better than that. I was just out scraping some of the accumulated ice from the driveway. The sun, and some salt, will help. During the week we are expecting another mass of arctic air to move down and the temperatures will go to around -15 for most of the week. That will mean around -30 with the expected wind-chill.
      Around here, though we say, regarding March, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” Since we started the month with cold, snow and wind I expect it will turn around for the end of the month.
      Elke–I am truly looking forward to that.
      As an aside, my morning physics dalliance was on FM. I had need of explaining (1) side bands and (2) how stereo broadcast is achieved through the use of three channels (carrier, L+R and L-R). It was interesting–something I hadn’t done much with for over a decade. Nice to revisit “old friends” from time to time.

  6. Mjollnir says:

    Looks a bit chillier than a very mild Norway at the moment. Nice pics.

  7. johnlmalone says:

    great pictures, Maurice. As you are aware I come from the land down under where there is little ice and except in the high mountain areas in id-winter very little snow. We had one of our hottest summers in Adelaide with thirteen days above 40 degrees celsius

  8. tw says:

    I can almost feel the cold but most of all I’m drawn to what is a startlingly beautiful and truly amazing part of this planet. Thank you for sharing your home with those of us across the sea

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