Looks like Lake Michigan is finally fixin' to freeze!
When I arrived back in Evanston this past Wednesday, there were at least 10 inches of snow on the ground and great piles of it lined the streets so profusely that it was difficult for me to park my little Yaris without taking up half the remaining road. I sighed in resignation as I trucked my bags through the icy mire and felt more than a little tempted to buy a reserved parking space so I'd avoid the hassle of moving my car for every "snow emergency" (after 4 inches accumulation the plows are deployed and cars may only be parked on one or the other side of the street depending on whether it's an odd or even date--if you fail to move your vehicle it is immediately towed).
I woke up Thursday morning to...rain?...and temperatures soaring to a balmy 45 degrees...nice! When I drove to school for my morning practice I was shocked--and relieved--to see that Lake Michigan was still as ice-free as when I'd left it 3 weeks ago. "I'll be able to watch the big freeze after all!" I thought.
On Friday, the last day of December, I was awoken in the wee hours by a powerful thunderstorm, and later in the day our thermometers registered temps in the mid 50's! When I walked out to my car I was amazed to discover that all the snow--including the enormous brown hills created by the plows (they'd been over waist deep)--had disappeared. The exposed grass was saturated with melt and indented with every step creating mini lakes around my feet as I walked (or rather waded) across it. Despite the sogg, it felt great to walk around town in nothing but a shirt and sweat jacket, and I went about my day trying to ignore too many thoughts of tomorrow, which forecasters promised would send the mercury on a 30-degree nose dive.
After practicing I ventured out for a little fun with my camera taking my typical barrage of nature photos with the usual thought that I'd take them home as inspiration for future art projects...Which I still fully intend to follow through with...promise!
Unlike Lake Michigan, the central pond on campus was still mostly frozen--though on that warm afternoon the few large cracks betrayed a reason why even in mid January, this pond would likely be a poor candidate for an outdoor skating venue...no matter how solid it may appear. I was particularly intrigued with this crack's resemblance to the branch of a tree...it's last few leaves suspended in mid-fall...
I also walked by the site behind the Norris Student Center where a real ice-skating rink is being constructed. I'd received an email a week-or-so ago advertising this exciting new addition to campus by posing the question: "What do Rockefeller Center, The Eiffel Tower, and Norris all have in common? They all have outdoor skating rinks!" Here it's looking a little sad in the warm and wet...but I'm sure it's time will come soon enough.
Except for a joint-crossword-solving Rob and I engaged in on Friday night, the final hours of 2010 passed relatively uneventfully for me. The first days of 2011 have also seemed rather stale as I go about a tired practice routine (which I've been trying to change up a bit today) and fret about my Wind Ensemble placement audition on Monday along with everything else I'll have to deal with this quarter. Maybe it's just the cold grayness of everything that's been leaving me with a less-than-lustrous outlook. Maybe it's being separated from Rob again after what seemed like such a good long time together. Whatever the cause, I've been craving a dose of Wonder stimulating enough to wake me from my gloom and get me back in the game.
When I parked my car at Regenstein this morning I glanced over at the lake and thought something looked a little different. There were these large patches of dark and light that appeared stationary and reached far out from shore. "Is that what I think it is?" I thought.
I grabbed my camera and walked to my usual outlook. Sure enough, little nodules of slush were slithering up and down the shoreline in long gooey waves, and further out it did appear that a substantial (if somewhat frail) layer of ice hovered on the surface. I stood there for a few minutes taking picture after picture and listening to the slushhhhhhh of the water (I had never fully appreciated the onomatopoetic properties of that word) and was able--for a short time--to ignore the pain in my fingers and the freezing breeze on my face.
In the picture at left you can see a large snow shelf (that miraculously survived the previous days melt) running along the beach. To give you a sense of scale, the white snowball broken off at the bottom is about 3 feet high.
I guess I shouldn't be totally surprised with this initial freeze. Last night as I (rather reluctantly) walked around town, the air itself was plenty frigid...even without the 30+ mph wind gusts that undoubtedly brought the chill somewhere down around zero.
Right now I'm sitting in the lounge finishing up a longish practice break, and have got a great view of the slightly-frozen water. You know, I actually did make one formal New Year's resolution. Might as well tell you about it here. I decided to floss...every day...no really! Like everyone else in the country I'm always wanting to lose weight and get more fit, but even though I continue to have that goal, I'm tired of making it a real New Year's resolution and dooming it to ultimate failure because I initially get all-excited-about-it-and-totally-gung-ho-and-go-so-overboard-in-the-extreme that my Grande efforts prove unsustainable. Daily flossing is nice and simple...totally doable, ultra good-for-me, and by some estimates, one of the cheapest ways to save big money in the long run by helping to prevent big painful dental ordeals. I do already floss...sort of...like once a week or so (blush), but from now on it's a permanent fixture on my daily to-do list.
Wish me luck...and I'll wish you some too:)