Thursday, January 15, 2009

January Fog in Vancouver's Endowment Land, Pacific Spirit Park

As our snow slowly melts under the atmospheric inversion, fog has been building up daily. Weather forecasters promise us daily that it will be warmer and sunny, and they are, without fail, mistaken. I took a long walk this afternoon on one of the paths into Vancouver's University Endowment Lands, known since 1988 as the Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Originally this land was set aside for the university so that whenever it needed money, it could develop the land and sell lots, but the depression and war intervened. Twenty years ago, the province declared that most of the remaining land would be a park, which is wonderful.

The trees are second-growth, meaning that the entire area had been harvested earlier, likely sometime around the 1920s and early 30s. Since then, there has been no cutting and the area is slowly reverting to forest. A society has been formed to eradicate non-native plants from the forest (people used to dump cuttings, unwanted soil, etc.) Thousands of people stroll through the forest's paths. We are lucky to live but two houses away.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Melting snow on a foggy day in Vancouver

Vancouver's foggy morning, 7:48 a.m.

Closeup shots of melting pile of snow:

Fresh snow intrigues everybody, but dirty piles of melting snow are either disgusting or a nuisance, viewed solely as an inevitable transition we must endure until the snow either disappears or returns with a fresh coat.

But the "dirty" snow has a beauty all its own. It visibly records what has fallen to the ground for the past several weeks--debris from our trees and particulates from our city's air.

A closer look at a melting pile of snow on our side street revealed new crystal structures (I obviously need a different tripod to capture this more fully), crystals which became rounded as they were eroded by warmer temperatures. These new shapes are quite different from the earlier symmetrical structures of the fresh snowflakes several weeks ago. The dirt in the snow will soon replenish the meager soil in our front yard (our soil is essentially glacial dump consisting of large rocks which are nearly impossible to move by hand, stones and stones finely ground into sand dropped here some 10,000 years ago when the ice age left this region). I am slowly learning to appreciate and enjoy this stage of snow.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Night photos of Vancouver's final (?) snow storm of the season

Our street lights are quite orange in colour.

Snow on tree, lit by street lamp.

Looking east on West 31st Avenue

Even now, in spite of days of rain and warmer weather, snow piles are everywhere, residential side roads are uncleared, and by now the meter of snow seems that it might last forever. My car keys fell somewhere in our snow, so I await the melting rather eagerly.

These pictures were taken on January 4th, around 8:45-9:00 p.m. during a fairly heavy snow shower. Several of us sensed that this was the final hurrah of this series of storms, so we took cameras outside one last time. The swirling wind made it impossible to keep snow off the lens, I shot at ISO 1600 hand-held. Our street lights are anything but white, so I include one picture rendered in black and white, to give a better sense of the stuff being snow. On the other hand, in many modern cities, this is the way our city snow now looks. Now British Columbia and Washington State face serious flooding problems, rock falls, avalanches and the like.