Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Chills & Thrills

The cold felt sharp on my bare arms as I watched my wife bike down the hill to work yesterday morning. It was still a few minutes before the sun would rise above Twin Peaks. Thankfully the morning warmed up quite a bit by the time I headed out on my walk to the beach. 

I'd checked the Ocean Beach web cam before leaving, and it looked like the swell had dissipated, so I didn't bring my camera. Which was too bad, because there actually was a swell, and the morning light would have been excellent for surf photography. I watched the action for a while before heading back home, a 45-minute walk, then got on my bike and went back to the beach with the FZ80. The light wasn't as nice by the time I got there, but it was still fun to fire off a few frames.

I watched the action for about 45 minutes, telling myself several times, "Just one more set, and then I'll go." There was no rush, really, except that I was wearing shorts and a windbreaker, which were fine for the bike ride but not so great for standing in one place exposed to the wind and cold. And of course the ride home was into a headwind, so I made haste to help stay warm, and I made a hot bowl of soup when I finally got home.

Tube ride...

...and he makes it out!

Being cold often reminds me of the coldest day I ever experienced, back in January 1982, when Chicago had a record cold day of 26 degrees below zero, with a wind chill making it 81 below. I was only going to be in Chicago for a few months, so I put on my jacket and tried to walk to a movie theater about six blocks away. After three blocks I began to fully appreciate the sensation of being exposed to life-threatening cold, so I popped into a coffee shop to warm up before turning around to head back home. That record cold was broken in 1985 by just one degree, but thankfully I was in California by then.

I found this clip in the New York Times from Jan. 11, 1982:

One of the deepest winter chills on record numbed much of the nation today. It was the coldest day on record for Chicago, at 26 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. In the most brutal cold spell of the season, records were broken in many other places in the Middle West, and swirling snowstorms and icy winds left scores stranded on highways or without heat in their homes….

The situation was most critical in the Great Lakes region as an Arctic air mass rolled across the Canadian border. In Chicago, winds of 35 to 60 miles an hour made it feel like 81 below, the National Weather Service said. ''This is a real emergency,'' Mayor Jane M. Byrne of Chicago said as she as she convened a meeting of all city department heads to make plans for dealing with the cold, which is expected to continue through most of the week.

Schools were ordered closed Monday, and the Mayor said city buses would be kept idling all night to insure that they could run in the morning.

Ethereal Botany

Water blowing off Lake Michigan coated these tree branches with ice (which I photographed using a colored gel filter) in the winter of '82.

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