Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snowy Morning

Today I awoke to a landscape draped in white and large wet snowflakes drifting down from the sky. They thumped gently upon the corrugated metal roof below my window, and occasionally collided with the glass pane making soft plopping sounds. The world outside brought to mind some kind of Bing Crosby Christmas fantasy and, looking out at Palmer’s potpourri of shipping containers, exposed pipes and rubbly driveways, I was reminded of how a layer of fresh snow can make almost anything look beautiful.

By mid-morning the sun was starting to peek out and Oona and I decided to take our zodiac to Dead Seal Island, near the periphery of the Palmer Safe Boating Area. It was cold enough that the snow had actually accumulated and several inches of fluffy whiteness rested atop everything. A large amount of brash ice had made its way over towards Palmer and it too was covered. The water looked like someone had strewn giant puffballs of cotton across it. Midway through the ice, we stopped to take a closer look. In between the soft, white-clad pieces of ice was a layer of snow floating atop the salt water. We were surrounded by a giant ocean slushy.

I eagerly threw my hydrophones overboard to have a listen, while Oona made a drawing of the curious shapes. The floating snow and ice was creating a hypnotic rhythm as it rose and fell with the ocean swells (here's what it sounded like), and I could easily have spent several hours happily floating in its midst.

We had barely left the zodiac parking lot and yet here was something worthy of serious investigation. Abandoning our original plan we lingered in the brash ice, adrift with our engine turned off. Sometimes the greatest wonders can be found in your own front yard (or front ocean, as the case may be).

Fluffy, snow-covered pieces of brash ice in a slurry of floating snow

Later the floating snow morphed into these micro pancake-ice shapes

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