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Apocalypse Wow

The Potomac has been frozen solid for weeks this winter.

The Potomac has been frozen solid for weeks this winter.

We’re starting to get the hang of it.

That first “polar vortex” caught us napping, dreaming our playful global warming scenarios, the ones in which we don’t run out of fresh water but we do get to have a beach ten minutes from downtown D.C.. You know, the kinder gentler apocalypse where somehow we pull a last minute yoo-ee and don’t wreck the planet.

But this latest “parade of clippers” paired with a brisk course of Arctic palette cleansers gave us all a chance to embrace our inner Yetis.

People in other parts of the nation, not including those rarified climates of California, Florida or Seattle, regularly have to put up with the sort of winter smackdown that we’ve been enjoying for the past month, so I don’t expect the residents of, say, Michigan, have much sympathy with whining.

There will be no whining here. Instead, I strapped on my camera and set forth to capture the wonderfulness of the frigid landscape. Unfortunately, I’m not the intrepid shutterbug I once was, and failed to come up with anything remotely dramatic.

Bright berries light up the snowy Georgetown Waterfront Park.

Bright berries light up the snowy Georgetown Waterfront Park.

However, luckily, here in D.C. there is no shortage of crazy weather nuts who make the effort and share with us all the most breathtaking sunrise and sunset and storm photos. Several of these guys also write for the Washington Post’s Weather Gang column, and they post their stunning pix there. Check these out!

I may never learn to love the cold, but I’m a sucker for beautiful sunrises and sunsets. And this bone chilling weather seems to lend an extra dimension of dazzle to the scenery.

I appreciate the quiet beauty of the season of ice and fire. And as a gardener, I’ve also learned to respect the value of a reliable blanket of snow. Nothing hurts plants more than an unseasonal warm spell followed by the sudden return of normal cold. Robert Frost, who composed many poems about the seasons, described this particular peril most eloquently in a few lines of “Good-bye and Keep Cold.”

No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn’t get warm.
‘How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.’

We don’t have a lot of orchards here in the city, of course. But the principle is solid. Each year the people who bank on the Cherry Blossom Festival endure months of anxiety over whether or not a late frost or a turbo-charged spring will sabotage the blooms.

So maybe we’d best keep those earmuffs handy. And people who don’t like it can just chill.

1 comment to Apocalypse Wow

  • giuli

    Best sunrise and sunset are November thru early March.
    I work outside everyday,all day,year-round,and have been a keen observer of these events.
    I think that as we get more direct light thru Spring and Summer,we lose some of the
    reflected,angled light coming off the ocean and it is this,I believe,that plays wonderful
    effects with the low sky. Our normal light, that is mid-Atlantic/eastern seaboard light, isn’t
    that great most of the year,so the winter skies are usually,to me anyway,the best for
    drama and fun.