That first heavy snowfall of the season here in Illinois has passed. It was exceedingly beautiful, the trees covered in snow for a couple days, but with warmer temps, it has all but disappeared. Thanksgiving Day is expected to bring an inch of rain, so will be transformed to a muddier mess than it is now!
But it was spectacular! After the snow the skies cleared and the contrast between the snow and blue skies was breathtaking. Visiting our niece Kathy who is living at "Ketelsen East", it was almost enough to make us volunteer to take her beagle Jethro on his walks just to step outside! Cold temperatures kept the snow hanging off the branches and eaves of the roof for a couple days, and a walk down to the Fox River was just striking!
I didn't see a lot of the normal deer tracks this trip, mostly our own as we took Jethro on his obligatory loop to check out the smells as he did his doody duty. Beagles are supposed to have about the best olfactory senses, and I can believe it after watching him sniff out every gap in the snow for the stories it told. But the only wildlife tracks I saw were the bird tracks at left, and the usual rabbit tracks. It hadn't been cold long enough to get any ice on the Fox - just the barest hint of some forming at the bank - at right is the start of an ice cover, but I can't tell if it is forming from the edge, or if some of the crystals were drifting downstream and accumulating at shoreline.
On one of the snow banks, I was trying to catch the sun glinting off the individual snowflake crystals. I know a little bit about exposing for snow - you are supposed to overexpose a little or your snow will look dull. Watching the histogram on the camera, I make sure not to saturate (overexpose) it though. Normally you get something like the left exposure, lots of brilliant white, with the glints sort of lost in all the white. However, if you raise the black point of the image so that all ranges from black to white are stretched out (effectively an "auto-contrast), you get the image at right. It is the same exposure, just treated slightly differently. Now the subtle shadows, the "darkest" part of the frame are now represented as black. An interesting representation of the brilliant snow, but showing much more detail, even though the snow isn't really as dirty as shown here!
The last time we were here the first week of August, they were just starting work on a new water tower up the road about a half mile. I didn't have a clue how far they would get in nearly 4 months, but it looks like it is nearly finished! There really isn't a place to pull off and examine the site closely, but it looks as though the pieces are formed elsewhere and welded in place. It is neat seeing the center jib crane and safety rail near the top where the team is working. There was quite the spaghetti strings of welding lines reaching up the south side, and since they are working at the very top, I could see the glint of the welder only at a great distance. It is looking like they will be finishing the exterior in a couple days, but it is cool to see with the welding seams unpainted and realize how it has gone together.
The weather has gone from clear to overcast a dozen times it seems the last few days, but generally we've been having a little warmer weather. Though gone today, the last few days we've had some nice icicles form off our porch. Now that I see the image at left, it would have been nice to see a closer view of the right icicles - it seems as if they are starting to show internal structure or refraction from the distant trees. But they're all gone today. Yesterday we had some clear afternoon weather and had an "Arizona-worthy" sunset, shown here at right. It would have been nice to go do a little more astronomy, or at least constellation-gazing, but has been rough with the full moon. The rest of the week sounds cloudy/rainy, so will have to concentrate on friends, family and a holiday stuffing! Have a great Thanksgiving wherever you are!
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