Monday, 4 January 2016

Life at 14 below zero

Not the coldest I've experienced (my record - a two-hour walk at -20C). Today, an hour and quarter walk at -14C, good for the constitution, and testing out kit.

Footwear - my so-called 'Biedronka boots' (actually bought u Deichmanna) performed perfectly as ever. Despite walking on ice, my feet felt no discomfort whatsoever. Lambswool lined leather ankle boots, as long as the laces are tightly fastened, these are excellent for whatever winter can throw at them - mud included.

Overcoat - my US Army M-65 Parka, now nearly five years old - is unbeatable. It's best features are the massive hood and its deep, wool-lined pockets. Bury your hands in the pockets and they're soon warm as toast. And the parka, being longer than the M-65 field jacket, keeps your upper thighs warm too. Under the parka, a cable-knit Aran sweater and regular office shirt - just three layers and no cold problems whatever! Headwear - a Timberland lumberjack hat; under this and the parka hood my head is totally insulated against the biting frost. My face - despite beard - feels the cold, however.

Regular Levi's jeans - no long-johns needed for this temperature as long as I'm walking all the time. Gloves - suede with knitted sides - thin enough to operate camera, between shots hands are deep in the parka pockets, so again no problem.

So - well kitted out, I step out into the cold. As I left the house at 15:20, it was actually snowing lightly from a cloudless sky (below)!

Once again, I made the Most of the opportunity offered by the ponds being solidly frozen over, walking from one end to the other. Below: between the ponds, a narrow isthmus, which is usually under water.

Below: today I took my 55mm f3.5 macro Nikkor lens, to get a sharper image of the frozen swan feathers on the ice.

The sun, low in the sky, hovers over the middle section of the pond nearest ul. Trombity.

Local skaters have been benefiting from the massive rink on their doorstep. Below: the lightest dusting of snow on the icy surface of the pond shows their traces.

The row of trees towards the end of ul. Trombity (below). In the foreground the new gabion installed after the middle pond was dredged this summer when water levels fell due to lack of rain.

Below: ice crystals on seeds and twigs on the frozen pond surface.

Below: another photo that would normally be impossible - deep in the wetland, the dead forest where the herons and marsh harriers perch.

I was impressed by both my cameras' battery stamina - despite the manuals saying that they should not be used when the temperature falls below -10C. They kept snapping reliably, the D3300 and the Coolpix A.

Having got home, I put on the sauna and spent 15 mins at 90C, followed by a few minutes on the balcony at -14C (in towel and sheepskin slipper), admiring the night time sky, and then another 15 minutes back in the sauna. On days like this, a priceless experience.

This time last year:
Scenarios for Russia

This time four years ago:
Light show at the Presidential Palace

This time six years ago:
About juice - and empty supermarket shelves

This time seven years ago:
That's what I call Winter Vol. 12

This time eight years ago:
When the days start getting a little longer...

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