St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Frost on the windows

A frost pattern on a north window of the Farm House.  I under-exposed it and used closeup mode.  I took many many photos to get a few I liked. 

Growing up in the old farm house with single paned windows and leaky storms, we huddled around the stove and later the wood furnace registers.  Of course, in those days we wore wool underwear and wool socks all winter, inside the house, in the school, the barn, as well as outside, so a house with cold edges was not particularly burdensome. 

We prefered union-suits as they didn't slide down and seemed warmer.  At the outhouse, our prefered underwear had a pull open overlapping rear slit, rather than the trapdoor others preferred.   Trapdoors took more work to re-button in those pre-velcro days.  Using an outhouse at -20 wonderfully concentrated the attention and got a guy to tend to his business efficiently without the usual study of Sears and Roebuck.  We used the full catalog, but moaned a little when only glossy colored pages were left.    

 The front did button, but a kid usually could dye the snow without undoing the buttons.  A weekly change at Saturday night bath time was considered quite civilized.  Coming in wet from sliding having a dry replacement helped, so we never went into the winter without two pairs.  

One of the fascinations of living in a house abounding with microclimates, was Jack Frost painting our windows.  The windows to the south were the best.  A sunny day with a lot of wood in the furnace melted them clear, and each cold night gave a brand new pattern.   
The evening sun on a spruce trunk, looking north.  The window is a little dirty, and on the inside is one of those Menard plastic storm window kits that is supposed to keep it frost free. 
The patterns were amazing!  Feathers, forests, fields of wheat, whole scenes could appear one morning and be replaced the next morning.  

As winter progressed, many windows thickened their inside frost to a layer of ice, deep enough we could warm a penny in hot water on the stove and melt it in and freeze it deep into the icy coating.  To see out, our hot breaths blown until we felt dizzy could melt a peep hole into the world.   

Out in the barn, where the humidity was greater from the massive cows breathing all night, the windows built up deep layers of snowy frost.  Between hauling milk to the cans, feeding hay or silage, or helping clean the barn, we might go to a window and take the curry comb and scrape off an inch of snow--making our own snowstorm right in the barn.  

In the backseat of the car, if we got dibs on a window seat, in those days of weak heaters, and 6 of us filling the air with humidity, the only way to look out was to melt a hole, again with breath or bare fingers.  Clean a spot and keep huffing on it and you could see out.  Turn and pester your brother a little, and it was gone.  

The 33 Chev had special stick on thin glass patches for the windshield to let you look out even when the defroster couldn't help.  I think they were like a mini-storm window.  I wished I had one on my back window too--but of course, never asked for a frill like that when the store bill needed to be paid.   

Jack Frost painted the windows, Santa brought Christmas toys, the tooth fairy a nickle for a tooth, the Sandman put us to sleep, and God watched everything bad we did and wrote it down (maybe he and Santa shared lists?).  The Boogey Man slept under the bed.
The camera in auto mode.  I went to manual and tried variations of focus and exposure to get the first 3 photos, and then cropped out the flat areas.  I think if I put a very small aperture, I might get close and far focus.   Hopefully winter will hang on long enough that I get the hang of these frost photos!