What a delightful afternoon of skiing through my neighborhood. Thanks to the ten inches of snow we got in Olympia, I was able to step into my skis at my front door and schuss down the middle of the road, across main thoroughfares, on the sidewalks, and across playing fields and front yards. I never had to take my skis off to portage over pavement.
There were quite a few Nordic skiers out today as well as one Alpine skier (what a workout!), several snow-shoers, many sledders, one man cutting big square chunks of snow out of his front yard. I asked him if it was an igloo. No, he said. It's an addition. I'm putting in a half-bath.
My ski-tour brought me past several snowmen--each adhering to the time-honored form of two or three large balls of snow for the body, twigs for arms, and faces made out of whatever material is available. Thought the classic snowman features carrot nose, a "corn cob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal," I found some very creative variations on this theme.
|The SnowVegan: Eyes of broccoli, nose of carrot, mouth of cucumber.|
|This classic snowman would look foolish with a snow blower.|
|Deciduous leaves give this snowman's eyes an unusually human expression. |
|Tootsie rolls give this one a slightly demonic look. |
Speaking of sublime, let's talk about sublimation
. Our ten inches of snow will be gone soon, due to basic melting as our temperatures rise above freezing. In this scenario, water in its solid form (ice/snow) changes to its liquid form (liquid water) and soaks into the ground, trickles into streams, flows into our storm sewers. But some of the snow will not melt. When the temperature is below freezing, the snow may change from a solid directly into gas or vapor without first melting. This process is called sublimation.
What is happening at the molecular level is this: in its solid state, the H20 molecules are locked into specific positions that create a hexagonal-shaped crystal. While the "frozen" molecules are unable to move about freely, they do vibrate. In the case of sublimation, some ice molecules gain enough energy (usually from the sun) to break away from neighboring ice molecules and change directly into an invisible vapor molecule.