Not through lack of trying

nighttime snow scene
The topic for the day is “snow,” at least, anywhere in public among North Carolina natives. I honestly can’t say if I’m overstating or understating the anxiety that’s been present; all I can say is, from a New Yorker’s standpoint, this barely counts as snow. The surfaces are too warm to retain it so the roads are only wet, maybe a tad slushy in places, and the surface air temperature is warm enough to make my evening’s pursuits mostly in vain. Yes, I was once again after snowflake photos.

As I’ve discovered before, what you really want is a nice standing flake against a dark background, which is hard enough to accomplish, but it also has to stay intact for at least a few moments, and the air temperature wasn’t helping at all. I cleared a couple of spots on the black grill cover on the back deck and watched for opportunities along the edges of the cleared area, where a stack of snow would provide a bit of insulation against melting, but wasn’t having a lot of luck.

snow crystals without too much form
It did not help that very few distinct flakes were even falling; it was mostly clumps, or flakes that had re-accumulated more moisture and thus were beaded with ice bumps. Which is a shame, because I discovered that leaving an old pop shield outside to get cold enough worked pretty damn well for catching snow without melting it – I just wasn’t getting flakes.

snowflake with additional moisture frozen onto the surface
[A pop shield, by the way, is a screen for microphones that are very sensitive to forced air, which can create a thumping sound. It is usually a layer or two of nylon that stops the puff of air, and being black, works well for a background.)

The snow stopped before the temperature had dropped enough to provide good, shapely flakes or simply keep the ones that fell from melting, so my efforts in that respect are done for the night at least, and very likely for the year. Below, about the best that I got, which isn’t going to win any awards (yeah, yeah, keep your snark to yourself.)

almost a distinctive snowflake
There hasn’t even been enough snow to make for great landscapes, as the top photo demonstrates – too thin, no real ‘blanketing.’ But I did do a follow-up image to one posted the other day, just for giggles. The neighboring gardenia bushes were about lying flat from the weight of the wet snow, and even the mantis egg case was warm enough to slushify the snow load upon it.

egg case ootheca of Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis with load of melting snow atop
This isn’t any concern; such cases weather much worse than this for longer periods. And while it might look like late afternoon sunlight, this was actually shot at night by the light of the headlamp. I’m at least hoping these eggs in particular provide some nice hatching shots, just for the blog continuity – the kind of thing you think about when you’re publicizing your photographic efforts. The roads may ice up later on as the temperature drops, and they’re damn slow about getting salt trucks out around here, yet I have nowhere to be tomorrow so it’s no skin off my nose. But as I close, I simply have to relate a conversation from earlier.

I’d been outside checking conditions and came in, warning The Girlfriend to be careful if she went out, because the snow atop the layers of wet leaves in places made them especially slippery, indicating that I’d already slipped and fallen once.

“Are you okay? You need to be careful,” she warned.

“I’m fine. I plopped on my ass. I’m not seventy-five, for pete’s sake.”

“No, but you’re over fifty,” she reminded me. As if I’d forgotten – you know how us old folks get.

“I still didn’t break my goddamn hip,” I snarked back.

Seriously. It’s bad enough hearing this from students that can’t even be bothered to proofread.