Full moon over frozen yard, Gorham, NH; Jupiter visible through branches, far left; Sirius at upper right.

We own a double lot, and the one on the right is mostly empty. After an unusually warm Christmas vacation (temperatures ranging from the upper 40s down to the 20s or so), winter has slithered in, cold and nasty.

We’ve had snow, then rain, then freezing rain. It may get down to -21°F Thursday night; whatever the windchill will be, I want to miss it, inside, asleep. Last night, I noticed that the light from the houses and the full moon was glimmering beautifully off the ice in the side yard.

I possess zero common sense, so I decided to leave my perfectly cozy, weatherproofed house and take a bunch of digital photographs, most or all of which I’d probably end up deleting. I knew I didn’t want my footsteps to foul the scene. I walked around out of frame, punching through the ice and sinking down into the snow as I lugged my camera and my tripod. My feet quickly went numb, then my hands, gloves be damned.

As I hunted for a decent spot to frame a photo, I had my fur-lined parka up, feeling like Kurt Russell in The Thing. Air temperature: 5°F. The wind was howling and pushing me around like I was a kite. I had to stand over my camera’s tripod to keep it from getting knocked over. The 20 second exposures felt like they took 20 years, the camera’s little progress light blinking and reflecting off the ice at my feet.

Meanwhile, the wind screamed through that bare tree in the distance and sent little shards from my footsteps skittering away from me across the ice. I love this place, but at times like that, I don’t know if humans are supposed to live here.


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