Friday, 24 December 2010

KNIRSCHENDER SCHNEE


















Today is Christmas Eve, good folks, if you happen to have forgotten. I forced myself out of bed at 8 AM to start the day on a good swing. The reward was an uncluttered blanket of snow-covered ice sweeping Hammarby Sound, except where the ferries labour across already in early morning. This is the coldest Christmas Eve in my lifetime, if not for 100 years and more, in case you haven't noticed. Temperatures passed the minus thirties the night before last and this morning, when I took my usual hike along the sound after breadkfast, they certainly must have lingered below 20 Degrees (Celsius). Fortunately, the air was still and dry, so the exercise proved to be pure pleasure.

At temperatures as low as this, you get a lot of traction under your feet when walking, as well as a cosy sound well remembered from childhood. It is the sound of ice crystals being crunched, without melting, underfoot your busy shoes. This "swish-swish" you can't help noticing has different names in different tongues, all trying to replicate it in an accurate manner. In my mother-tongue it is called "Knirschen", and in Swedish "Knarra". In English, I don't think there is a good onomatopoeic word for it, but maybe "Crunching" or "Grating" would come close. In any case, this sound is childhood reborn, such a delight to hear for us old-timers!

I would like to take this occasion to wish you all, dear readers of my humble blog postings, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let's hope to find each other again on many happy occasions, on internet, as well as under more analogue circumstances!

To round this up on an international note, please take a look at this: Carillon music from my favorite institute of learning!

 http://www.berkeley.edu/holiday/

Thursday, 2 December 2010

ICY FOG KEEPING PEOPLE IN BED

















Can you see the ice covering Hammarby Sound? No? Neither can I! This morning at 10 AM the world was completely hidden by a shroud-like fog, dampening sound as well as sight. Looking out my window it felt like venturing, on a spaceship completely smothered by the milky void, far out into a surrealistic universe.

Of course, these strange conditions did not prevent me from my regular morning walk around the sound. This time the promenade felt like wading in a fog that only hesitantly gave way to let my shoes find save ground to tread on. My face was constantly bothered by small icy flakes and humid cold penetrated almost to the bones.

Whilst hastening my steps I pondered on the cause of such strange weather in early December. For some days now, unusually harsh cold air is hovering over Stockholm. Still, the air was clear until today and the sun shining, with barely a breeze disturbing the cool air. Last night, there must have been a breeze blowing towards us from the East. As brackish water farther out in shallow bays and sounds is freezing up, it is releasing humid warmth into the breeze above. This warmer air must have been met by freezing cold as the breeze approached the outer limits of the town, like Hammarby Sound. Towards the morning the breeze stopped and the air was getting completely still hereabouts. A myriad of icicle flakes must have formed in the air, kept suspended in this total stillness.

Just a few hours later, the sun managed to force its way through the shroud and conditions went back to normal. You do not believe that Hammarby Sound is already frozen? Well the picture below is proving it. It was taken yesterday at 8 AM. What a difference a day makes!