Tag Archives: Ozarks in winter

Watching Rain Beating Down

Standing at the window looking out at a dark cloudy day with rain beating down and pouring out of the gutter can be dispiriting. At least it is raining more than the quarter and half inch rains of the last few months.

The wet weather creek along the yard is starting to flow. Usually it takes and inch and a half of rain to do this. It took nearly three this time which indicates the ground was dry.

rain beating down on the roof runs off the gutter
The Ozark midday is dark. Rain beating down obscures the far trees. The water pouring out of the gutter is a waterfall into the rain barrel below.

When the plants are dormant, dry soil isn’t as apparent as during the summer when the plants stand with leaves drooping, wilted to conserve moisture. But it is as damaging to the plants as roots still take up some water to keep their metabolism going.

Plants do have a metabolism. Their cells are alive and still digest sugars for energy to remain alive over the winter. This requires water.

The flow of water looks simple here. The rain falls on the hills and pastures. The extra runs down into the creek and away to the river.

rain beating down ends up in the creek
The storm has passed. The clouds are broken up. The Ozark creek ripples shine in the sun as the water flows down under the bare trees on its way to the river.

This picture is true and false. It is true of the rain. It is false as the ground water, even the surface water in the Ozarks does strange things.

The wet weather creek only appears dry. There is a spring up behind the yard flowing into a small pond. That water seeps down the wet weather creek under the surface gravel for some of its length before being stolen away by plants along it.

Over the south pasture is a seep. The flow is too small and temporary to be called a spring. It is enough to keep an area moister than the rest of the pasture supporting sedges and other moisture loving plants.

Three miles up the road the creek is usually dry. Only rain beating down on the hills makes the bed fill. Here the creek flows all year. Between here and there are several springs whose water feeds into the creek.

small Ozark spring
Some Ozark springs are impressive. This small one is simply a gap under one rock on top of another rock. Moss clings to the rocks. Fall leaves drift in. In freezing temperatures hoar frost coats the rocks. The spring produces enough water most of the time to fill a small pond favored by spotted salamanders for laying eggs in. Frogs move in. Duck weed covers the pond in the summer.

Some of the springs are large enough to have spring boxes around them. The two I know of are deep cement boxes. One is abandoned now. The other provides water to a house. Unlike when spring boxes were used for house water more commonly, the water is now filtered several times to remove contaminants.

Standing looking out on a dull cloudy day, one of a string of such days, watching the rain beating down can make a person wish for sunny weather. But that rain keeps the springs and creeks flowing.

See more pictures of my Ozark creek in “My Ozark Home.”

February Ice Storm

Perhaps it is just a coincidence. Most likely it has no relation at all. However a February ice storm came by.

In “The Carduan Chronicles” the space ship arrives in the middle of a February ice storm.

February ice storm coats everything
Ice coats this old log. It isn’t thick, but don’t step on it. Your foot will slide off possible making you fall. Such a coating was on the landing site for the Carduans. Thrill ride anyone?

This year’s February ice storm wasn’t much. It heralded a warm front coming in. About a quarter of an inch of freezing rain covered everything. During the day the ice melted and rain began.

In “The Carduan Chronicles” the ice storm drops a half inch of ice as a cold front moves in. The sun does come out and melt the ice off the trees. This is typical of such storms in the Ozarks. And that’s a very good thing.

That quarter of an inch of ice is treacherous. Any surface becomes slick. Walking is asking to fall and get hurt. Driving is not advisable from my house as the hills will be too slick for even four wheel drive to conquer.

February ice storm encases tree twigs and branches
Twigs and branches sport an ice coating. This coating is thin. When the coating is a quarter of an inch thick, sunlight will sparkle through it making the trees into crystal structures. The thin coating will try to do this, but melted too soon this time.

There are drivers who believe four wheel drive makes any winter road passable. Ice removes all friction between the road and the tires. Without friction, the vehicle slides no matter how many tires are trying to find traction. I would rather stay home than slide off the road and twenty or thirty feet down into the creek bed.

February ice storm creates frozen drops
An ice storm is freezing rain. It falls as very cold rain that freezes on everything. This milkweed pod has an ice coating with more dripping off as frozen drops. These can get fairly long as new drops add onto the frozen ones already there.

The grass stuck up through the ice and made walking possible. The goats do need milking, hay and water, ice or no ice. The chickens need food and water. And I want those eggs and milk.

A February ice storm can be destructive. The ice is heavy and can break off branches, bend small trees to the ground or snap them off and break electric lines. This little storm did little damage.

Instead the storm set the mood as I work my way slowly through the first rewrite of “The Carduan Chronicles.” In that the ice storm is followed by snow. There is snow in the forecast. I wonder.