Our bodies consist of two-thirds of this amazing substance. Long distance runners need to keep replenishing it for optimum performance. And 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with this liquid. The substance I am talking about is none other than H20, or plain old water. Interesting enough, only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water AND 2% of that is tied up in glaciers and polar ice caps.
As the temperature drops below freezing in the Canadian winter a fascinating transformation takes place. This liquid we call water becomes suspended into a solid form that we call ice. There are so many uses for this solid water that goes far beyond an ice cube in a drink.
A local city called Barrie had a winter-fest and ice festival last weekend. Always so amazing to see the artistic creations that can be sculptured out of a rock hard solid block of frozen water. I have so much admiration for the patience and skill that goes into making an ice sculpture. Unlike other sculptures made out of marble or granite, when the temperature rises for a period off time above freezing, these masterpieces will disappear.
One of the things winter enthusiasts look forward to is the freezing over of the lakes. This has been an unusually mild winter where I live, and the lakes nearby have taken much longer than normal to freeze. Despite having ice by the beginning of February, people were being warned to stay off. The recommendation is a minimum of 4 inches or 10 centimetres of new clear hard ice for a person to safely walk on it.
Once the ice does become thick enough ice fisherman auger holes through the ice, and drop a line down each hole. Snowmobilers enjoy the wide open spaces of a frozen lake for travelling. As the ice gets thick enough, you can even drive a car on the ice. As long as there is not too much snow, instead of driving around a lake to get somewhere, just drive across. The vehicles get on and off the lake at the boat ramps.
Further north in Canada the frozen lakes are essential to transport much needed supplies to isolated communities. The transport trucks will drive on what is known as ice roads. An excellent website named “Journey On The Ice Roads” mentions that a minimum ice thickness of 1 metre (or 41″-42″) is required to support the large semi trucks that transport fuel and supplies.
Besides transportation and ice fishing, solid water provides recreation opportunities. Skating is a wonderful winter pastime, and a great form of exercise. It can be done in indoor arenas, outdoor skating rinks, or when the ice is thick enough and safe on any frozen lake, river or pond. Whether it is Canada’s fast paced national sport of ice hockey, the dazzling spinning and jumping of figure skating or just lacing up for recreation and exercise, ice skating is very popular in Canada.
Probably the most “extreme” type of solid water sports is ice climbing. I had the opportunity to experience this for several days before I was married 34 years ago. Where I live in Central Ontario there are very limited opportunities that are within a day’s drive. I loved it when I did ice climb, and would still love to do it again.
As a runner who still tries to keep up some training in the Canadian winter, I try to choose my routes carefully and use extreme caution while running on snow and ice for fear of slipping and falling and causing injury. Conditions can change within minutes. On a sunny winter day, the sun will melt snow on black pavement. But if the sun goes behind some clouds, that water from the snowmelt will re-freeze into an almost invisible sheet of thin ice called “Black Ice”. It is extremely slippery.
Whether it is skating, running, ice climbing or even attending an ice festival, it is imperative that we dress for the conditions. Because our bodies are made up of two-thirds water, underdressed and/or exposed parts will freeze if exposed to the conditions long enough. The hazard comes not when we are participating in the brisk activity but when we stop. In the Canadian winter there are 2 temperatures we pay attention to before we venture outdoors. The 1st is the actual temperature and the 2nd is the wind chill (or what it feels like). If a person dresses for the actual temperature, but it is very windy that person could be cold and be at risk for frostbite and hypothermia.
I feel very fortunate to be able to be able to live in an area of the world where we have 4 distinct seasons. That solid water we call ice is an amazing substance, sometimes very beautiful, and sometimes very dangerous, but we make the most of it.
Always LOVE the international feel to blogging. How about yourself? How much exposure to ice have you had where you are? Thanks for reading! 🙂