One Man's Paradise

Adventures at -36° F

I know it’s cold when my nose hair freeze the moment I set foot outside my cabin. Walking on snow sounds like walking on Styrofoam.

Below -30 degrees the metal doorknob on the inside of the cabin tries to stick to my hand when touched. Another cabin is locked with key lock, so I have to punch 4 small pins with my bare fingers. This is painful and the skin turns quickly white.

My truck would not start, despite being plugged in and fully charged batteries…

March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb

English proverb

Today, all is forgotten. At 10 degrees life becomes agreeable, even those frozen batteries come back to life.

Stay warm.

Inside Out

Sunday Morning

The sun rises now at 8:30 in the morning, like me. I am not an early morning person, but 8:30 I can do. She rises now 14 degrees above the horizon and begins to charge my solar system, so I can use the lights inside, when it gets dark at about 18:00.

In between, I shovel snow, explore possible excursions into the back country, bake bread and make my favorite dishes, as long as I can find the right ingredients in my pantry.

“Sunday, the day for the language of leisure.”

Elfriede Jelinek

After last weeks storm has cleared, the skies are clear and the temperatures crisp.

Sunday mornings bring back color.

Life is good.

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise


“the comfort of reclusion, the poetry of hibernation”

Marcel Proust

I like the word hibernation. It implies that the whole nation is in a state of reduced activity due to low temperatures and reduced daylight. Off course there are exceptions, thinking of mushers, sled dogs, skiers, and snow shovelers…

Plants don’t hibernate, they are dormant. That’s what the textbooks say. I don’t like that word, as it implies they are sleeping. I don’t picture plants as sleeping.

Anyways, obviously I have too much time and not enough daylight on my hands. So, all I have are these burned spruce trees that are neither hibernating nor dormant. They are dead. Gone in a blink of an eye, what took tens of years to grow. The charred trunks will stand for a long time, before wind and decay will knock them over. Give it another 100 years and there may be a boreal forest as before. Only to repeat the cycle until…

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise

Into the Cold

Amazing journeys we can take these days. From the desert to the Arctic Circle within a few hours, give or take a couple of nights at airports that are open 24 hours a day. Not like the old explorer days, where an expedition began in a port, where you had time to adjust.

So it comes as a bit of a shock to be suddenly exposed to the gruel harshness of the arctic winter. It isn’t even that cold, just -30F, not even close to the -42F of last year. But I feel cold. Softened by the desert “winter”.

The sights however are amazing. Spruce trees covered with a thick coat of snow. How do they survive these months of darkness and howling winds? A miracle.

I was greeted by a starry sky and an active aurora borealis. Welcome, looking forward to seeing you a couple more times. Please come in your rarely seen red variety. I am ready to forgo sleep and spend a night outside to experience that.

We gain 6 minutes of daylight, every day. A few more months and life will be back in full swing. This change from frozen solid to exuberance is an annual wonder.

Wouldn’t want to miss it, numb fingers and cold feet included.

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise


Tipping points are so dangerous because if you pass them, the climate is out of humanity's control: if an ice sheet disintegrates and starts to slide into the ocean there's nothing we can do about that.

James Hansen

I am far away from the ocean, but the desert is also a great place to appreciate what difference a few degrees can make. On a clear day the temperature rises to a comfortable level and drops at night well below freezing. During that transition water puddles turn into fantastic ice features, only to melt away a few hours later. I can sit next to those puddles and watch and feel the transition, right in front of my eyes. It is obvious, every degree counts.

What will you do today that makes a difference?

Inside Out

Shake it off

There is a tree outside of our house still has leaves clinging to its branches. The leaves are dry and a dull brown, or bright orange in the right light. There have been winter advisories with high winds, freezing nights, rain and sunshine. Nothing has convinced the leaves to go on their final journey and return to the ground.

It’s a new year, 2023. I feel like this old tree. Can’t let go of the old. The new green is not there, yet.

I know.

“Hit the reset button. Whatever happened yesterday, forget about it. Get a new perspective. Today is a new day. Fresh start, begins now.”

Germany Kent

How is your start in the New Year?


Note to self

Winter Solstice

What I did know: Today’s solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It also is the first day of the astronomical winter.

What I did not know: The December solstice does not always fall on December 21. Therefore, winter does not always begin on December 21. On the December solstice, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky, no matter where on Earth you happen to be. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears on its lowest and shortest path across the southern sky. The low sun angle means you will cast your longest midday shadow of the year.

Happy solstice.

One Man's Paradise

Surf’s Up

A winter storm advisory was in effect this weekend. Luckily it did not come with tornadoes. However, warning signs had been posted along the main highway: “Stay at home if possible”. Well, for some of us the opposite applies. A winter storm often brings a good swell to the ocean and that means surf is up. 5 foot swells were predicted and the forecast did not disappoint. Water temperature: 42 F, air temperature: 6 F. Does that mean the photographer was colder than the surfers? Not sure. It seems daring to me to jump into the ocean before sunrise, wait for a good wave to form, ride for 30 seconds or less knowing that you will eat it at the end. Anyways, great fun to watch.