Monday, January 26, 2009

From Waldo to The Moon

Wild Plants and Wooly Bears

My yard is pockmarked with craters both large and small, shades of the lunar surface. This phenomenon holds much interest and gives me an insight into how craters are formed on otherworldly surfaces.

The craters in my yard are, of course, formed in snow. Here’s what happened. The last snowstorm to hit covered pine trees with snow and it has been just too cold for it to melt. But a strong, gusty wind yesterday did what the sluggish thermometer wouldn’t. It blew snow from the pine branches and it landed on the ground in such a fashion as to make it resemble a crater field on Mars or the earth’s moon.

Craters happen in other mediums, too. Each raindrop, falling on soft or dusty ground, creates a crater. Every “plop” forms a depression. But these are so small that we usually don’t notice them. Sometimes, though, during extreme dry spells, a passing shower looses just enough water droplets to make fairly large craters on the hot, dusty ground. These, like the snow craters at my place, we notice.

I’m interested in learning what happens to the snow craters when warmer temperatures finally return and the snow begins to melt. I suspect that the craters will widen, but not necessarily deepen. But I’ll just have to wait and see. Such natural and commonplace occurrences as snow craters fascinate me to no end. It’s all part of just sitting back and observing nature.

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