Field of Science

Damned cold day

It's a clear, sunny day and the air temperature has soared from 0 to 5, but that's on the Fahrenheit scale, so for the rest of the educated world our high temp today is -15 C. That's cold! It was a great weather sequence, starting Friday evening with freezing rain, so Saturday starts out ice-coated and it's one of those you can barely see it coatings of ice. TPP slipped down his own front steps, while being terribly careful because it was obviously slippery, and the newspaper was out there somewhere, but it was slippery-er than was imagined, and fortunately no physical damage was done beyond slightly spraining a thumb. Then riding in on a blast of Arctic air a layer of snow was deposited on the ice. Actually at this low a temperature, it's way less slippery now than 24 hrs ago.  Tonight may well be our coldest temperature of the calendar year, and the '16-'17 winter season; the temperature is expected to be 3 to 4 degrees below zero F (-20 C).  
Plant-wise this is close to the hardiness limits for a number of plants so come spring, TPP expects some die back.  For example, one species of beauty berry is less hardy than the other and Callicarpa  bodinieri may well die back to the ground level.  Last time it took it two years to recover and flower again (this year), so the clock will get turned back again.  TPP worries about his big leafed Asch magnolia, endemic to the Florida panhandle.  It survived 0 F last year without damage but 3 to 4 degrees colder pushes the  envelop a bit further, so to help out it was heavily mulched and the bit of snow will also help. The Sinocalycanthus is also a worry at these temperatures.  This is no where near how cold it could get here, and twice in the past 40 years the low temperature has hit -19 F.  The neighbors have a very tough mimosa tree, and it may well die back and come spring they'll just have to wait and see where it sprouts, and then prune back accordingly.  
Yesterday was spent in part making currant-cherry-berry jelly, outstanding taste and bright red. Currants tend to ripen when it's too busy to make jelly, but they are easily frozen and then wait patiently for our attention. These are from the 2015 season. 2016s are waiting. 
Today will be a soup-making day - parsnip, sausage, and lentil will be a good choice. 

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