Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Ballpark Calculation

For whatever reason, my mind turned to numbers the other day.

Melting the snow.
After successfully creating Dover's first (and probably only) snow mountain of the winter season, I wondered - just how much snow did I move to create this dog playheap? I scavenged around to find my trusty 2 yard stick and measured the terrace, which ended up being  21 feet long and 13 feet wide, for an area of 273 square feet. Then I melted down a one foot cube of snow and measured the water that formed; this gave me the figure that one square foot of this particular snow weighed 6 pounds. So, I moved  273 x 6 = 1,638 pounds of snow, more or less. I was disappointed I didn't make a ton, only eight tenths of a ton. In the process, I learned that the word "ton" comes from "tun," which referred to "the largest barrel."

Three dogs.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saint David, Leeks, Daffodils, and Dover

[Click on drawing for a larger picture. ]

March 1st commemorates Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. St David is associated with daffodils, which bloom near the anniversary of his death, and leeks, which we all should be eating on March 1. While I do not much care for leeks, daffodils are one of my favorite flowers, second only to daisies. Daffodils do have their dark side, however. The bulbs contain a toxin, licorine, which can cause gastric symptoms, perhaps convulsions, maybe even death. Apparently some primary school youngsters showed mild symptoms after a cooking class, where a daffodil bulb was mistakenly included in a soup being made with onions brought in from the children's home gardens. In addition, florists can acquire "florist's itch" from frequent handling of the bulbs; the toxin in this case is oxalic acid. 

Dover's name means water in Welsh, so Dover is eager to celebrate St. David by rejoicing in the six inches of mixed solid and liquid H2O in the form of ice, snow, sleet, and slush that we received overnight. His snow mountain, the first of the winter, is probably not long for this world, but he and his pals will make the most of it while it lasts. Hidden below the snow, below the mud underneath, and below the frozen ground still further underneath, are 100 daffodils I planted last fall, lying in wait to rise in glory and gladden our hearts. Even this most welcome of snow will, in a few weeks time, succumb to the steady advancing of springtime light and warmth.