Friday, January 8, 2010

When Icicles Hang by the Wall

When the weather gets really cold, some of the first phrases that come to my mind  are "milk comes frozen home in pail," and "greasy Joan doth keel the pot."  Some English Lit. teacher in my long ago past must have caused these particular words to take up (what seems to be permanent) residence in a deep recess of my brain, only to be called to the fore when the temperature drops below a given level.

No doubt about it, it is bitterly cold, but here in central Arkansas it's almost balmy compared to other parts of the nation and the world.  Where are my English/Welsh/Scot genes when I need them?  They kick in ferociously during the summer when I go into melt-down when it hits 80 degrees, but do they lift a (figurative) finger to assist me when it gets cold?  No!  I'm wearing enough layers of clothing inside the house to add another 10 pounds to my frame, and I bundle up like Nanook of the North when I venture into the yard to refill the bird feeders. 

Despite some precautions (not enough, as it turned out) to keep my water pipes from freezing, I had no hot water in bathroom, kitchen or laundry room until around noon today.   Why is it that hot water pipes will freeze before those carrying cold water?

Since I do not relish making my morning (or any other time) ablutions in water just above the freezing point, I shall face the prospect of having a higher water bill by leaving water running at more than just a drip, drip, drip tonight. There are other preventive measures I can take, also, and those will be done. Let's hope it works.

I leave you with these words (they had just as well be stuck in your brain as mine):
"When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;

When blood is nipt and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tuwhoo! Tuwhit! Tuwhoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw;

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tuwhoo! Tuwhit! Tuwhoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot."
---- Love's Labour's Lost, V, ii - Wm. Shakespeare


Snap said...

Love this post, Pat. We are complaining about the *cold* in Houston, too. There is a layer of ice in the fountain in the atrium. Silly me, thought I didn't have to worry about the plants there. Ah, well. We'll see in 3 or 4 days if there are any tropicals left! Stay warm. Add another layer!

Peter said...

I love the poem, it is a real evocation of winter, it is full of winter sounds and sights. (I can really see poor Marion's raw nose.) Hope you are free of coughs and your nose is not raw. Frozen pipes are a curse. There is probably a scientific reason for the hot pipes freezing first, probably a boffin some where will provide an explanation. I wonder if all the publicity about global warming was to hide the fact from us that another ice age is here! Brrrr, it looks like lots of the world is chilly at the moment. Lovely pictures of the UK white all over, and we keep being blasted by gusts of cold air from the South pole down here!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

It is 8 degrees right now here on the plateau at 9:45 p.m. GADS!!!!! It is still snowing a little... Supposed to be this way for one more day!!!!

Your icicles reminded me of the little ice storm we had on Mt. Nebo, AR last March when we were there. The entire cabin was surrounded by icicles. SO pretty!!!!!

Neat poem and great post, Pat.

Teacher's Pet said...

Wonderful poem....and interesting how one or two of them stick in our minds from the days of school, eh? :))
The photo is splendid....the essence of colllld!
Stay warm, my friend.
Smiles from Jackie

rhymeswithplague said...

At least your poem serves a purpose. The one stuck in my mind is "It was many and many a year ago/
In a kingdom by the sea/That a maiden there lived whom you may know/By the name of Anabelle Lee."

Totally useless on a frosty morning.

Now James Russell Lowell is another matter ("The frost is on the punkin' and the fodders in the shock...")

You stay warm and we'll try to do the same.

jinksy said...

That's one of my favourite poems too - nice to have it all laid out before me to read again this morning - warms the cockles of the heart! About the only thing that is warm, eh?! :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Lovely poem that really puts winter into perspective. However, I am just distracted trying to imagine why Joan is so greasy?? Doth keeling the pot do that to you?
Hope your water is running soon. So far, so good here though the cold is brutal. My only trips outside are for mail, walking dog, and feeding the ravenous birds.
Stay warm.

Abby said...

When I was in college (many moons ago) I heard one of the science profs conducted an experiment that demonstrated the hot water does indeed freeze faster than cold water. I'm guessing the spaces between the molecules in hot water allow them to crystalize faster. Hope you have hot water soon!

Anonymous said...

Isn't blogland wonderful? Pose a question and someone out there will know the answer. Thank Abby.

The poem is new to me but I too am wondering what makes Joan greasy [unwashed I would quess]

And my lord, here in the UK we are having the time of our lives-as you might have heard talking about the weather is a National occupation and we now have that topic EVERYWHERE.

Sherry Peyton said...

Oh so sorry you are suffering with the cold. We are on our last day...tomorrow going up to 12! But we are staying warm inside, and yes we have pounds of extra clothes on too! Blessings Pat.

Carolina said...

Hope you'll have warm water running again soon. Lots of snow in the Netherlands too. Global warming?

NitWit1 said...

I,ve heard hot water freezes before cold, too. Don't know why but may have to study that.

We finally have running water about 11 a.m. today. Yes, we'll do more than drip, drip, drip tonight.

Husband has just left for Mountain Home for new heat strip tapes, insulation, etc. Our heat strip tapes were 30 years old, plugged in, but probably dead.

As fate would have it there were more than one spots frozen, but not entire water service lines.

Only one line burst which was the line to outside spigots on the front and back house walls. Thankfully it has a shut-off valve. He just shut it off for the season.

We are planning some plumbing "renovations" this summer to put our system in code. Our system is a hodge podge of materials, galvanized pipe, plastic pipe, flexible lines. No doubt it met some code 40 years ago.

Love the Shakespearan verse!

But I'm thankful the water is now flowing, both hot and cold. I'm headed for a shower.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Well, you have won this English Instructor's heart forever!!!!! Shakespeare...sigh...simply beautiful!!! And your photo? Extraordinary!!! Together? Unbelievably wonderful!!! I AM sorry that you are having such trouble, and that it is so very, very cold...And I agree...better to leave the water running at a slight drip than to have to endure icy water for washing...Hope things thaw out in your area soon!!! Love to you, dear Pat!! ~Janine XO

Anonymous said...

Talked to my brother in Pensacola this morning, and it was not expected to be above freezing there today at all. We had our cold weather last week, so it was interesting to be warmer in Portland than in Pensacola.

Anybody who has ever preached during the winter months (like me) likely recalls hacking drowning "the Parson's saw." Or maybe it's more frustrating being in the congregation near one of the "hackers" (strange — haven't thought of that meaning of the word in a while).

Stay warm!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

LOL. I thought that was Shakespeare. I've always thought the phase greasy Joan was so evocative.

I love your icicle photo.

Hilary said...

Oh that's a wonderful photo. It sure captures the cold we're feeling here too.

My guess about hot water pipes freezing first is that they're less active than cold water pipes .. what with filling up kettles or coffee makers, flushing toilets and typically using cold even while running the hot water (showers, baths, laundry and hand-washings). Since the cold pipes are in more frequent use, they're less likely to begin the freezing process as soon as the less active hot water pipes. But that's just a guess. I really have no genuine clue. :)

Keep warm, Pat!

rhymeswithplague said...

I hope Arkansas has returned to "normal" -- whatever that is in January!

Our snow and ice is now completely gone.

TSannie said...

Stay warm my friend!

Suldog said...

I think we reach a certain age and our ancestral genes desert us. I never used to mind a bit of cold, but now anything below 45 gets me wondering about what it's like to live in Mexico this time of year.

rhymeswithplague said...

Pat, there is a question in my blogpost of January 16th that I need you to answer.

Peter said...

Hi Pat,
I have been wondering how you are for the last few days, and just hope you are well and are staying warm. We had sun for the first time in ages today it was such a nice surprise to see some blue sky up there as we have been living under a gray cloud for days and days (some times we get a sea fog here).

Best Wishes from Peter, Laura, and Ginger the cat xxx