Friday, June 30, 2006

four-day-old hail

Very strangely, there is still hail in the hole Marty dug. I wanted to show Holly there might still be some, as there had been the day before, under the foot or so of treefall (the pine-needlish stuff of the Arizona cypress trees). I was surprised to find hailstones still there on Wednesday. There were still lots on Thursday. Mid-day Friday, I shoveled some stuff out hoping to find a few to show Holly, and found this large lump of them—stuck together, but still distinct and whole and round and hard. This is the coldest, iciest hail ever.

I sent this e-mail to a few friends and relatives yesterday:
It's kind of creepy like some journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth movie or something, but I went out to rake the treefall stuff out of Marty's hole and there is STILL HAIL. Lots of it. So I raked back what I had pulled aside.

That hail is nearly three days old.
Should I call investigative reporters from KOAT?

Or maybe it only illustrates why covering a block of ice in straw could help people keep dairy products and meat fresh-ish before refrigeration a couple of generations back.
After taking its picture, I put it back in the hole and replaced what I had pulled out to show Holly. I feel much better about 1930's ice boxes my parents and grandparents have told me about. I guess straw CAN keep ice from melting. Except that this hole isn't in direct sunlight, there's nothing maintaining that hail except tree crumbs and its original temperature. Temperatures have been in the 80s and 90s. It's creepy and fascinating to have hail, in summer, in Albuquerque, four days old. We hardly can keep snow in the winter for four days.


Angela S. said...

My bil is a wood worker in NH and he piles his sawdust behind his shop. One year when we went to visit on the 4th of July there was still snow under the pile of sawdust. I was amazed. It definitely made it easier to understand how the sawdust insulated the ice in ice houses in the past. My grandfather used to cut ice from the Kennebec River here in Maine to be sold the rest of the year for ice boxes in his early years. Just a neat connection that I shared with my kids.

Sandra Dodd said...

Knowledge like that is so easily lost! My parents knew, and my grandparents knew, but I grew up with a Fridgidaire, and crushed ice in plastic bags to put in coolers and that melts within a couple of days.

Hey! I just remembered that one time we DID dig a hole when we went camping and put some of the long-term food and ice in there. And once when we were cleaning up after a big SCA campout I found someone else's "in-ground" cooler. They had lined a hole with a big plastic bag and put meat and ice in it. By Tuesday afternoon when we went to do the final site cleanup it was gross. But IF they had put another bag in on top of it that was full of... sawdust, or pine needles or treefall or straw, maybe it would've lasted better!

Another traditional cooling method many younger people might not know about is to leave food in the stream (in cold-stream places, like in the mountains). Used to be, they tied things in a "gunny sack" (burlap bag) and tied the rope to a tree. But watermelons could be just wedged in among the rocks or in some little still part of the stream, and sometimes the beer and sodas were similarly "parked." Those burlap bags were everywhere when I was a kid, and now I have teens who've probably never seen one.

~DanaB~ said...

Okay, now THIS was WAY coolie! Thanks so much for posting about that hail! My hooligans and I read it and they promptly went to dig a hole and gather different 'toppings'! We'll see what happens!