Saturday, January 8, 2011

More snow ...

8 January 2011 Sapporo

(10:30 AM, in my university office) There seems to be, finally, a lull in the snowfall – a lull that is lasting more than a half hour, and a calming of the wind. Over the last couple days, we have had many “sucker holes” – that is, brief intervals with patches of blue sky and even sunshine. Then, 10 minutes later, driving snow and 100 m visibility. I walked in to campus this morning during an episode like that, and it seems that it had snowed most of the night because there are drifts everywhere, and last night the wind howled over my thin roof. Today I wore long underwear tops and bottoms, slacks and warm top, wind pants and a parka; of course hat and gloves... and insulated snow boots. I was warm enough.

Oops – it’s snowing again (11 AM)

It’s not snowing, clouds thin (11:45 AM)

It stopped snowing, it didn’t start up again…. Till 8 AM next day [see below]

Hokkaido definitely reminds me of my childhood home in New England. Though it’s more rugged here, overall (Sapporo city itself is flat, though). Still, it has mixed hardwoods and conifers, and it has four seasons, including real winter snows, as I remember growing up in northern Connecticut.

So it’s not so surprising that a western-Massachusetts agriculturalist (William S. Clark) had a big/successful influence on Hokkaido in the late 19th century [see blog on Hokkaido University]. It’s too bad, though, that he didn’t have much influence on architecture because the building I live in appears to have no insulation… so that yesterday, for example, I returned to the flat and it was 6°C [that’s about 40°F] in the apartment, with the hallway walls outside the flat caked in ice, and snow filtering in through gaps in the sliding windows. I have gas-powered space heaters that can warm up a room fairly fast, but once they are off, wham! The big chill.

9 January 2011 Sapporo

(in my flat) I woke before 6 AM to a view of the morning star in a mostly clear sky. I watched the sky turn pink with sunrise, and the morning exercising of horses across the street. But NOW, at 8 AM, the air is once more thick with snow. It’s calm, though, unlike the strong winds we had during the recent storm. I am not sure it’s easy to predict the weather here, our being so close to the northern Sea of Japan, not to mention the Sea of Okhotsk and the northern Pacific… I suppose predicting snow is a good bet.

Yesterday my host Yuichiro Tanioka came back to my flat with me to help set up the modem for internet. All instructions in Japanese. It wasn’t too complicated, I might have figured it out, but it was reassuring to have help, and then we had green tea, red wine and sundry snacks I had picked up in the store – I recognized the peanuts anyway. We talked about sports quite a bit – baseball, of course, the Japanese favorite, and Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro being a national hero. Then we talked about football. Yuichiro went to LSU for a Masters degree [and yesterday they beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl] and University of Michigan for a Ph.D. [they lost their bowl badly…]. So he follows some western sports, including the New Orleans Saints. Tomorrow we plan to go skiing.

My flat is retaining a little more heat – “only” 8°C [about 46°F] when we came in last night, and again this morning when I got up. Either it’s a little warmer outside, or the snow on the roof is something of an insulator, or both.

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