Last Friday, I drove to our new satellite clinic. This was the most distant one so far compared to our other outreach clinics, as it takes an hour and 40 minutes to get there from our main office. I go to an outreach clinic at least once a month.
It was a very cold day for a drive. The outside temperature was -2 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -20 degrees. The wind was brisk and it was blowing the snow that was already plowed to the sides of the road back into the road.
The whole surrounding was white as we had fresh snow that had fallen the past couple of days. There was also a shiny glaze on the branches of the bare trees as in addition to the snowfall, it was preceded by a freezing rain that coated everything with ice, including the roads, which layered underneath the snow. This made the travel more dangerous.
In fact one of my partners cancelled his trip to another one of our outreach clinics a day before mine, due to the snow, sleet and ice.
But on the day of my travel, though it was very cold, it was sunny. Thus I decided to press on. Besides, there were many patients that were waiting and expecting to be seen. Plus, I felt confident in my driving and in my trusty vehicle.
I felt warm though while I was cruising along the wintry rural highways of Iowa. My favorite feature of my car on a very cold day like this was the heated seats along with the reliable heater. In some countries, like in the Philippines, a car airconditioner may be a luxury to keep you cool on a hot day. But where I live now, we can survive without an AC but not without a heater. It is a necessity or we’ll freeze to death.
But there was something more that was keeping me warm besides the heater, the heated seat, and the heated steering wheel. It was the warm thoughts and happy memories of a tropical place I still call home.
Playing on my car radio was streaming music sync from my iPhone from an on-line radio station. What was the radio station I was listening to? Pagudpud Beach Resort Radio Station! (Pagudpud is a place in Ilocos Norte, Philippines with a year round temperature of 70 to 90ºF.)
I could almost hear the lapping waves as they break into the sandy shore and the rushing breeze bristling through the palm trees. A stark contrast from the view of a slew of ice and snow surrounding me. They say that you could take away the boy from the island, but could never take away the island from the boy.
It’s true, I was feeling homesick. It has been three years since I last visited my motherland. Perhaps it is time for a journey back to that very familiar place.
I know I’m not the only one missing home. Most of us, in one way or another, have wandered away and left our comfort zones in pursuit of a dream. And many times in our quest, the path we crossed was not easy, for it was uncertain and unfamiliar.
I was deep in this thought when a familiar song played on the radio:
Hindi kita iiwan sa paglalakbay,
Dito sa mundong walang katiyakan,
Di kita bibitiwan sa paglalakbay,
Sa mundo ng kawalan.
That was all I needed to hear, a reassurance that we are not alone in this journey.
I glanced at my car’s GPS. It indicated that I still have 70 miles to go, and an hour more before I reach my destination.
Well, I still have an hour to enjoy this “beach.”
(*lyrics from Hawak Kamay a song by Yeng Constantino)
Yesterday, while sitting in my car when I was parked at the hospital’s parking lot that I took this photo of my dashboard.
The outside temperature was -18ºF (-28ºC)! No wonder I was really cold. But at least it was sunny and it was already warming up. It was -26º F before the sun rose. The wind chill though made it feels like -40º F.
It was dangerously cold that most schools including colleges here in Iowa was closed yesterday. Even the postal service was shut down. Of course hospitals stayed open and I still had to go to work.
Do you know where else had -20º F yesterday? At the South Pole in Antarctica. North Pole was a balmy 5º F!
I should be on the look out for penguins that may be crossing my path anytime soon.
It’s been two months since I ran the half-marathon for this year. But I am proud to say that I have not yet relented on my running for this season. Emphasis on the “yet.” Maybe I just want to stay trim for Christmas. Maybe I want to look good on my vacation photos. Whatever the reason is, I am still running even if it’s already winter here in our part of the world.
But hopping on a treadmill and running for a mile or two in place is really boring. Even running inside an indoor track in our local Y can be dull and uninspiring. So when I saw that the temperature outside this morning was 30º F instead of our usual single digits or teens, I cannot resist to run outside. Besides, there was no snow on the ground and more importantly, no ice. I can run on snow, but not ice (see older post).
When I got out in our front yard, I saw ice! But it was just in our bird bath, which was frozen solid (photo above). The sun was shining though, so it’s a wonderful day to be outside.
As I approached the pond in our housing community, I again noticed that the water was frozen.
Should I try running on ice? Or perhaps put on a pair of ice skates and glide my way through?
Then I heard some honking. When I looked up I saw a flock of geese.
They seems to be egging me on – “Run on ice! Run on ice!”
The temperature however was not in the deep freeze. I am not that foolish yet. Again, emphasis on the yet. So no running on thin ice!
As I kept on trucking, I was looking for my deer friends, but they were nowhere to be found. Have they gone some place warmer?
Instead I saw some polar creatures. A penguin and a polar bear! You don’t believe me?
Here they are:
The pengunin and the polar bear seems to be lost in place without the snow. Perhaps like my son they were praying for snow. Lots and lots of it. But for me, I’ll enjoy this relatively warm day without the snow and ice.
Overall, it was a decent day for a morning run.
After about an hour outside, I came back in and warm myself with the leftover arroz caldo my wife cooked yesterday.
Again, I have my app to document my “cool running.”
Last time I posted about sun dogs (see earlier post this month), I just borrowed a photo taken by a friend, for I did not witnessed it personally.
Sun dogs are atmospheric phenomenon that consists of a pair of bright spots on either horizontal side of the sun. Most of the time it is part of a luminous ring around the sun known as a 22° halo. These beautiful glowing spots are created by the sunlight refracting off the plate-like ice crystals in the cirrus clouds.
Since it needs ice crystals in the clouds, sun dogs occur when it is harshly cold. My take on this is, even in unpleasant situations, beauty can exist. We just have to open our eyes for it. As in most life’s circumstances.
We are experiencing nice weather in Iowa this weekend, but last week our temperature was below zero Fahrenheit. To make up for the extreme cold, we were delighted with the appearance of sun dogs during one particularly frigid day. That time, I saw them with my own eyes and even able to capture photos of them.
Below are photos of the sun dogs that my wife and I took.
(*my wife and I traveled on separate errands that day, me – an hour and a half drive south, she – two hours north, so we were able to capture sun dogs in different times and locations)
The photo below was not taken in some galaxy far, far away, where there’s 3 visible suns in the horizon. This photo was taken by our friend, right here on planet Earth, somewhere in wintry Iowa.
The phenomenon seen on the photo is called sun dogs. No, I’m not talking about those 2 dogs playing in the snow. What I am referring to is those “mirage” sun images on the right and left side of the “real” sun. These glowing spots which are part of a halo around the sun, are created by the sunlight refracting off the hexagonal plate-like ice crystals in the cirrus clouds. The meteorological term for sun dog is parhelion (plural parhelia).
Explaining why sun dogs occur is probably easier, than knowing why it was named so. One explanation is that dog in English can be used as a verb meaning to follow or track. Since the mirage image follows the sun, thus the term. Another possibility according to one expert, is that the term may be from Norse mythology where archaic names from Scandinavian languages, like Danish: solhunde (sun dog), or Norwegian: solhund (sun dog), or Swedish: solvarg (sun wolf), pertains to the star constellation of two wolves hunting the sun and the moon.
I think calling those 2 dogs in the photo above, sun dogs, as they were enjoying the sunlight in this cold day, is perhaps much easier to understand.