Who uses it: Biologists and naturalists
What it means: the area above the soil and below the top of a snowpack
How you can use it: When snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or trudging through the snow.
The snow has an icy crust that I stomp through, but Dizzy sort of skates on. He doesn't seem to mind; his feet splay out wide, and his claws give him a little bit of traction. The book I'm reading explains that foxes and coyotes (and other types of dogs, including Dizzy) bound through the snow instinctively, in an effort to find small mammals' nests in the subnivian zone. I don't know what Dizzy would do if he found a chipmunk or a vole, or (God forbid) one of those poisonous shrews.
Yesterday, with six days to go, I made the decision that I would not be sending Christmas cards this year. I feel bad about it, but the season's gotten away from me. I have too much to do between now and Thursday, when I hit the road. I'd hoped to include another photo of Dizzy in the snow, and I haven't been able to take a good one; he comes toward me whenever I put the camera to my face, to see what I'm doing. So no Christmas cards from me this year, and I apologize.
It's an odd ritual, though nice. I'm always glad to get photographs of my friends' children, and I like hearing from people I never hear from at any other time of year. But the cards that are not signed, or signed with something perfunctory that gives me no news, seem pointless. I got an e-mail from someone a week or two ago, asking for my address -- so this person could mail me a Christmas card that had no note, just "seasons' greetings" and a signature. I guess I appreciate the gesture, but what a weird expenditure of time; I'd rather have had fifteen minutes spent on a substantive e-mail, and they could have saved the expense of postage.
This morning Anna and I are wrapping presents as a fundraiser for Literacy Volunteers at the Augusta Barnes & Noble. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by.