Lies, Damn Lies & Ice Disks

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics” is a cliché. For the record, Mark Twain attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, but the attribution is unverified and other plausible sources exist.

Pity the poor statistics: they aren’t lies, and they don’t lie, but like other facts they’re easy to manipulate. Compared to human memory, however, they’re rock-solid reliable. When someone tells me some particular summer was the driest ever, or the driest she can remember, I remember the summer it didn’t rain from June 1 to September 1 and the grass crunched under our feet — and I go looking for rainfall statistics to back me up.

November 18, 2015: first ice disk of the season.

November 18, 2015: first ice disk of the season.

Some people I know keep meticulous records of things like rainfall and temperature, the date of the last frost of spring and the first frost of fall. I am not one of those people. However, when I woke up one morning last week to the first ice disk of the season, I couldn’t help checking my ice disk file for the winter of 2014–2015.

Last November, I unmolded the season’s first ice disk on the 16th. The year before that it was the 13th, but I can’t tell you about the year before that because I didn’t get into ice disks until the middle of January.

All the same, I think I’m seeing some consistency here. I’ll go out on a limb and hypothesize that the first ice disk of the season generally arrives at my address in West Tisbury in the middle of November.

Snowy ice disk, November 13, 2013.

Snowy ice disk, November 13, 2013.

My photo for November 13, 2013, tells me that along with the ice disk we had a little snow. I had forgotten that.

This morning I donned longjohns for the first time this year. Now that the second ice disk of the season has arrived — and is still hanging in there at one in the afternoon — it’s clearly time to put flannel sheets on the bed and replace the screen insert in the storm door with its heavy winter version.

In 2014, it wasn’t till the very end of December that the cold hung around long enough for two ice disks to coexist. (Sunlight is tough on ice disks.) In 2013, however, I had a pair on the 21st of November. Not this year. I’m not ready to make any hypotheses about the average date of paired ice disks at this address. This morning, November 24, brought the second ice disk of the season, and if it lasts till tomorrow morning, I’ll be surprised.

November 24, 2015: second disk of the season.

November 24, 2015: second disk of the season.

November 21, 2013. I was getting a little artsy with the maple leaf.

November 21, 2013. I was getting a little artsy with the maple leaf.

I won’t put my winter lights up till the solstice — unless I get into serious procrastination mode, in case that’s as good an excuse as any to do it a little earlier — so by way of a preview here are some highlights from the winter of 2014–2015. I can’t help noticing that I was rhapsodizing about statistics around this time last year, on November 18 to be precise, so maybe this will turn out to be an annual thing.

20150129 night trio

Night trio, January 29, 2015.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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5 Responses to Lies, Damn Lies & Ice Disks

  1. The ice disks remind me of those small frosted glass pebbles with designs on them. I have one with a dragonfly on it and these remind me of it. Nature’s design is very interesting. In the first photo from 2015, it almost looks like a leaf design and in the second photo from 2013, it looks like a bird’s wings inside. They could be used for Rorschach tests–it’d be interesting to hear what people see in them 🙂 I love the picture with the lights shining through them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Green says:

    Interesting, I would have thought ice disks wouldn’t have appeared until December. I was thinking this fall was a mild one and never would have predicted a disk this month. Heck I haven’t even put my golf clubs away. I measure weather by that procedure. But there’s nothing like facts to get in the way of the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it was relatively mild. I didn’t get around to replacing the screen in my storm door till two days ago — the same day I finally put flannel sheets on my bed. And it was walking on that first ice-disk morning that the wind cut through my jeans in a way that said “Longjohn time!” That 21-degree night came out of nowhere.


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