Antarctic Icicles, Snow Hill Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica


(I’m in the mood to rave, and to completely avoid thinking about insurance or insurance agents.)

As a weather nerd, I scan various weather sites, and therefore am acquainted with the chorus of madmen who like cold and snowstorms. (I only endure their company because I used to be one myself, back before the Wizard gave me my brains.)

You ought to hear the ruckus those nerds are now making, wailing and rending their garments and gnashing their teeth, about some thaw south of here.

All I can say is, a thaw sure sounds nice. We dropped below freezing back on January 20, and despite various promises of warm-ups on long-range forecasts, nothing ever thaws. The COLD is getting OLD. I wish I could export it to the weather geeks who want it so badly.

I had a crafty ancestor who did export the cold. He was a great-great-great-uncle, or some such thing, and he owned a schooner, and traded New England ice for Jamaican rum.

Sounds fair to me. But also suspiciously like a bit of a scam.

Apparently he had people out on our frozen lakes in the dead of winter with saws, cutting ice from those lakes, packing it in sawdust, loading it onto his schooner, and helping him to sail it south.

The first part sounds like darn, hard work to me, but the second part sounds OK. I’d like to be delivering ice in Jamaica, right now. I’m just not sure I could be trusted to sail back with a schooner full of rum. My steering might get a bit erratic around Cape Hatteras.

The amazing thing is that there was no scam. They got ice for their rum, and we got rum for our ice, and everyone had rum and ice, and was happy. No one felt gypped.

No such luck today. I wanted a thaw, and the weather nerds south of here wanted cold and snowstorms. Whereas I am a man about being disappointed, those nerds are having tantrums. They are have such a fits, about things that they can’t change, that they remind me of schoolmarms.

(I know exactly what schoolmarms would say, because I have an invisible one living just behind my left shoulder, in the back of my mind.)

Looking at this writing, that schoolmarm has already objected to the use of the word “gypped.” Apparently using that word offends gypsies, who are not from Egypt and prefer to be called “Roma,” (though they don’t seem to be from Rome or Romania, and Romanians aren’t Romans either, unless the Italians living in Rome are actually all Visigoths, who originally came from Romania, but enough of history…)

(I would ask that invisible schoolmarm sitting on my shoulder if she would prefer that, rather than my saying, “I got gypped,” I said, “I got Roma-ed,” but that would get me in such incredible trouble I don’t want to think about it, so I won’t go there.)

I should steer clear of slang, and simply say people didn’t get the weather they wanted. (That may be the schoolmarm’s problem, as well.) However I like the down-to-earth nature of slang, especially because it allows you to say stuff which political correctness keeps you from saying.

For example, take the word “scam.” According to schoolmarms it never appeared until 1964, (when it first poked up its head in a “slang dictionary,”) but in truth “scam” likely comes from Viking roots, and roughly means, “to behead, or chop the top off.” When a schoolmarm quietly skims the cream off milk in her kitchen, she likely doesn’t want to know her word “skim” has any connection to beheading like a crazed Viking berserker, but it does, just as when she peacefully stirs her cream into coffee, the word “stir” has a connection to the word “storm.”

Which neatly, cleverly and adroitly brings me back to the subject of storms, and the weather, and geeks down south getting all disappointed because they haven’t had a snowstorm.

Why desire winter? Too much winter is like being in stir. (“Jail,” for you schoolmarms who don’t use slang.) It makes you crazy, and I can only suppose those weather nerds down south of here have had too much sanity, for them to want winter, and to desire to be driven nuts. However up here in New Hampshire we have had enough winter.

The old timers of these parts had a local joke, spoken around this time of year, which I haven’t heard in two decades. For what it is worth, they would, when walking into a market or the post office, casually say (in the manner people now say, “how are you?”) “Have you surrendered yet?”

Most people would smile and nod, because they knew they had surrendered and become slovenly. Too much winter made everyone look like they were having a bad-hair-day.

The only people who look worse than those who have surrendered are the people who try to escape the insanity and cabin-fever, by spending a week or two in Florida. After a spell of nasty cold the local folk somehow acclimatize, so that when it “warms” to the upper twenties (F) they practically wear T-shirts and walk smiling with spring coats unbuttoned, but the fellow fresh back from Florida hasn’t acclimatized and hunches shuddering down the same street wearing three overcoats and thick mittens and a Russian hat of fur, two feet tall.

In conclusion, winter is not good for humans. Darwin said we are related to monkeys, and that means we ought be on a tropical island or in a jungle. How the heck did we wind up here, amidst all this ice?

Deep down we yearn for warmth, and therefore, when the National Weather Bureau tantalized us with promises of warming, we monkeys can’t help fall for the scam, but we sure do feel gypped when warming doesn’t occur.

There should be a name for the little lows which form on warm fronts and then zip out to sea, pulling the warm front backwards behind them like a person closing a door.

The little low which formed on the our most recent advancing warm front gave us nearly two inches of snow, and then its cold-air-backwash managed to drop temperatures to 17 (F) this morning. (Heck of a way to run a “warm up.”)

Two inches of snow is not enough to ignore, but barely enough to bother with. In fact you can use such snows to determine whether or not your neighbor has “surrendered” or not.

In December everyone will be out and shoveling two inches, with their snow banks at crisp 90 degree angles, but by March everyone’s exhausted and ignores two inches as a dratted nuisance, and slurs like a drunk, “The sun’ll melt the darn stuff soon ‘nuff.” However at this midpoint in the winter some are still fighting, and some have surrendered.

I am proud to announce I am still fighting. I cranked up the snowblower and ran behind it in 6th gear, blowing the paltry two inches from the drive in pitch predawn dark, and even altered the scraper blade to ground level, (a level which would have scooped up cobbles and shot them through windows and concussed neighbors, if I used it on the gravel drive,) and then scoured the middle of the pond into a smooth skating rink for our Childcare.

Then I stood back and smugly waited for the thaw to turn that pond into a sleek sheen of melt water, which would then refreeze to perfect skating.

But what has happened? It never got above freezing here today, and now sleet is mixing with freezing rain, and there is a “Winter Weather Advisory.”

The warming? Manyana. Manyana. Manyana.

With the last frigid arctic high refusing to make way for the advancing warmth, and the next frigid arctic high charging in behind the advancing warmth, I’m a bit afraid the cold behind will catch up to the cold ahead, and the warmth will pass us by uplifted several thousand feet, as what is called an “occlusion.” That is great for the observers 6000 feet up, atop Mount Washington, but it is rough on us poor, shivering mortals down here on lower earth.

However the weather bureau also has a “high wind watch” for tomorrow, as apparently all the warmth they have been promising is getting squeezed into a squirt, and will howl by at top speed as southerly gales, before vanishing with a clap and a boom. (They also forecast thunder.)

Me? I’m feeling gypped and suspect a scam, but, as a writer, still respect weathermen, for I know how hard it is to deal in clouds.

To conclude, I’ll conclude something boring, which happens to be the basis of all sound science:

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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