Hopefully a map will appear above that shows nearly the entire USA was below normal yesterday (as was Europe.)  (The warm temperature in Georgia is from a malfunctioning thermometer.)

As usual, when it is cold in one part of the Earth, it is warm in another.  They are having an early spring heat wave in the Middle East.  (Not that those hot tempers need any encouragement.)

I’m the one who needs the encouragement. Fortunately another place temperatures are above normal is to our north, where the “blocking high” resides.  That high is what has brought the cold down over us.  The good fortune is that it has been so powerful that it has actually shunted the past two snowstorms south of us.  Our north winds have been relentless, however even when it is cloudy the March sunshine is also relentless, melting the snow on roads even on cloudy days, and between storms it smiles down in all its glory, wilting the snow even as the north winds blow.

All of a sudden I have gone from wondering if I’ll survive this winter to wondering if this is the last winter I’ll see.  After all, I’ve lived a wild life, and haven’t fussed much about caring for my physical body.  (My “artistic” side gets all the attention.)  As I’ve trudged about with a bad case of the sniffles this past week my mortality has filled me with self-pity, and, as those violins play in the background, ordinary things become old friends.  A vista I have looked at over a thousand times abruptly becomes a view I wonder if I’ll ever see again, and suddenly it is like I am seeing it for the first time.

“Live like you are dying.”

Rather than cursing the snow, I’m watching it as it starts to fade away with a sort of wistful wonder.  It almost seems a shame that winter went to all this work, creating these drifts, only to see it melt away.

“Almost,” I said, “almost.”


satsfc coughcough


I had convinced myself that wiping the noses of child after child had exposed me to all known germs, and built up my immune system to such a degree that I would remain healthy even while all those around me hacked and sniffled. I was wrong. I too am mortal, and I too can hack and sniffle.

In some ways this can be a good thing.  For example, I like to laze and lie about. Ordinarily this proves you are possessed by the deadly sin called, “Sloth,” but when you are ill, doctors claim lazing and laying about is, “Responsible Behavior.”

Unfortunately, the one time being irresponsible might make me responsible, I must be irresponsible, because when you run a business, and/or a farm, you have to show up, even if you are hacking and sniffling and you’d rather laze and lie about. In other words, by being responsible I am irresponsible, for I disobey the doctors.

I keep hoping that one of these days I might figure out how to be responsible, but for now all I can figure out is that responsibility is not something you can figure out when you are feverish.

In any case, by slugging down some Dayquil I managed three hours of non-hacking and non-sniffling, to get farm chores done and to open up our Childcare.  I wasn’t too worried about exposing anyone to germs, because everyone had been hacking and sniffling at me and upon me for around ten days, as this bug passed through town. By showing up for work drugged I was only doing what some hard-working parents do, when they drop off their child in a drugged state.

The drugs do wear off, and sometimes the child sags and wilts and the parent has to come trudging back to pick up their child. (Only the most devious turn off their cell-phones.) I wish I could build a sanitarium and hire a nurse, so parents could keep working, but I can’t afford that (yet.) I also wish my parents were alive, and when my drugs wore off they had to come trudging back to pick me up. Alas, at age sixty I must care for myself.

Considering the Dayquil starts to wear off three hours before you are allowed to take the next dose, it is lucky I am boss, and can go home for an early lunch, and conk out on the couch.

I slipped into an uneasy slumber, a restless rest, full of ideas I’m too weak to enact.  I dreamt up a hundred topics to post upon, on this blog, but was to feeble-minded to even post one.

Something or another was happening in Maryland.  A school board was so afraid of pedophiles that they had banned hugging children.  They even banned pushing a child on a swing, because that involved touching the rear of a child.  I wondered, in my half-awake state, how this would play out when a child had a dirty diaper. Would I be allowed to change it?  Or was the fear of pedophiles so great that the child would have to sit and stew in their juices until their parent was done work.

I jolted awake all sweaty, and thought I’d just had a bad dream, but then remembered it wasn’t a dream.  Turning on my computer and clicking to see the news on “Free Range Kids,” I again followed the link to a Maryland paper:

I wanted to write a reply, but my brain couldn’t even handle cooking myself lunch.

I did manage to put my clothes from the washing machine into the drier, but I knew there was something else I should be doing.  I went out to sit in the bright March sunshine, hoping I’d remember, but just as I sat down the sun dimmed.  Looking up I saw the sky getting ugly and angry, and then some stray flakes whizzed by in the cold wind.  Uttering a few rude words, I headed back to the computer to check the weather.

Vaguely my brains noted some stray atmospheric occluded impulse was reincarnating into an actual storm over the ocean, and I groaned.  The last thing I needed was more snow.  Running the snow blower over the Childcare parking lot even one more time seemed, to my exaggeration-prone mind, to be worse than just rolling over and dying..

And of course, these days, weather is not a safe subject.  Politics and religion are safer.  When you check up on the weather, you get dragged into Global Warming.  I saw six things to post about, but was too tired to lift a finger.  Anyway, I was oppressed by the sense there was something else I should be doing.

I glanced at the clock and saw it was time for my next dose of Dayquil, and also time to head back to work.  As I dosed myself I glanced into the bathroom mirror.  What a haggard mess!  I beat my hair back down to Einstein’s style, and combed my beard, and headed back to work.  It was as I was pulling into the farm I remembered what I had forgotten.

I’ve been boiling sap over a turkey-roaster propane gizmo, for the kids, and making sugar.  I had set two gallons of sap out, at the start of the day, well aware I needed to add more sap, (or shut the flame off,) after three hours.  But I’d forgotten.  It was six hours later.  I expected my kettle would hold a scorched, if not glowing, chunk of carbon.

Sometimes a strange mercy appears in my life, which I can take no credit for.  The propane tank had run out, just at the point when the sap was thick syrup.  Had it run even five minutes longer, the sap would have burned.

I looked up at the sky, and it didn’t seem so ugly.  I began to notice things were not as bad as I had been grumbling.  The storm that brewed up, and which gave places on Cape Cod nearly a foot of snow, never quite reached this far north.  Also my cold did not turn into pneumonia.  Also winter shows signs, (admittedly small,) of turning to spring.

Most people are quite good at ducking the blame, when things go wrong.  I think maybe they should also duck the credit, when things go right.

Who or what should get the credit?  That is up to you. Give credit to sheer coincidence, or to God.  However if I have learned one thing in sixty years, it is that our big, fat egos are more often stumbling blocks, and in the way, than they are helpful.

I could dwell on this, but such thought isn’t exactly coherent, or even wise, when you are sniffling and slightly feverish.




Just a quick note to state I do not approve to the way spring is starting.  It is calm dawn, and 4 degrees over the hill in Jaffrey, and 9 degrees here. (That is -17 and -13 Celsius.)

However it is likely a good thing I’m not in charge of the weather.  Not that it wouldn’t be fun, but I likely  couldn’t handle the complaints.  Then I’d get a bit over-active with the thunder bolts.



satsfc whoisincharge



This morning’s map shows yesterday’s storm ( a “secondary,”) moving off, as the “primary” low hangs back as an occlusion just north of the great lakes.  The orange, dashed lines, which stick out from that primary low, are various impulses rotating around the primary low.  Each has to be watched, although they possess neither fronts nor independent sources of arctic or tropical air, because each can mess up forecast, one way or another.  Sometimes they only bring a period of clouds to a sunny day, but they can be fed by the bright March sunshine’s puffing thermals and create unexpected heavy flurries, and occasionally they can regenerate into new storms if they rotate around over the ocean. So I’m watching them, and half expecting unexpectedly heavy flurries, today.

Yesterday had four separate periods of heavy snow.  I ran the snow blower over the drive and parking lot three separate times, each time hoping the snow was slacking off, as I’d glanced at the radar and saw an “edge” to the snow to our west.  Each time the secondary storm generated new areas of snow.

The first was before dawn, greeting me with seven inches in the predawn dark, as I clicked on the floodlight. (My wife and I slept at the childcare with my grandchildren to avoid any travel problems, in the morning.)  The snow had slacked off to only a light dust of tiny flakes.

When that was done I checked the radar, and saw the second mass of precipitation blooming to our west, and soon a glance out the window showed the flakes were growing larger and thicker.  Soon they were as big around as quarters, with a few absurd flakes the size of ping pong balls.  The snow built up to a foot deep, but then mixed with sleet and the depth of the snow actually shrank slightly.  We only had seven children, as most parents decided to stay home, as did our staff.

I allowed snowball fights, which usually are illegal, for the snow didn’t pack well, and the snowballs tended to be light and harmless, about as heavy as Styrofoam and as solid as a cream puff. 

I boiled maple sap until it was starting to get gooey, and we “sugared off,” pouring the hot sap on a tray of fresh, packed snow, where it hardens into a delicious candy.

After lunch the overcast seemed to be brightening, and the snow was getting light. Even with the clouds you can feel the spring sun’s power, and the streets absorb enough of the invisible rays to melt.  I figured the storm was over and cleaned up the drive and parking lot a second time, however just as I was finishing it began to snow heavily again.

The third burst just gave us enough snow, around three inches, to require a final run with the snow blower before dinner, however when I glanced at the radar before bed, I could see more squalls brewing up to our west.  This morning, as I glance out, I see a fresh inch has been added.

Now, as an American, I like to feel I’m a free man, and in charge of my own life.  However when I made my plans for this week I didn’t include so much snow blowing. It makes me contemplate all the things I don’t control.

Freedom is not the state of controlling God’s creation.  There are powers much greater than we are.  Freedom is more about how we respond to such powers, whether they are the weather, the government, or a fresh new generation of children.


satsfcOh No More Snow

(click map to enlarge.)

It is bitter cold in the dark before dawn.  Only 7 degrees. (-14 C)  It is due to the fact we still have a deep snow cover.  Not all that far away, in the Merrimac River valley, Nashua is a balmy 19 degrees.  (Their snow is gone, due to being on the rain side of the rain-snow line, a few times when we got all-snow, this past winter.)

It is starry out, but there are already heavy snow warnings.  By this evening it will be clouded over and grey, and by tomorrow morning the snow will be heavy.  The following morning is the first day of spring, but the world the sun will see as it peeps over the edge of our land will not look very spring-like.  The air arriving behind the storm will be bitter cold. 

The storm over the Dakotas will try to come east, however the “blocking pattern” means the cold arctic high over us will be tough to budge.  That low will only get as far as the western Great Lakes, before its energy is squeezed under the high, to a new low which will form along the coast.

What is troubling is that, as this storm departs, it will bring such a slug of cold weather over the nation that the next storm will also be snow.  That would be next weekend.  I hope is slides south of us, and clobbers Washington DC with snow when the calender says, “Spring.”  Those fellows sure don’t deserve cherry blossoms.

Oh well, I’d best hitch up my belt and get to work.  I don’t want to be a person who blames others while doing nothing. I’ve lots to do before the snow shuts things down. 



(click to enlarge)


            Years ago my car got old in Gallup, New Mexico, and I was stuck there, trying to get my act together in a place which was going through a local depression.  The Uranium mines had closed, the Navajo Jewelry boom had gone bust, the completion of Interstate 40 had basically bankrupted all the motels along old Route 66, and the local unemployment rate was soaring up over fifty percent.  It was not the best place to break down. 

            My car had such bad problems there was no way it could pass inspection, however I found out Gallup was also a good place to break down.  The Navajo didn’t think much of white man’s laws, and drove around without plates. The police were far too busy with more serious problems, (the chief of which was drunkenness,) to bother with me, so it turned out to be safe to drive an illegal car, as long as I stayed in that area. 

            I sort of got stuck there.  My car never did leave, and last I knew its faithful engine was running a small Navajo sawmill.  There was not much left of the body, even when I drove it, and towards the end I could see the highway pass beneath my feet, and on dirt roads dust billowed up inside.

            It was the worst of times and the best of times, a time of amazing extremes and opposites.  If God is kind, I’ll someday write a book about the wonderful, terrible time I had trying to escape, but staying stuck.  It was four years before I got out of there.  However tonight I only want to talk about the weather.  A nice safe topic, you would think, but even weather was weird in Gallup, with extremes and opposites.

            If you look at a map you see Gallup is as far south as the Carolinas, and you might think it would be warm.  It is.  Then you look at the altitude and see the bottom of the valley is higher than the top of Mount Washington, the highest point in New England, so then you think it must be cold.  It is.

            I knew all about the cold, for during the winter the tourists stopped coming and it was hardest to find work, and I slept in my tiny car a lot.  Above the small, squat city was a bank thermometer, which told me it was in the teens in March.  In cotton-picking March!  When I was as far south as Myrtle Beach!  To make matters worse, each dawn it was one degree colder, when it should have been getting warmer, because spring was coming.  I could muster a sense of humor when the bank thermometer said it was 19 (F) at dawn, but when it said 12 (F) seven days later I had a thing or two to say to the Trickster playing jokes on me.

            It is amazing how quickly it gets cold, in the high desert, when the sun goes down.  Because I was not eager to go to my Toyota bedroom, I found all sorts of places that stayed open late, where I could be an artist nibbling an eraser and scribbling in a notebook (and avoiding the cold.)  Bars are best, but you are not as welcome when you can’t buy anyone a drink, and also it is hard to write there. I preferred the local libraries.

            Gallup had extremes even in terms of libraries.  There were two.  The public library was downtown, and full of old, conservative books.  The college library was up the hill, and full of brand new, liberal books.  I wasn’t so welcome, up the hill, but was very welcome down town. 

            Because I was so cold, I poked about through books to find out how cold it could get, on the coldest day, in Gallup.  The book I looked at stated 39 below zero (F).  (Handy temperature, because it is also 39 below zero (C.))

            It is not a coincidence that so many places have that, or forty below, as their lowest temperature. That happens to be the temperature where the alcohol in the old-fashioned thermometers froze solid.

            It is amazing it can get so cold so far south, but a “Blue Norther” can make it happen.  Very cold air, sunk down low and in the lee of the Rocky Mountains, ducking behind jagged peaks and avoiding all Pacific warmth, can attack south from Montana all the way to Mexico. The invasion takes invasive species like English Sparrows and me by surprise.

            As soon as the southern sun came up I fled the cold to its rays.  In Gallup the sunny side of the street is much warmer.  It is dry and warms swiftly, as dirty desert snow doesn’t melt on the shady sides.  But even the sunny side is cold, when the sun first peeks over the hill.  One morning, as I hunched down the sunny side of the street, I noticed the English Sparrows were twittering and fluttering on the sidewalk.  When I paused to watch, I noticed a lot of them lay still. The “Blue Norther” had killed them.

            But not me.  After four years I had the good fortune to go back to my homeland, where I belong.

            However I remember the difference between the sunny side and the shaded side.  The Anasazi had a good reason to build their homes up on the sunny side of the cliffs, above where the “Blue Norther” pooled the coldest air, and up where the dawn first hit. 

            Even the plants knew.  On the sunny side of a canyon you would find prickly pear, while on the shady side you found incongruous spruce.

            Now that is all memories from my youth, a quarter century ago.  I am no longer an oddball white among Navajo, Zuni, Acoma, Hopi and Hispanics.  No one can tell me, “Yankee Go Home,” because I’m home.  I’m no longer visiting the Navajo Reservation; I’m on the Yankee Reservation, which is called New Hampshire.

            However there are some laws that apply in both places. As I collect maple sap, the spigot on the south side of the tree drips, but on the north side only a silent icicle hangs from the spigot.

            The south-facing sides of our hills only hold a few inches of snow, and there are a few bare spots, even as the north-facing slopes and pine-shaded places have nearly two feet of stubborn, crusty snow.

            I have had too much of winter.  I’m yearning for spring. I’m longing for spring.  I’m aching for spring.  However, what is the forecast?

            The above map shows an “Alberta Clipper” gave New York and Philadelphia snow, as we escaped with a dull day with a dim sun.  However that second low pressure area, hanging back to the west, will follow, and the computer models are suggesting we could wake to a foot of snow by Tuesday.

            A climate cycle runs around sixty years, and now that I’m sixty I’m starting to see weather that seems strangely familiar.  Back when I was just a child the AMO was warm, as it is now, and the PDO was cold, as it is now, and there was a lot more snow in March.

            Blast.  That is not what I want to hear, when I am aching for spring. What can I do?

            Seek the sunny sides. Stick to the sunny sides. And face the sun.




            With temperatures dipping to 9 degrees (F)  (-13 C),  Britain is facing its coldest March in many years.  The Global Warming some promised most definitely isn’t happening, but the increase in the cost of fuel is occurring.  In many ways the increase in fuel prices is caused by policies put in place to combat Global Warming that isn’t occurring.

A sad side effect of this policy is “energy poverty.”  People simply can’t afford to heat their homes. In the case of the elderly, who are most susceptible to ailments brought on by cold, the result can be death. There may be as many as 6000 “extra deaths” among the elderly in Britain this winter.

            Think of how much money the government is saving, by not having to pay those 6000 pensions.  Is that their plan?

If you add the 6000 elderly to the 24,000 who usually die in the dark days of winter, this winter may see more than 30,000 of Britain’s elders depart. This likely includes some of the last heroes who beat Hitler, when England stood alone.  It includes priceless wisdom, treasuries of information, libraries of knowledge, and likely some poor old fools who have worked hard their whole lives and simply deserve an armchair and a warm stove. 

The American president FDR once grew angry about the way the elderly were neglected.  He claimed it was a crime, and created Social Security in the United States as a way to make sure the elderly were treated better. However I think modern politicians have lost his vision. Some call our elderly “unproductive.”  They loot the funds set aside for them, and are stingey about handing out heating assistance.

It would not surprise me if such people did cruel calculations, when they heard 30,000 elders died.  They will roughly calculate savings of $10,000 per lost senior, and figure 30,000 times 10,000 makes 300 million dollars they don’t have to fork out, and can ruffle in their filthy fingers of greed.

Even the most primative tribes care for their elders.  What does that make us?  The answer is: Little more than beasts.

            See story at

If you want to hear someone, who is good with their facts and figures, point out the beast-like mentality of Global Warming Alarmists, and shatter their in-the-clouds delusion that they are “saving-the-planet,” I recommend the following essay by Willis Eschenbach:




            There was a flurry of excitement in Alarmist circles when a new paper came out which seemed to support Mann’s debunked idea, promoted in Al Gore’s film, which asserted recent temperatures are soaring upwards in an “unprecedented rise.”

            I glanced over the papers graphs, and quickly dismissed it as bogus, because it once again flattened out the Medieval Warm Period.  That is one thing I have actually studied a lot, due to my curiosity about Vikings.  Any attempt to “erase the Medieval Warm Period” flies in the face of so much study and so many papers that it makes the attempt absurd.  It is like trying to write a serious paper using the premise George Washington didn’t exist. 

            For anyone who has the time, I recommend the following paper about a single Viking site in Greenland.  It is impossible to read this paper without becoming aware how much warmer it was, in Greenland, a thousand years ago. For example, the paper states, “For the Vannaverfi district of the Eastern Settlement it is estimated 100,000 sheep and goats may have been pastured…” That land cannot support a single goat now, without imported hay.


            With a single sweep of a politically correct eraser, Mann’s hockey stick attempts to negate the hard work of countless historians, archeologists, and geologists who have studied the Medieval Warm period.  I find this attempt offensive and insulting, not only because it attempts to deny Truth, but also because it makes the research of some archeologists, historians and geologists become politically incorrect, and consequently makes it harder for them to receive funding.

            I don’t need to look at the math of the new paper to understand it is bogus, but some people are doing so, and seeing some signs odd things are occurring with the numbers.  If you are a math whiz, and like playing with numbers, I highly recommend the Climate Audit site.  One interesting thing they have discovered is that the graphs in the news-making paper differ significantly from the graphs in the author’s original thesis:




            In my unceasing efforts to become a cantankerous anachronism, I drive a beat up old pickup truck.  When Washington came up with the idiotic “Cash For Clunkers” idea, I proved I was a “Bitter Clinger,” because I clung to my clunker.

I tend to be one of those annoying old coots that drive too slowly on country roads. I drive slowly because I’m keeping an eye on Washington, and not on the road.

The “Cash For Clunkers” foolishness attempted to stimulate sales of GM cars, (GM stands for “Government Motors,”) and also “help the environment” by buying and destroying the old rust bucket vehicles poor people drive. As usual, it was a waste of tax dollars, a waste of perfectly good rust buckets, and was written by some Washington nitwit who imagined they cared for the poor, but had only the most theoretical idea of what poverty is like.  They actually hurt the poor by making the used vehicles the poor drive become scarce. Even the most naïve college freshman, with the most elementary awareness of supply-and-demand economics, knows that if you make vehicles scarce you will raise the price of even second-hand cars beyond what the poorest can pay.

Though I began life with a silver spoon in my mouth, I have proved to be very downwardly mobile, and do know what poverty is like.  It was not the script I had envisioned for myself, as a young man, however I think I’ve lived a relatively decent life, especially compared to fools in Washington.

Whenever I came to a fork in the road, and the choice seemed to be between the right thing and the rewarding thing, I would try to do the right thing. In the long term that leads to strength, however in the short term it can get you fired and lead to poverty. It can also lead you away from the silver spoons, and allows you to get to know the salt of the earth.

While the poor include drunkards and scoundrels who deserve to be poor, it also includes the hardest workers and the most decent people, who deserve better than Washington’s corrupt nonsense. Where Washington seems intent on controlling the so-called masses, the masses are actual people, who deserve freedom.

I have never made a car payment in my life.  I read Henry Thoreau when young, and liked his ideas about “economy.”  Rather than seeking freedom by earning more, I seek freedom by spending less.

Cars do increase people’s freedom, to a degree, but they also enslave people.  When you add up your car payment with what you spend on gas, add in the insurance and the cost of tires and repairs, it turns you are spending a good part of each week being a slave to a job in order to have the freedom of a car.

As a young writer, I could either work hard at my writing, and make zero, or work hard for others and make minimum wage. The simple economic reality I faced taught me a lot about using as little gas as possible, while driving (and sometimes sleeping in) the cheapest car I could find.

It didn’t keep me from wandering from coast to coast, however once I arrived in an area I tended to work close to where I lived, and, if possible, even to walk to work.  Rather than feeling “stuck” in the narrow confines of an area, I found I was getting to know my neighbors and neighborhood in a deeper way than those who hurry off at dawn to travel many miles.  Some hard working commuters don’t know their neighbors, even after years.

Also I found I got to know local people even better than tourists, who arrive in an area with the express purpose of getting to know the area. For example, some work fifty weeks a year, and then travel and lodge for two weeks in luxury in the American Southwest, and see the Painted Desert and Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, and perhaps visit a few Navajo tourist traps, and gain only the most superficial idea of what the area is like. For me, that was where my car broke down, and I quite accidentally got to know the Navajo better than tourists, and even anthropologists, because I had to work with them, live with them, eat with them, and drink with them.

For me the mileage on my odometer did not measure freedom.  While I greatly enjoy driving long distances on interstates, and watching the landscapes flow by, I find I can achieve the same state of mind while walking. (Or, back in the day, hitchhiking.)

I’ve talked with some people who say one of their favorite times of day is commuting to and from work, for neither their boss nor family are haranguing them, and I nod.  I know the feeling, but I have felt the same way while walking to work, and while walking unemployed, or even while just sitting with a notebook, nibbling the eraser of a pencil and watching a passing cloud.  Freedom, it turns out, is more of a state of mind than a set of circumstances.

However I chose circumstances involving driving clunkers, simply because car expenses of five hundred dollars a year meant I needed to work less and could write more. For the same reason I heated with wood, because I enjoyed cutting and splitting wood to a degree where it was no more “work” than going to “work-out” at a gym is, (and it definitely cost less.)  I knew of places where I could cut wood for free, and my heating expences of merely a hundred a year for my maul and chainsaw meant I needed to work less and could write more. Spending a hundred a week for fuel in January would have meant I had to work overtime.

This brings me up to today, when I’m sixty but still in good shape, and still splitting wood and chucking it into the back of my rust-bucket pick-up to burn at home. (I eventually figured I ought make some sort of plan for when I got too old and frail for the splitting I enjoy so much, so I had a modern propane heater put in the cellar last year, however hot air coming out of vents simply lacks the charm and radiance of a hot woodstove, so I remain stuck in my ways.) (I still wield my eight pound maul, and my propane bill remains low.)

The children at our Childcare are always clamoring for rides in my rust bucket, when they see me lurching across the pasture (before the snow falls) with a load of wood.  I saw no harm in giving them rides, for no harm ever befell me, from riding in the back of a pickup as a boy. However some parents saw danger, and once again my wife had to use her amazing charm and diplomatic skills, after her husband once again blithely offended customers.  Now I make sure to have permission slips before children clamber in the back, and I creep across the pasture at around three miles an hour.

There is not yet a law in New Hampshire outlawing riding in the back of pickup trucks on your own property, but it is against the law out on public roads. On trips outside of our uncivilized farm we use my wife’s more classy pick–up to drive the children. We make sure they are all belted and buckled in the appropriate booster seats, with the appropriate airbags turned off because, (like many ideas emanating from Washington,) the inflation of airbags when bumpers bumped tended to harm more children than they helped.

The kids prefer me, as a chauffer, to my wife, because I think commuting to kindergarten is dull, and I’m always looking for ways to liven the trip up.  After all, modern children are going to spend a chunk of their lives commuting, and if you don’t teach them how to make a dull journey joyous, their lives might be a drag. In fact, come to think of it, life itself is but one long commute from birth to death, and can become pretty dull if you don’t make an effort to jazz it up.  (However perhaps I’m getting too profound…. if so, please excuse me.)

Someday I’ll write a post about the many ways I make the trip more interesting, however for now I’ll just talk about potholes. Our roads are full of potholes, this time of year, but until the freezing and thawing and plowing is done with, it is an exercise in futility (and desperation) to send a member of the road crew out with a small dump truck and a load of “hot-pack” asphalt on the truck’s dropped tailgate.  I did see one lone fellow shoveling the black, smoking tar into the potholes on our road, during the brief warm spell earlier this week, but that was only because our road has become so amazingly cratered.

When there is no oncoming traffic many adopt a weaving way of driving.  It just makes sense to avoid as much spinal compression as possible.  It is no big deal, but when I am transporting the children I do make it a big deal.  I drive the same way I always do, but become very emotional about the potholes we avoid, shouting, “Look out!  Look out to the left! Swerve right!  Aurgh! Back to the left! Pothole alert! Alert to the right! To the left! A killer to the right!  To the left, no, no, back to the right! To the right, I say! To the right!”

It makes the dull drive more interesting, and the children don’t seem to mind one bit.

Also it keeps my wife’s truck in better shape than mine. My truck takes all the abuse, and has seen better days.  (It’s a 2001 Chevy S-10, which I got from my deceased stepmother, and she rolled it once.) (Also a tree fell on it, during a major ice-storm that knocked out power in these parts for ten days, four years ago.)

A couple of days ago I had it right down on its springs, loaded with sand to spread on the Childcare drive and to fill the ruts with, and I hit a pothole I couldn’t avoid, due to oncoming traffic.  The truck bottomed out with a horrible grunch and grinding, and I winced, but was in a hurry to spread sand before we opened, and didn’t check for damages. A little later I noticed the brakes seemed a bit soft, and winced again, figuring I’d damaged a brake line, but by then the ice was turning to slush, and I didn’t envision slithering around in ice-water under the rear end would be much fun, so I again procrastinated.  I figured I’d just drive slower, until I found the time, and a dry payment.

Driving slow is part of becoming a cantankerous anachronism.  When I was younger, and had places to go and things to do and people to meet, I drove fast and hated getting stuck behind an old coot on a country road.  Now that I’ve become an old coot I understand driving slowly, and it’s the young who seem senseless.

When you are old it occurs to you that you haven’t got much time left, and therefore you are in no hurry to see things pass.  It makes no sense that young people, who have so much more time, want it to pass faster.

Worst of all are the Yupfees. (Young Professional Females.)  Yupfees hate to get stuck behind me when I’m driving along, enjoying the beauty of the countryside.  One time I heard a blaring horn, and glanced in my rear view mirror to see a poor girl in an absolute rage, shaking her fist in the air and bouncing in her seat.  So of course I pulled over to let her pass, because it is only common courtesy to let the hurried and harried pass, and she sure did look harried.  Yupfees start out for work looking all groomed and gorgeous, but behind me they become disheveled fairly fast.  I gave her a friendly nod as she accelerated by, but only got a glare in return.

Therefore I was careful to look in my rearview mirror as I slowly headed for work yesterday, with my brakes softer than ever.  It was one of those frosty mornings when everyone is five minutes late and driving half-blind, due to thick white ice on the windshields which isn’t completely scraped off, due to hurry, but I could see through mine, and saw the expressions on all the Yupsfee’s faces when I came to a local intersection, hit the brakes, and nothing happened.  I sailed right through, with swerving Yupfees to the left of me, swerving Yupfees to the right of me, all abruptly having bad hair days.  Then I continued on.  No harm done.  But I did drive a bit faster, despite the bad brakes, because I was a bit nervous a Yupfee might come after me.

Arriving safely at work I crawled under the truck to have a look-see.  What a mess. A strut is snapped off, a shock dangles loose, the brake line is leaking, and I’m not sure there’s enough of the frame un-rusted to do any welding. It looked like that lone pothole completely totaled my truck.

Oh well. These things happen, when you drive clunkers.  Time for a new one, I suppose. But they are danged hard to find, thanks to “Cash For Clunkers.”


satsfc chills return


If you look back a couple days you will see how I pointed out the isobars to the east of a series of lows brought winds from Cuba all the way up to Labrador.  Now we are to the west of the same series of lows, and if you look at the above map you will see the wind is coming from frozen Hudson Bay all the way down to Florida.

Alas, for it was so nice to feel a bit of the south, and watch the snow wilt.  The March sunshine was a glory all day, and filled me with a dimly remembered fury of hope,  which, (because I’m old and know better than expect Spring this early,) I kept under control.  However a few foolish birds have come north way too early, and are looking about our arctic landscape with quizzical expressions.

My wife and I were walking out by the flood control reservoir when we heard the trill of a male blackbird.  Last year, on this date, the ice had all melted and the landscape was brown and snowless, and it made perfect sense to have blackbirds back and checking out the brown cattail rushes at the edge of the water.  However this year the water is frozen, and the world is white, and, though it may have been my imagination, I thought the blackbird’s trill ended with an incredulous question mark.

In this brilliant landscape it is the crows that rule the roost.  This time of year they gang about calling, “Thaw! Thaw!”  However I abruptly heard them more strident, calling, “Caw! Caw!”  They had spotted a threat, and as they came nearer I told the children at the Childcare to be alert and watch the distance for a loping coyote or skulking fox, but then saw the crows all cluster around a pine, and not look down.

The children got tired of waiting, and drifted away, and the crows apparently felt the same, and swooped away low, black and glinting sunlight against the white snow.  As soon as they were gone a silver hawk dipped down from the pine and stroked northwards on swift wings between the trees. 

I was surprised.  Just as it seems too early for the March sun and the blackbird, it seems too early for the hawks to come north. They should not be returning, when the wind is returning to the north.

The brilliant day sunk to a clear twilight, with a sinking thumbnail moon, and as I looked at the moon I abruptly remembered the comet, and hurried to get my binoculars.  However, even when dark returned, and cold returned, I could see no sign of the comet’s return.

Unless, just above the thumbnail moon, I saw a black not quite so black…However by then the image was starting to jump about, due to shivers, because the cold was penetrating.

 And, if you look at the above map, you will see the cold would get colder.  The secondary cold front hadn’t even brought the arctic down to us yet.  What was returning was not the spring, but the winter.

 Of course, this is to be expected in New Hampshire, in March. One could even raise an index finger, and make a pronouncement in regal tones:  “He who expects spring before the Ides of March will be a fool before the first of April.”