Yesterday I finished the clean-up after the storm over at our farm-childcare, with the help of my two sons, who made short work of the brown piles of frozen slush, roughly two feet tall and four feet wide, that the town plows had shoved into the three entrances to the place. It would have taken me hours, with a lot of time spent leaning on my shovel, but they work with the speed of youth, if only you can get them started. The only way I can beat them, in terms of work, is when I plod along like a turtle as they loaf like the hare.
It remained astonishingly calm, for just after a storm, and the trees remained loaded with snow except for their very tops, which were brushed clean by slight gusts of wandering breezes. The sun was so bright and the snow so bright that the evergreens looked strangely black. It could have been a black and white photo, were the sky not so deeply blue.
I should have noticed how calm it was, and should have noted the depth of the fresh snow-cover, and expected the temperatures to plunge, but it is only November, and I didn’t expect January’s temperatures. The weather bureau blew the forecast of low temperatures big time, stating it would get down to the teens, when it got down to 4 (-16 Celsius) by daybreak this morning.
In January I’d be better prepared. I might even have a coal fire going in the small stove in the room where I now type. I certainly would have a second wood stove burning, and perhaps even the third one going in the cellar, to warm the floors. However, because it is only November, I only had the primary stove going in the kitchen-slash-dining-room area. My youngest son and younger daughter were busily doing homework, he for college and she to pass some test she needs to get a job, and I got an inkling it was getting darn cold when they gravitated closer and closer to that primary stove. Then the propane furnace kicked on, despite the fact we’ve got it set at fifty degrees to save money, and it sunk into my thick skull it was getting very cold.
Because it was too late and too dark to do much about it, I looked up the record temperatures for this area. The nearest I could find was Concord, New Hampshire, in the Merrimack River valley to our northeast. Their record high was 80 (+27 Celsius) on November 2, 1876 [So much for Global Warming,] and their record low was a year earlier, on November 30, 1875, and was -17 (-27 Celsius). [So much for Global Cooling.]
This should give any reader from Old England an idea of the extremes in temperature we bumpkins in New England face. Just in the month of November we can face a range of temperatures coastal areas of England don’t face in a decade. It also should show you why the Pilgrims nearly were exterminated by the cold, their first winter, especially when you consider the fact they initially planned to land down south in Virginia. Something like half of them died, which is why they were so thankful their first Thanksgiving, and invited Native Americans to their feast, as without the help of Squanto, (who had been to England and spoke English,) rather than turkey their goose would have been cooked.
Some people, who are neither English nor Native American, like to make a fight out of that feast, however when I trace my family tree back to 1620 it involves something like 4000 great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, eight of whom were at that feast. Likely a larger number were Indians who didn’t attend, as the tree contains a great-great-grandmother named “Miss Eagle,” who was likely Abenaki, and, because she was likely born in the early 1800’s, likely was the product of several hundred Abenaki’s who were alive in 1620. Not one of the Abenaki tribe was invited to the first Thanksgiving, but my blood has no problem with that, as the various nationalities swirl in my veins.
One of my Mayflower ancestors was a Brewster, and back when I was a sweaty gardener I worked for a nice-but-slightly-stuffy-lady who one afternoon announced, with great pride, that she was related to the same Brewster. Jokingly I spread my arms and exclaimed, “Cousin!” She laughed, but I noted a slight alarm in her eyes, and that she stepped backwards.
Later I did some research, to see how many people are related to those haggard survivors of their first, hard winter. The answer astonished me. Roughly thirty million modern Americans, a bit less than ten percent of the population, could, if they bothered, discover they have an ancestor who was at the first Thanksgiving. It includes just about every race and religion.
It just goes to show you: Surviving the winter may pay off, in the long run.
Therefore I’ll take the time to get the wood stoves ready for the next cold wave. I sure wasn’t ready for this one, and it seems a sign this winter will be rough.
I think I’ll call that last Norlun Wave, “Storm #6”, as it did give us an inch of powder. (If we are going to match the 26 snows they got in a bad winter back in the 1600’s I may have to cheat a little.)
The national radar now looks very dry and storm-free, and the next storm looks likely to miss us, heading up to Hudson Bay. The computer models are promising a spell of mild and dry weather, which sure would be nice, but I don’t trust them.
The thing is, the high over us and now departing is darned cold. Any mild air coming north behind the high is bound to clash warm air against the departing cold air, and we may get snow from a warm front the models don’t see. Then, even though the storm is way to our north by Hudson Bay, its cold front will sweep down and bring that air that has been chilling Calgary. (I was thankful, this Thanksgiving, that I wasn’t in Calgary.)
I’ll believe the warm-up will happen when I see it.
UPDATE —THE COLD SNEAKS OFF—
Well, I’ve seen it and now believe it. Shortly after sunset yesterday it was down to 18 (-8 Celsius). I noticed when I went to bed at midnight that it had clouded over and temperatures had risen to 21(-6 Celsius.) Awaking at 6:30 AM I stepped out onto the porch and immediately was struck by how mild it seemed. It was 39. (+4 Celsius.)
You can’t even shut your eyes, around here, without the weather flipping out on you. My wife passed me on the porch, heading out for her morning walk, all bundled up like it was January, and after reaching the end of the drive way came back to shed the woolly scarf and hat and gloves.
That cold air didn’t put up much of a fight. It snuck off the same way it snuck in, without much fuss or wind. The wind is picking up slightly now, but is still from the wnw, as the warm front hasn’t gotten here yet. The sky is gray and lowering, but now it feels more like rain than snow. The crows and jays are much more active and noisy this morning, as all the critters that were hunkered down and hiding from the cold come back out to Christmas shop. The map shows the warm front is crossing New York State, but with a cold front coming on its heels.