Arctic Sea Ice —The Beaufort Switcheroo—(May 31, 2015)

The blogger “Chris PT” mentioned me in a YouTube video,

In the process he mentioned how watching sea-ice shrink and grow in the Arctic can be a bit like a sporting event, in that Alarmists all cheer wildly when more-than-expected melts, and Skeptics all cheer wildly when less-than-expected melts. I’m not sure I approve, considering billions of dollars are at stake, not to mention the fate of the planet (if you believe Alarmists.)  Also the arguing tends to disintegrate into discussions of the mental state and sanity of opponents, which has little to do with sea-ice, to put it mildly. Therefore I’m going to try to steer clear of such debate, when possible, and if I ridicule anyone it will be myself.

I will expose myself to ridicule by making a guess at what I think will happen. Then I will be wrong. Then I can have all the fun of ridiculing someone, by ridiculing myself.

One forecast sure to be correct this time of year is, “Warmer.”  Temperatures shoot upwards at the Pole, under the 24-hour-a-day sunshine, until they get above freezing and level off in late June. (The average climb in temperature is the green line in the graph below, and you can see how steep the climb is, from April through June.)

What is more difficult to forecast is whether the red line in the graph below will be above or below the green line. For some reason this is the third straight year that temperatures dipped below normal in May. It remains to be seen if they stay below normal for the rest of the summer, as they did the past two summers. I forecast that they will.

Switcher 4 meanT_2015

One way to get an idea how thick the ice is, which gives you a hint about how enduring it might be, is to study the NRL ice-thickness map.

Switch 6 arcticictnowcast If you watch this over a period of time some events become obvious. For example, all winter the ice was pushed from the northwest to the southeast across Hudson Bay, and by April the ice was piled up and thick to the southeast, and newly-formed and thin to the northwest. Therefore it is obvious ice will melt away first in the northwest. I forecast there will be some ice still left in the southeast of Hudson Bay in August.

In the like manner, a lot of ice was pushed out of the Kara Sea, so I expect it will melt more swiftly in the Kare Sea this year.  The Laptev Sea, on the other hand, did not export as much ice as last year. Last year the cross-polar-flow was so extreme that ice was pushed far from shore, leaving so much newly-formed, thin ice that, once melting began, an area of open water I dubbed “The Laptev Notch” formed during the summer, and stabbed north of 80 degrees latitude for a time. I forcast that notch to be far smaller this summer, and to have trouble melting north of 80 degrees.

If you don’t have the time to study the thickness-laps on a regular basis, you can watch a whole year be animated here:

What impresses me most in that animation is the bite the Pacific takes out ice north of the Bering Strait. That ice is solid and thick, at the start, but the influx of milder, Pacific water at the surface melts the ice from underneath, and ice that is ten feet thick in April can be gone by September.

I am expecting quite a bite to be taken from that ice this year, because the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) is going through a “warm spike”, and the water coming in through the Bering Strait ought be especially warm. However already I’ve blown my forecast in some ways. For one thing, to the south of Bering Strait the water on the Siberian side has become much colder than normal, and that makes me nervous. If it becomes involved, the water coming in through Bering Strait won’t be so mild.

Also the nice, mild breezes that have been rushing up from the south, and affirming my forecast, are putting me through the old switcheroo. They are swinging to the east and becoming colder.

The coldest air is currently parked over the Pole, and along the north coast of Greenland.

Switcher 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

However a high pressure is parked north of Bering Strait,

Switcher 5 mslp_latest.big

In three days the cold air will be pulled off the Pole, and it seems the yearly warm-up will be well underway.

Switcher 2 gfs_t2m_arctic_18

The problem with the above map is that it shows the Beaufort Sea during the warmest part of the day. Even under 24-hour-sunshine the sun is higher at noon, and a diurnal variation does occur. Therefore, to play it safe, we look at the situation under the midnight sun,

Switcher 3 gfs_t2m_arctic_20

Now the situation north of Bering Strait and in the Beaufort Sea suddenly looks much colder. This does not bode well, in the short term, for my forecast of melting in that area.

The GFS model makes it look like the high pressure will remain parked roughly where it is, and an easterly flow will move a lot of the cold air north of Greenland to the west, along the Canadian coast and finally to the Alaskan coast. Yesterday I noticed Buoy 2015B: had dropped from above freezing to -3.19° C, and while it has rebounded to -1.33° in the “noontime” heating, the water its camera shows in a nearby lead looks suspiciously like it is skimming over with ice.

Bouy 2015B 0531 camera2

O-buoy #12 (which is due north of Bering Strait and most likely to first feel the effects of the “warm” PDO), has fallen from above freezing to -5°.

Obuoy 12 0531 temperature-1week Obuoy 12 0531 webcam

To the east across the Beaufort Sea, our old friend Obuoy 10 also shows an abrupt temperature drop

Obuoy 10 0531 temperature-1week Obuoy 10 0531 webcam

The buoy I’ll be watching is Buoy Buoy 2015A: , which is right on the coast of Alaska and effected by the sun-baked tundra just to its south. It’s camera is currently showing a lot of melt-water pools and temperatures are at +0.66°. If the camera starts to show the melt-water pools freezing over, then we’ll know the cold air has really backed west.

Buoy 2015A 0531 camera1

Of course, the cold will have to come from somewhere, and if the Pole is robbed of all its sub-freezing air, temperatures will likely rise up that way. They may even get their first thaw of the year. As it is, it is currently -8.42° C up at Buoy 2015D: , which is hard to see but is to the left of this picture, taken by North Pole Camera 1.

NP3 1 0531 2015cam1_1

In conclusion, what is really fun about watching ice melt is seeing surprises occur, and what you don’t expect. I did not expect this cold shot into the Beaufort Sea.

What happened last summer, and I expect to happen again this summer, is for there to be some of these cold spells that come right out of the blue, with their origins more or less a mystery. After all, you reach a point where there is no more cold air left at the Pole. In the current situation the Beaufort cold can be explained-away as a case of Robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul, but later in the summer Peter is broke, so you can’t rob him. It is when there are suddenly temperatures below freezing in July, without any apparent “source reason,” that your sense of wonder starts to come into play.

I’m looking forward to that.

LOCAL VIEW —Drought-buster—

I seldom root against my favorite weathermen. Their job is rough enough as it is, and has enough humbling involved for ten men.

Weathermen also have to deal with a fair number of twerps who remind me of myself when I was thirteen, though they are old enough to know better.

These twerps like to portray themselves as being able to out-forecast the weathermen, and then to have what is tantamount to a ticker-tape parade for themselves, as they sneer at the weathermen for being wrong. Of course, if the twerp was honest he would see he is very seldom as adept as the weatherman, however he is very quiet about all the times he is wrong, and sweeps scores of botched forecasts under the rug, and conveniently forgets them. It is only on those rare occasions when the twerp is right that he becomes insufferably vain, and insufferably condescending towards weathermen.

I suppose we all were a bit like that when we were thirteen. It is the beginnings of the competitive instinct which can take a complete twerp and turn him into a splendid forecaster, if he is lucky enough to be guided by wise mentors. And I also suppose that is why splendid weathermen do not shoot the twerps who assail them. They see a bit of themselves in the obnoxious little egotists.

If course, you do not want to look in the mirror at age sixty-two, as I am, and see an obnoxious little egotist. Unfortunately, (speaking for all when I probably should speak only for myself), there seems to be a bit of the obnoxious little twerp in every man. It is a part of us that refuses to die, no matter how hard we strive to be perfect. Only God is perfect, and  the sooner we recognize this fact the sooner we develop the ability to accept our own humanity, and the humanity of others, which seems essential, if joy is to enter our lives. The alternative is to be pissed off all the time about failures.

In any case, one reason I like following the world of weather and weather forecasts is because there are few things quite so humbling as trying to forecast the chaos we call our weather. The only other occupation which attempts such difficult forecasting of chaotic systems is psychiatry, but psychiatrists can blame their patients when they are wrong. It is very hard for meteorologists to blame the sky.

And so it is that, because weathermen are taking on such a insurmountable challenge, I tend to root for them. I want them to experience those shining moments when they are correct. Even if they were merely gamblers, I’d want them to appreciate those lucky times when a gambler is “on a roll”, however I know enough about forecasting to see when a lot more is involved than sheer luck. (Not that luck isn’t involved, to some degree, at times.)

I only hope weathermen are wrong when we are on the verge of setting a local record, but some forecast weather event is going to spoil it for us. For example, New Hampshire has been amazingly dry, this spring. I personally have never seen a spring quite so dry, but it looks like it will not quite fit into the somewhat arbitrary 31-day time-period called, “The Month Of May.”

I don’t see what is so good about 31-days. After all, February has 28 days. Or why does the period have to begin on May first? Why couldn’t it begin on April 27?  But no one asked me, when they wrote the rules, and so it is a couple of lousy showers at the very end of May will keep this May out of the record books. It will not be remembered. Only guys like me, who were out there in the weather, will know how amazing it was.

Not that the land isn’t crying out for rain. I just feel that, having had to deal with the nuisance of dryness for so long, putting up with a couple more days of it would be worth it, for then we’d get some credit. As it is, no one will remember we tough outdoors-men, who weathered the weather.

A heat wave this week made the dryness parch with extra power. A polar high sank south and merged with the extension of the Azores High we call, “The Bermuda High,” and warm air surged north on the west side, but did so without a warm front. Or, a warm front was visible, if you looked for high clouds, but not if you looked for rain. The rain was back west, towards the Great lakes, and then, as the warm front developed more, the rain extended east, but by then the frontal boundary was north of us, and the rain fell up by the Canadian border. Our only hope of rain was from a following cold front, well to our west:

20150527 satsfc

20150527 rad_ec_640x480 I was fairly certain this front would drench us, because my wife had scheduled an event at our Childcare involving lots of parents, and held outside. It has been my experience that, if she scheduled such an event in the Sahara Desert, the desert would bloom.

I myself tend to grumble when my wife holds these events, for three main reasons.

First, she expects me to make the farm look more groomed than any hardscrabble farm has any right to look. Even when I explain daisies and buttercups make a beautiful playground, she wants it mowed like a golf course. That means I have to mow in clouds of dust and 90 degree heat, so of course I grumble a bit.

Second, I can’t help but cringe at the expenses, especially as they are business expenses. I have my doubts that the IRS will approve of strawberries and whipped cream as a business expense, but my wife wants the parents treated like royalty. So I grumble about that as well.

Lastly, the idea of a graduation ceremony for preschoolers seems completely absurd to me. It is so absurd I can’t grumble.  Instead I stand back and watch, often in admiration and amazement, as she and members of the staff organize children too young to organize, and have them enchanting parents with song and dance routines. The fact this usually is occurring in a driving rain with lightning flashing and thunder crashing doesn’t seem to bother the doting parents a bit. They always fill Facebook with flattering comments, and pictures of drenched people smiling, and the event is always a wonderful success, which defies all logic, (and I do grumble a bit about that.)

I was slightly annoyed she was holding the event a little early this year, as it promised to ruin our chances for the driest May ever, with the typical deluge. You could see the big storms developing out in upper New York State, and moving towards us, but it seemed my wife got the timing wrong, as her event was scheduled for six o’clock and the storms weren’t expected to hit until seven-thirty, when the event would be ending.

20150527B satsfc

20150527B rad_ne_640x480

Looking at the above radar map. you can see the big storms entering western Massachusetts and crossing from Vermont to New Hampshire, but you can also see the storms have a sort of waistline, right on the Massachusetts border. This often happens. Storms, when they come from the west, pass north of us and south of us.

Also the storms died down swiftly as the heat of the day faded. Looking at the above radar shot you’d doubt the line of showers could pass and give us only 0.07 inches of rain, but that is what happened.

We had traditions to keep, and they were kept. At the end of our event the small children took their parents out to see various parts of the woods behind the Farm-childcare. Small children like being able to be guides, and show their parents places with names like, “The Cliffs”, “Lightning Rock”, “Reptilian Grove”, and “Checkerberry Woods”.  They all vanished into the trees in a leisurely, ambling manner. Then there was a single, loud boom of thunder. It was wonderful how swiftly everyone reappeared.

But amazingly that single boom was the only boom we got.

It didn’t take long for the sun to dry everything, the next morning. After all, in late May the sun is as high as it is in hot July.

Yesterday morning was what may turn out to be the peak of our dry spell. Lawns were starting to have brown patches, as if it was August. Even the trees, with deep roots that go down to where the water-table remembers February’s deep snows, were showing a slow-down I never recall seeing before. For example, now is when the leader shoots of pines, (and every other plant as well), grows with their most frantic speed, to climb above the competition, but the leader shoots seemed short. Without brains, the vegetables were reassessing their profits and liabilities.

Once again, in the afternoon, a line of thunderstorms developed, but this time it was not so fat and impressive.

20150528B satsfc

20150528B rad_ne_640x480_10

If you look at the above radar shot, understanding red represents heavy rains, you will notice it is red in Maine, and red in Massachusetts, but only green in New Hampshire. Yes, it happened again. Big storms passed to our north, and to our south. However this time we got the skirts of both storms, complete with wonderfully cooling downbursts and tumbling lines of purple clouds, so this time we got 0.35 inches of rain.

And today it is bone dry again, with the closest rain well to our west.

20150529 satsfc

20150529 rad_nat_640x480 However it is too late. That 0.35 inches of rain spoiled our chance to set a record. Therefore we might as well hope my favorite forecasters are correct. At his site at Weatherbell, Joseph D’Aleo is using Dr. Ryan Maue’s marvelous maps to suggest we will move from being the driest part of the USA:

Droughtbuster 1 cpc_anom_60_usa_1(4)

To Boston being hit by five inches of rain, from next Sunday to next Wednesday.

Droughtbuster 2 ecmwf_tprecip_boston_41

Boston is five inches below normal, so five inches would be a real drought-buster for them. But if you look at that same map, you will notice a bulge of lighter red, indicating around two inches of rain, poking down from New Hampshire to central Massachusetts. And yes, that is us again. We do seem to miss out on the deluges, this year.

Not that 0.35 inches hasn’t made an enormous difference. It was amazing how much greener our landscape was this morning. And all the weeds in my garden have doubled in size. Therefore, if I do not post this weekend, you will understand why, and what I am doing. (Weeding.)

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Obuoy reports–Updated

The arctic continues to warm rapidly, as is usual this time of year, but it remains below normal.

DMI2 0527 meanT_2015

Currently low pressure rides along the Russian coast, and high pressure along the Canadian coast.

DMI2 0527 mslp_latest.big

The snow cover is mostly gone in Alaska, but remains in Siberia.

Snow cover May 26 ims2015146_alaska

Notice how much colder the snow cover makes Siberia, compared to Alaska. (Admittedly part of the difference is because it is Afternoon in Alaska and Morning in eastern Siberia, in the map below.)

Snowcover May 26 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

(As an aside, the colder air is currently towards the Atlantic, where the AMO is in  its “cold” phase, while the milder air is towards the Pacific, where the PMO is currently in its “warm” phase. I expect more melting on the Pacific side than the Atlantic side this summer. The air temperatures will be interesting to watch.)

O-buoy 9 is in the colder air just north of Greenland, while the other three o-buoys are in the Beaufort Sea,  which has seen some cooling after a recent thaw.

O-buoy 9 continues to show the lead in the near distance close. It was quite wide and open, but now is crunched together and frozen over. Temperatures are slowly rising, as is expected in May.

Obuoy 9 0527 webcam Obuoy 9 0527 temperature-1week

If you have two minutes to spare, I recommend watching the O-bouy 9 movie at from the 24:00 time onward to the end at 25:45. It takes the O-buoy people a while to update the movies, but they just updated O-buoy 9’s up to May 23. After 24:00 there are some very cool views of the mountains of Greenland way off in the distance, when the weather is clearest. Then the lead forms at 25:12, during a very windy and stormy time, and gets wide and freezes over before again closing.

The thin ice over the leads is ice that would not form if the water was not exposed, and also represents heat lost to the atmosphere up there, which makes it all the more surprising that temperatures are below normal.  Then, when the lead closes, all that thin ice gets crushed together and adds to the volume of the arctic ice. The only time this process doesn’t occur is during the period of roughly 60 days when temperatures are above freezing.

O-buoy 10 has been wandering in circles out in the Beaufort Sea since it was placed out there in late August 2013, and is an old friend. Currently its view is a bit boring, as all the details of the ice are hidden under snow. It saw some thawing last week, a cold snap (down below -7° c) over the weekend, and currently is just below freezing.

Obuoy 10 0527 webcam Obuoy 10 0527 temperature-1week

O-buoy 10 is apparently on a particularly solid chunk of ice, and gives the somewhat false impression the ice is more stable than it actually is. The ice in the Beaufort Sea is best thought of as fragmented. This is shown by the fact O-buoy 11 was placed north of where O-bouy 10 now floats last October, but now O-buoy 11 is well to the south east of O-buoy 10. The ice floes and bergs often move in a manner which demonstrates they are independent. Small floes with pressure ridges are like a boat with sails set, and can move much faster than a large, flat berg.

O-buoy 11 has been frustrating, as an interesting lead formed in the middle distance, but the lens has been covered with snow a lot, and it was hard to witness what followed.  The lead apparently slammed shut, and became a pressure ridge which blocks the view beyond, to a certain degree, and makes it hard to see what the lead is up to.  It looks like the lead may again be opening up a little. It too experienced the recent thaw, but now is back down around -4° C.

Obuoy 11 0527 webcam Obuoy 11 0527 temperature-1week

Lastly, O-buoy 12 is located further to the west, and, because it is north of Bering Strait, it is liable to be the first buoy subject to the warm PDO’s milder waters invading through the Strait. I am expecting to see a lot of action from  this buoy, in terms of ice crumbling, leads forming, and the sort of general break-up of ice that Alarmists love to see for political reasons, and I like to see because it is more interesting than watching ice just sit there and stay flat.

We definitely missed some action last winter, for when O-buoy 12 was placed last October it pictured ice that was flat, but when the frost melted off the lens this spring a pressure ridge had appeared right in front of the camera’s nose, extending away. It likely was a close call, for I have seen pressure ridges topple cameras and make them dysfunctional. (On the other hand, these O-bouy cameras can fall in the water and they just bob around, continuing to take pictures.)

Nothing much is happening at the moment, but I include a picture from O-buoy 12 because it is just, plain beautiful. (That is actually a reason to sit around watching ice melt. Watching icw also is cooling to me, and it is 90° here in New Hampshire, today.) At the buoy it is hair below freezing, after being a hair above earlier. They had less of a freeze over the weekend, this far west.

Obuoy 12 0527 webcam Obuoy 12 0527 temperature-1week

And that’s the news from O-buoy land, for now.


It was pointed out to me that one of the Mass Balance Bouts is showing melting . It is 2015A. located right on the coast of Alaska, here:


If you refer back to the start of this post it can be seen that the coast has no snow-cover. Temperatures can be considerably warmer over the tundra once it is bare, under sunshine that lasts 24 hours a day, north the Arctic Circle, and nearly as long south of it. Incredible clouds of mosquitoes breed in pools of warm water, with permafrost not many feet beneath, and temperatures even in Siberia rise above 70° and have been known to approach 100°.

Tundra experiences extremes Antarctica doesn’t dream of, and the warmth of summer tundra explains the melting of inshore waters.  Buoy 2015A: will allow us to watch it as it occurs.

Not that it is all that warm there right now. It is reporting a whopping +0.12° C, however when the sun stays up hour after hour, and temperatures remain above freezing, melting will occur, as can be seen. Here is a picture from when Bouy 2015A was set in place back on April 26:

Bouy 2015 A image_2015A_r And here is a picture as we enter the fifty longest days of the year.

Bouy 2015A May 27 camera1

It will be interesting to see if this inshore ice can survive even to July. I hope Buoy 2015’s camera can float.


An odd thing about Chaos is that it is always trying to become organized. It has been doing this since the Big Bang, which involved a flash of sub-sub-atomic partials of mind exploding out of an Om Point the size of your navel, expanding at warp speed and, within a day, already starting to organize to sub-atomic partials of energy, if not atomic partials of matter. You can see Chaos organizing itself right from the start.

Chaos continues in the whirling winds of our weather, yet out of the chaos comes the amazing spiral structures of hurricanes, which fill me with hope, for if nature can organize chaos into such structure I may be able to organize the papers on my desk.

The problem then becomes: Hurricanes fall apart and disorder returns. (That also happens to my desk.) Chaos goes back to being chaotic, and basically unpredictable.

What the better meteorologists of the old school did, (and a few still do), was to seek for signs of order appearing from the chaos. Only when you see order developing can you get an idea what might follow. It is for this reason they leap to attention when anything in the swirling worlds of weather repeats. Not that anything every repeats exactly, but similarities can be seen, and cycles and patterns described.

One thing that has repeated is a “warm” spike in the PDO after it shifted to its “cold” cycle. I believe it was Joseph D’Aleo that pointed out this happened in the late 1950’s, and is happening again now.

I myself wonder if the PDO “warm” spike might be a sort of pulse that kicks-back when the AMO remains stubbornly “warm” and is out-of-sync with the PDO, and furthermore wonder if this kick-back might be part of what kick-starts the AMO into its “Cold” phase, wherein it is more in sync with the PDO. (We are really novices, when it comes to understanding the engineering of these events.)

Another order that appeared out of Chaos involved the amount of ice in the Bering Strait, as the PDO shifted to “cold” and then spiked back to “warm”. It seemed quite obvious the ice grew dramatically when the PDO was “cold” and then shrank back when the PDO spiked “warm”.

This sort of obvious connection between sea-ice and the PDO cycle is very annoying to certain Alarmists, who insist the ice is shrinking because of CO2 and warming, even though the warming has stopped for 18 years. To me, if the ice does its thing even as world temperatures remain basically flat and CO2 rises, then what causes the ice to do its thing must be something other than CO2 or World Temperatures. However it apparently isn’t politically correct to say so.

This “warm” spike of the PDO at the start of its “cold” cycle is larger than the last one. I suppose some Alarmists might hope it will stay stuck in its “warm” state, and disprove the idea that the PDO follows a certain cycle. That hope is likely to get punctured, for already there are signs that the pattern is setting up a rebound to cold. Often such patterns are authors of their own demise, in this manner.

However even as it fades, this “warm” spike is likely to last into the winter, and give the Eastern USA a third cold winter, (because the warmth off Alaska builds a ridge which pours airs south on its east side). The “warm” spike is also already reducing the amount of ice in the Bering Strait, and likely will soon start to take a bite out of the ice in the Arctic Ocean, especially in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

This is bound to get a lot of news coverage, and be used as “proof” Global Warming is melting the Pole. (There will be far less news about a possible increase of ice on the Atlantic side, if the AMO remains “cold”.)

Therefore it is best to be aware of the Pacific-side meltdown,  and not involve yourself in knee-jerk arguments with Alarmists. You will look foolish if you automatically argue that the melt isn’t happening, when it likely will be happening.  Some of melt-down will be normal stuff that happens every year, and some will be normal stuff that happens when the PDO is warm.

What usually happens up there is that the ice melts along the shores. The land heats swiftly once the snow is gone, and the tundra can often experience temperatures above 70° (21° Celsius.) This warmth melts ice along the shore even when the colder ocean pushes a cold sea breeze inland, and any time the wind shifts around to the south and becomes off shore, mild winds push out over the ice, and the ice itself is also pushed away from shore.

For example, right now a Aleutian Low off the east coast of Russia is pushing air up into Bering Strait and on towards the Pole.

Beaufort 1 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

(The above map is produced by Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell Site.) The Aleutian Low straddles the bottom center margin, and the Bering Strait is at the bottom center.

It is the winds that do most, when it comes to creating open water, though an influx of milder water through Bering Stait also does a lot, when it comes to melting the ice from the bottom up, especially when the PDO is warm, and most especially when the water is warmest in August.

Currently the NRL ice-movement map shows that the ice is being pushed north.

Beaufort 2 beauforticespddrfnowcast

The above map shows open water along the Canadian shore at the lower right corner. This open water was created by very strong winds pushing off shore a week ago, and is a sort of Polinya. It has little to do with ice melting and much to do with ice moving. However the open water, which would freeze over swiftly in the winter, is unlikely to freeze over now, as temperatures are up close to freezing. Also notice the black line on the land in the lower right corner. That is the Mackenzie River

MackenzieRiver_FritzMueller At this time of year the Mackenzie is in full flood, due to vast amounts of snow melting, and all that water is pouring out into the Arctic Ocean. Even when it is ice water it spreads out over the denser salt water, and when it warms only to 33° (+0.6° Celsius)  it can be warmer than the salt water, which can be down around 29° (-1.7° Celsius) in the spring, and this gives the river-water another reason to spread out over the salt water, because warm water is less dense than cold water. This flood of milder, fresh water at the surface contributes to the break-up of the ice in that area. Until it can be shown that the river is consistently thawing and flooding earlier each year, (it was late a couple years ago), then the melt around the Mackenzie Delta has nothing to do with Global Warming.

Because the ice is being pushed north, it is not forming leads, but rather is being crunched and compressed and likely forming pressure ridges to the north. The Watts Up With That “Beaufort Sea Ice Page” has NRL maps that show the situation from a satellite’s perspective:

Here is the map showing there is little formation of leads of open water occurring, as the ice crunches north:

Beaufort 3 beaufortopeningnowcast

And here is a map that shows the ice is undergoing compression:

Beaufort 4 beaufortstrengthnowcast

Therefore one is able to conclude that, while open water is appearing along the shores, the ice towards the Central Arctic is still being built up thicker.

There are seven Mass Balance Buoys floating on that ice, which are indexed here:

They were showing south winds and a thaw, but all but one have recently slipped back below freezing, with Buoy 2015D: the coldest at -3.77° C (25.2° Fahrenheit) and the sole exception to below freezing temperatures being Buoy 2014I: at +1.59 C (34.9 Fahrenheit).

My old friend is Buoy 2012G: which was placed up near the Pole back on October 1, 2012, and taken its sweet time riding the ice south and then west.

Beaufort 5 2012G_track

Most interesting is the new  Buoy 2015B: which was placed last March 26, and has shown the ice drift west and then get crunched north.

Beaufort 6 2015B_track

2015B also has a camera, which has shown the view change from this on April 20 (with a lead refreezing in the far distance):

Beaufort 7 2015B April 20 image_2015B_r To this on May 25 (with the stressed ice breaking up):

Beaufort 8 2015B May 25 camera2 It is interesting to note that the Mass Balance Buoy (the white buoy in the first picture) may be missing from the second picture, but is still reporting that it sits atop ice that is 177 cm (5.8 feet) thick. Apparently it hasn’t fallen into the water, and rides a separate berg. (One hopes there are separate GPS’s; I’ve seen buoys that began close together on a single sheet of ice wind up over a hundred miles apart.)

Beaufort 9 2015B_thick

I noted a certain Alarmist making a big deal about the open water in the second picture, exclaiming it was early for the ice to be “melting”,  and pointing out the NTL Lead Opening Rate map didn’t show this “melting” (from a satellite stationed miles above). Comments and conclusions such as his are why it is important to use your own lying eyes, and watch things for yourself. It enables you to politely respond with facts.

For example. I could point out that the temperature is currently -0.66° C at Buoy 2015B, so no melting is occurring, and suggest that what is happening is that the ice is getting crunched as it is blown north, and in fact there is more compressing going on than lead-opening or “melting”.

Not that melting won’t begin soon. It always does, but this year we have more buoys to watch it happen. There are also three O-buoy cameras up that way, but they are rather boring, all showing flat ice with some jumbles of pressure ridges, but no leads yet (and likely no melt-water pools until July). In fact here is the view of melt-water pools Obuoy 10 gave us last July 8:


And here is the view from that same buoy now:

Obuoy 10 0525 webcam

The only sign of the recent thaw is that the snow has shrunk down enough to expose the very top of the buoy. A week or so ago you could only see the antennae sticking up.

The Beaufort Breakup is only just beginning. Here’s to a summer of happy watching!

LOCAL VIEW –Animal Crackers 1A–

The high pressure has passed out to sea, and the wind is swinging around from north to south, but staying from the west, which keeps us dry. Sometimes, as the winds swing around from north to south, the difference between the cold eastern side of a high pressure cell and the warm western side of a high  pressure cell is marked by a nice, neat warm front. That didn’t happen today. Even as I felt the air grow more kindly, the sky remained more or less cloudless. Perhaps, if I had really taken the time to study the sky, I might have noticed a warm front was trying to form, or starting to form, or existed in some sort of protofrontal state, but I was otherwise occupied. Also the weather map shows no warm front, even as the air warms.

20150524 satsfc

The above map shows the warm front forming well to our west, and the yellow evidence of high clouds to the north of the front, and extending east past the end of the front right over where I live in New Hampshire. When I step outside I see a night sky gone starless. Does this mean the warm front is rapidly extending eastwards? Is there a hope of rain?

During the day the democratic sunshine falls equally, but is employed unequally, and creates all sorts of chaotic local variances that messes up the flow from the south,  but at night all that chaos ceases. A southerly flow gets more of a chance to do its thing in an organized manner, and one of its things is called, “warm air advection,” which can create a lovely mass of nighttime thunderstorms that wake you at dawn with morning thunder and the delicious sound of your garden getting watered for free.

So I eagerly look to the radar, to seek signs of showers in the southerly flow.

20150524 rad_ec_640x480 Blast. Not a shower in sight, east of Michigan.

It looks like the drought is going to continue, as yet again the warming occurs without much of a front. The best I can hope for all the upcoming week is that the southerly flow creates some afternoon thunderstorms, which tend to be hit-or-miss in nature, but tend to hit some areas more than my area, which tends to be missed more often than hit, (unless winds swing around to just east of due south, in which case we can get clobbered by our loudest thunder.)

The drought means someone has to stand about with a hose watering the poor plants in the parched garden. Fortunately, as a writer, I can afford to be a gentleman farmer, and hire a staff of three gardeners. Unfortunately my writing never sells because I can’t be bothered to brown-nose, and this means my staff-of-three in the garden consists of three 62-year-old complainers who work for free, called “Me”, “Myself” and “I”. (I suffer from triplophrenia, you see.)

As we stood about watering the plants today we had pretty much decided that the entire idea of farming is a losing proposition, especially if you are 62-years-old.  If you are young and suffering from an excess of hormones, farming is a great way to get exhausted and sleep well without doing the exhausting stuff that winds you up in jail. However by age 62 we are suppose to know better. So, why the -bleep- do we farm?

After discussing this question we decided we didn’t want to go there. The question is one that a fool psychologist would ask, and expect you to pay him for supplying him with an answer. This never has made sense to us. If he doesn’t know, he should be paying us for answering his questions.

Then the psychologist would pretend he knew it all along, which would be ridiculous, because the answer he would come up with would be nuts. He would want to charge us more for making up some name for us. Maybe it would be DADAD, which would stand for “Digging A-lot-of Dirt-with Affection Disorder.” Then he would try to charge us even more money for some drug that would make us bland and uninteresting, and likely unable to dig dirt and garden. Isn’t it ridiculous? The three of us decided we should call him a FAFAS, which stands for….never mind. (If I told you what FAFAS stands for, psychologists might sue, which also makes no sense. How can they call other folk names, and expect other folk to pay for being disparaged, and yet  then expect other folk to pay them even more for “defamation of a professional’s character”, when the other folk get irate over being disparaged and call psychologists names back?)

We three have some mighty interesting discussions, as we water the carrots.

By the time we got to watering the broccoli we had pretty much decided we weren’t going to pay to become bland and uninteresting, but rather would figure out how to charge other people for answering their questions about how it is we have wound up the opposite of bland and uninteresting.

One idea we floated was to write a book about one of the benefits of farming that can’t be measured with money; namely: How enchanting it is to be so closely associated with animals.

Vegans and Animal Rights Activists think they care about animals, but tend to live too far away from the eat-or-be-eaten reality of a farm to truly understand both what is beastly about beasts and what is beautiful about beasts. Often, when they lecture farmers, they come across like spinsters lecturing mothers about motherhood.

We decided the best animal-character to use, to underscore the eat-or-be-eaten aspect of our farm, would be “Victory” the fox. Of course, we don’t raise foxes on our farm, but this vixen has spared me the bother of raising chickens by defeating all my fences, and over and over taking all my chickens to feed her cubs with. (Victory has repaid me by raising two litters of pups where the children of my Farm-Childcare can sneak up, peer through underbrush, and watch baby foxes play outside of a hole in the hillside.  Considering I myself never saw this, even when I discovered where vixens lived, until I was over sixty, I know the kids at my Childcare are lucky, and that my Childcare is special.)

Victory got her name because she always won. Even when my free-range chickens were reduced to being limited-range chickens, and finally demoted to penned-up concentration-camp chickens, Victory laughed at my fences. However this year things are different, due to one of my goats named “Muffler.”

(How Muffler got her name is a story for another evening, but I will mention her brother’s name was “Tailgate.”)

Even when Victory ate all our chickens, we kept being given more. People would purchase cute and fluffy Easter chicks for their children, and then be horrified that the cute creatures lost their fluff and became the thinly-feathered and gawky creatures called “pullets”. After dealing with ugly, stinky pullets for a week or two they became all too eager to get the smell from their homes. Therefore, even though I would be glad to be done with chickens for once and for all, over and over I would wind up stuck with more of them. Then they promptly thrive on our farm. Even if they have been complete failures, as egg-layers, they abruptly start laying left and right, which I find a bit of a nuisance. After all, they are suppose to be a business expense. They are not suppose to be productive. That will only get me in trouble with the IRS, which will demand a full account of all the blasted eggs these free-range-hens are laying all over the place.

Suppose I found an egg and ate it. Have you any idea how this would complicate my taxes? There is a whole formula involving “home use”, and I don’t want to open that can of worms. It is obvious to me that, if I ate an egg, it would bankrupt me, because farm-fresh eggs taste a hundred times better than store-bought eggs, and therefore, if store-bought eggs cost $3.00 a dozen, I should charge myself a hundred times as much, or $300.00 a dozen, for farm fresh eggs.

You may think I am exaggerating, but I recently bought a store bought egg, and was amazed how it failed to behave like an egg, when I broke it in the pan. Where a fresh egg has two whites, (a watery white that spreads out, and a jelly that clings to the yoke,) this egg had only one, slimy white that wasn’t clear, but sort of cloudy.  Also, where a fresh yoke stands up from the pan like a half moon, the store-bought yoke lay as flat as the white did. Lastly, where a fresh yoke is vibrantly yellow, even verging on orange, the store-bought yoke was an insipid yellow, like the color of a manila folder. There was no way I wanted to put that store-bought crud in my mouth after I fried it. It didn’t even smell right, but in the interests of science I tasted it, and it didn’t even taste like an egg. Mostly it tasted like 90 days in a refrigerator, but behind that stale freezer-burn flavor was the blank-eyed derangement of assembly-line-chickens, kept in cramped darkness by people who do not share my belief that part of farming is to be closely associated with animals.

Because store bought-eggs taste like blended freezer-burn and abscess-existence, the IRS would obviously expect me to get $300.00 a dozen for each dozen of my delicious, farm-fresh eggs, and my chickens lay dozens upon dozens. I’d have a hard time accounting correctly, in a manner up to IRS standards, because the truth is: I have a hard time even finding where the cotton-picking free-range chickens have laid the blame things. But I know the IRS would doubt me, if I gave them that excuse. They think people have nothing better to do than to hunt hidden eggs and keep careful accounts.

Therefore I have nothing to do with the eggs. I will not touch them with a ten foot pole. I leave the work of collecting eggs to Myself and Me, and it is those two who will have to go to jail, for eating several thousand dollars worth of scrumptious eggs, and not even declaring it on their taxes.  (Come to think of it, I don’t think those two even bother with taxes. If the IRS ever catches on, they will be in big trouble. Likely I’ll be in trouble as well, because the IRS will figure out I don’t pay those guys anything close to minimum wage, and don’t withhold their taxes.)

It would make my life a lot simpler if Victory would just eat my chickens, and be done with it, but this year Muffler has decided to become a defender of chickens, and every time Victory advances across the pasture Muffler goes trotting out to meet the vixen, lowering her horns. Victory sits down and cocks her head inquisitively, refusing the indignity of backing off from a mere goat, and when Muffler then paws the dry pasture and advances further, Victory trots away to to the left as if she always intended to go that way, and was only pulling over at a rest stop to enjoy the view. for a moment.

The chickens were quick to catch on, and now, as soon as they spot Victory, they hustle to get behind Muffler.

I’d have no hope anything would rid me of my blasted chickens, however a clumsy hawk has recently appeared, who I call “Lurker.” Either Lurker is very young or very old, but whatever she or he is, he or she is a lousy hunter. She swoops down on squirrels, but her talons grab at the turf three feet short of where the oblivious squirrel is busy. The stupid squirrel deserves to be dead, knocked into the next world without knowing what hit him, but instead it is totally scared out of its wits, and does a jump which holds several twists and back-flips. (You can almost imagine a row of Olympic judges holding up cards reading, 9.7; 9.9; 9.8; 9.7.) The shock is so huge that I think all our red squirrels have been turned into gray squirrels. Then the squirrel escapes, streaking off flat-out at top speed, as Lurker dusts himself off and laboriously flaps slowly back up to the tree tops.

Lurker decided my chickens looked like more easy prey, and began frowning down from trees near their coop, but just before he could do me the favor of relieving me of the tax burden of chickens, a gang of local crows noticed him, and harangued him with swooping choruses of cries, until he fled away under the canopy of trees.

I see all this stuff, as I stand there watering my radishes in a drought. Watering radishes would be a pretty boring job, and fairly unprofitable, considering the price of radishes, but there is this benefit which I, (and also Me and Myself), derive from watching foxes and crows and goats and hawks and chickens.

Vegans and Animal Rights activists may think this story is charming because my chickens are still alive. They apparently don’t care for the hungry hawk’s rumbling stomach, or Victory’s hungry cubs. However today I was in the mood to personally strangle those chickens for doing something even Vegans would find deplorable.

Vegans would like the part of my garden dedicated to organic spinach and lettuce. I water the greens a lot in the drought, as they love water, and to keep them from being parched by the water-sucking weeds I’ve made sure to heavily much between the rows.

But then my free-range chickens decided to rearrange things. They should be called “free-arrangers”,  because they discovered there were no bugs in the exposed, sun-baked soil, but there were a few bugs under the mulch. Therefore the hens went and, in a most meticulous manner, hopped scratching down the rows, removing all the mulch from between the rows, and heaping it on top my tiny, tender lettuce and spinach seedlings. In other words, they created a situation that was more favorable to water-sucking weeds than my spinach and lettuce. In fact, as I went down the rows, putting mulch back where mulch belonged, I saw some lettuce and spinach plants couldn’t withstand the abrupt shift between bright, hot, dry sunshine, and the the cloying crush of mulch’s mushroom-house humidity. Beneath the mulch they had swiftly gotten moldy and died.

Vegans may be spiritual about a lot of things, however everyone has their breaking point, and I think that, if they were faced with the prospect of having no lettuce and no spinach, they might be at odds with Animal Rights Activists, and shout, “This free-range chicken business has simply gone too far!

In which case they are coming down to earth with a thump, and entering the down-to-earth reality of a farmer. Often it takes losing what you care most about to ground you.

The fact of the matter is that many who think they care about nature have little idea nature is a eat or be eaten reality. They live upon scaffolds built upon scaffolds built upon scaffolds, up in an Ivory Tower created by Academics, Economists, Bureaucrats and others who don’t have to farm, and can eat without having any idea what life in the dirt entails.

Me, Myself and I think it might be helpful to such people if we described the world of sharing space with eat-or-be-eaten animals, with a series of “Local Views” called “Animal Crackers”.  After ten or so episodes we’ll publish an eBook and make a large amount of money. Then, at long last, we’ll be able to sit in the shade, sip mint juleps wearing the gray suits of a plantation-owner, and watch others water our garden.

We won’t give up on gardening or go indoors. If we did that we’d miss the animal’s antics and lose the enchantment of farming. In fact the hard part of writing the best seller will be going indoors to write. I don’t think I can handle such deprivation, and Myself agrees, but Me says we can get a laptop and do our writing outside.

(And, if there is one thing sure to make it rain and end our drought, I’m fairly certain leaving a laptop out on a table by the garden will do it.)

LOCAL VIEW –New England Drought Continues–

Despite the hopes in the long-range forecast last weekend, another week has passed with all the fronts producing far less rain than expected.  A big high pressure is settling over us, giving us chilly winds this morning, and amazingly dry air.

20150523 satsfcConcord, New Hampshire, to our northeast, has only had 0,04 inches of rain all May, where it usually has 2.52 inches by the end of May 22. When I was out digging holes for some new asparagus roots yesterday, away from where I water, the top four inches of the dirt (exposed to full sun) were bone dry. The polar air over us was dry to begin with, and as the high sun warms it 30 degrees today, the dryness will become relatively drier, until humidity drop below 20%.  With the winds gusty, any fires that get going in the woods grow “explosively”, and spread “uncontrollably”, so there are Red Flag Warnings out. My middle son has gone camping with his friends, and I’m wondering if he will be allowed to have a campfire. (I can’t imagine camping without a campfire.) (Where’s the romance?)

(Of course, In “Roughing It”, Mark Twain describes how his campfire got out of control on the shores of Lake Tahoe, and burned over a couple mountain ranges. That may not be exactly “romantic”, but it does make for good reading.)

We are finally starting to show up in the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought 1 20150519_northeast_trd

This is a great honor, and once you are recognized it is not an honor easily lost. For example, a couple years ago Tesas, Oklahoma and Nebraska were suffering what was dubbed the “Permadrought”, as it was expected to last decades, and they can’t seem to rain their way out of drought status.

Drought 2 screenhunter_160-may-22-21-10

“Steve Goddard,” driving back to Colorado from Maryland, reports flood waters two feet shy of flooding Interstate 80 in Nebraska, with their “drought” still on the map.

Drought 3 screenhunter_161-may-22-21-15

Hmm. Maybe those maps aren’t so reliable, after all. Fortunately Dr. Ryan Maue produces wonderful maps over at the Weatherbell site, and Joseph D’Aleo used the map below to show just how little rain we have had in our area over the past 60 days.

Drought 4 cpc_anom_60_eastusa_1

(click to clarify and enlarge)

This shows us four inches below normal over the past 60 days, but fails to stress the fact that over the past 25 days we’ve had barely enough to settle the dust. Things will get drier as the polar high over us settles southeast and merges with the Bermuda High. Then winds will swing from northwest to south west, and temperatures will start to climb. They will likely get a little hotter than forecast, with little water in the soil to cool through  evaporation. (I’m not sure the computer models take this into account.)  We could be touching 90° (32.2° Celsius) by midweek. The hot air will get more humid, but the first chance of showers and thunderstorms looks like it will not come before Friday, by which point we will all be getting a bit crispy.


ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Brief Buoy Reports–

The most interesting buoy continues to be O-buoy 9, which had a wide lead of open water appear before its lens during a period of strong winds from the west. This lead swiftly was freezing over.

Duress 3 webcam This process has continued, and the lead appears to be crunching closed. With luck we could watch how open water is transformed into the mini-mountain-range of a pressure ridge.

Obouy 9 20150521 webcam

The reason for the refreezing is that temperatures have steadily remained below -12° C, despite the fact the sun barely sets up there, just off the north coast of Greenland. (To the right, on the horizon of the upper picture,  and to the center, on the horizon of the lower picture, is a persistent object whose persistence proves it isn’t a cloud. It may be a mountain on Greenland, or only a massive iceberg.) The camera is drifting slowly east.

Most of the cold temperatures have shifted over to the Greenland side of the Pole.

DMI2 0521 temp_latest.big

This is occurring as a small but tight low brings a plume of milder air up to the Pole. As that mild air enters cold air exits, partly down towards Hudson Bay, and partly down through Fram Strait and then across the north Atlantic towards Europe. A second storm will move north of Scandinavia and continue the warm imports to the Pole and cold exports to Europe, which will be in for some cold spells. (Their Atlantic air will lack the warmth of the Azores.)

DMI2 0521 mslp_latest.big

It is high time for the Pole to be warmed, for it was actually milder up there more than a month ago. Ordinarily it is rapidly warming at the Pole in May.

DMI2 0521 meanT_2015

Temperatures at the North Pole Camera have been stuck around -10° to -15°, which was “mild” a month ago, but now is below normal. It makes for dull (IE serene) viewing, as nothing much happens except the snow swirls around a bit. Camera 2 showed a few clouds this morning, perhaps because the milder air was starting to push in. (The pressure ridge in the far distance will be interesting to watch, as the summer proceeds.)

NP3 0521 2015cam2_2

However six hours later the situation was bright and clear, as viewed from camera 1.

NP3 0521 2015cam1_2

The cameras are slowly drifting south, and it looks like things will be less exciting than last year, when the ice moved more swiftly and began breaking up. As of 2100z on the 19th the cameras were at 88.186°N 13.934°W. which is further west than usual.

Nothing much happens until June, when the melting becomes apparent. Two years ago a melt-water pool formed in front of the camera, and created such a hubbub that this site went from twenty views a day to five hundred. Every dog has his day, and I think that was mine. The Alarmists were in full cry about the North Pole melting, and I was a bore and pointed out it was just a melt-water pool, and likely would drain away shortly. It then drained away, which made me briefly look like a genius. That doesn’t happen very often, and if you think I didn’t relish the experience, you’re wrong. Here’s a link to that fun post:

I doubt it will happen again, but the fact I’m again sitting here waiting for the ice to melt may indicate I have a secret hope that every dog has two days.

LOCAL VIEW –No Frost; No Fires–

It is a chilly morning, but not as cold as the GFS model threatened. The winds never fully died down, and out on Main Street I could see the Memorial Day flags slowly flapping on the electrical poles before dawn, making waving shadows on the street in the light of the street lights above. There were also some scattered clouds, and radar showed a few scattered sprinkles (not flurries) in the mountains to our north. The coldest temperature I could find in southern New Hampshire was 35° (+1.7° Celsius) in the low flats of Keene, well to our west. It was around 40° (+4.4° Celsius) here.

May 21 Frost gfs_t2m_b_boston_2

(A Dr. Ryan Maue map from Weatherbell. Pink areas represent freezing.)

By tomorrow the storm south of us will grow, but slip out to sea.  The weak storm northwest of us will be drawn into it.

20150521 satsfc

As the storm passes out to sea the rain will once again miss us, staying south over Cape Cod.

May 21 Frost gfs_ptype_slp_boston_7

The northeast winds will be cold, but keep the overnight temperatures less cold.

May 21 Frost gfs_t2m_b_boston_6

But after the storm passes, the back-side winds will drag down another shot of very cold air from the ice-covered waters of Hudson Bay, and I’ll worry about frost again. There’s a chance this might be record-setting cold.

May 21 Frost gfs_t2m_b_boston_10

After that the warmer airs will start to slide in, as west winds replace the north winds. I’ll be able to shift my frost-worries to drought-worries. The first chance of rain looks like it will be Tuesday, as warmer and muggier air pushes a warm front north.

May 21 Frost gfs_ptype_slp_boston_20

It looks like we might even get a half inch, which sure would be nice. Even towards the coast in Boston, which has received coastal rains and snows that missed us, they have had very little water since a drenching in December, and basically nothing in May.

May 21 Frost sn72509_1yr(2)

One odd thing I note this morning is that, despite the chill, not a single chimney in town is puffing smoke. If this was September, and temperatures were first dipping into the thirties, you can bet everyone would be getting into winter-mode, and the first fires of the fall would be cheering hearths. Now, however, no one can bother with such blazes. Everyone knows the sun will be summer-high by mid morning, and so they don’t worry about a bit of chill.

I think I am going to follow their example, and skip worry for the rest of the morning. Outside the chorus of birdsong is like a sheer gushing of noise, an avalanche, a little like someone spilled buckets of glass bottles but none of them broke.

The birds don’t seem all that worried. A small and jaunty bird is pestering a meditative crow that is trying to watch the sunrise, silhouetted atop a tree to the orange east.


LOCAL VIEW –Frost and Fire Warnings–

A secondary cold front slid past today, and temperatures fell despite the bright sun. The wind was gusty and very dry. Despite some talk of big thunderstorms yesterday, the primary front passed without much ruckus, and in all we only got a tenth of an inch of rain. That barely made any puddles, and dried up with somewhat amazing speed. The swift evaporation created a shallow overcast of flat, purple cumulus, and robbed us of our warming sun. As I shuddered in the garden I figured I’d best zip home and see if we are in for a frost.

The map’s isobars seem to show a flow straight down from Hudson bay.

20150520B satsfc

Hudson Bay is still nearly entirely ice-covered.

Hudson Bay May 20 CMMBCTCA

The most recent storm even laid down a swath of snow-cover across Ontario. Most of the smaller lakes are still frozen up there, and there is even a bit of ice left in the easternmost part of Lake Superior, though it is nearly June. No warmth is in winds from up there.

May 20 ims2015139_usa

Usually the fact the foliage is out does something that prevents frost. The leaves exude moisture when the winds die, or some such thing. So usually I’d ignore the GFS-based NWS forecast, which has a frost warning. They tend to be too cold. However it is so bone dry that I’m nervous. The thirsty trees may have less ability to resist frost than usual.

The air temperatures are still up in the mid 50’s, (12.8° Celsius) but the dew point is down to 36°, which reduces the relative humidity to around 30% . That is so dry my skin feels sort of chapped by the wind. New Hampshire has a class three fire danger, which is high. The very afternoon you might like a fire to warm by you’d be a Tom Fool to start one, because the wind could whip across the field into the neighbors yew bushes, and I don’t think they’d like that.

I’m not going to take any chances. I have piles of grass clippings in the garden, from mowing the lawn, and I think I’ll bury my tomato plants in the dry grass, just to be on the safe side. I’d complain about the extra work, but it’s my own fault for trying to get away with putting tomatoes in early. The old-timers are laughing at me from the clouds they sit on, as they never trusted New Hampshire springs, and never bothered much with their gardens until May 31.

Its odd to hear fire dangers and freeze dangers in the same forecast. The only good news is that over at the Weatherbell Site Joseph D’Aleo sees signs the pattern will get wetter next week.  I don’t see a sign of it yet, but here’s to hoping.


This is a continuation of a story that began at:

Part 2 can be found at:

Part 3 can be found at:

Part 4 can be found at:

Part 5 can be found at:

Part 6 can be found at

Part 7 can be found at:

Part 8 can be found at

Part 9 can be found at

Part 10 can be found at

Part 11 can be found at

Part 12 can be found at

NOTE:  Considering I worked on this section during a time that bracketed Mother’s Day, it seems ironic that it involves a certain amount of disparagingly irreverent commentary about mothers and motherhood, by teen aged boys. I cringed at times, as I wrote, for my opinions of motherhood have changed since I was that young, and I now feel a need to make some excuses.

When Sigmund Freud studied the human psyche, he was basing his conclusions upon observations drawn from a society that thought it was at the pinnacle of sophistication, human achievement, and evolution, but actually was doomed. Vienna was the capital of an Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was about to go from being a World Power to vanishing from the map, and faced a future so bleak that the heir to the throne traveled to a ski resort with his girlfriend and, together with her, committed suicide.

Due to the bleakness of what he was observing, Freud’s conclusions were also bleak, and among his bleak conclusions is the general assumption we must have a hidden hatred of our mothers. In fact this goes against a very deep core-principle of the human heart, to some degree expressed by the fundamental commandment: “Thou shall honor thy mother and father.”  It is only in extraordinary circumstances, when a society has become so rancid it is about to self-destruct, that Freud’s conclusions hold true.

I hope I can be forgiven for drawing a parallel between Vienna on the eve of its Destruction, and the suburbs of Boston I describe in this fictional work.


The American “Nig” has returned after a year abroad at a strict school in Scotland, and is writing the South African “Kaff”, using a shorthand the two teenagers devised which allows them to write with the speed of their frenetic thoughts.

Nig has been dismayed by changes that have occurred in the USA while he was away, and at this point is telling Kaff he has decided to make a lot of money selling lyrics for hit songs, and to buy a plot of land he calls “The Party Woods.” He plans to form a commune made up of his boyhood friends, but needs to convince his friends the scheme is possible.

What Nig is attempting to do is to figure out how to “get the gang together”, but his friends have gone in different directions, and the unity which the gang once shone with seems lost. Nig is attempting to end this divorce by being an amazing psychiatrist who can solve all problems with a single session. He imagines he makes progress in the magical atmosphere of the “Party Woods”, but feels that out in the unenlightened world he faces opposition to the unity of a commune..

At this point in Nig’s description he has concluded a discussion with Ham and Franks, who are two brothers who have become ardent communists, and another discussion with his boyhood best-friend Durf, who has lost faith in society and practices a sort of self-centered epicureanism at a commune of his own in the city, an a third discussion out in the Party Woods with his depressed friend “Spook” and his brother “Zooks”,  who are two of the four Lasaumille brothers. They are returning from the woods to the inenlightened world, and in particular the unenlightened Lasaumille brother’s mother.

(The date is July 31, 1971.)


We went into the barn, which Spook’s Dad attached to the house with a roofed walkway with big picture windows along the sides, so he could go to the barn without getting wet or cold. In the barn is the children’s room, which is what Spook’s Mom made of his Dad’s den after she booted him out. I reckon she’s sorry she did it now, cos Spook loaded it with neat stereo equipment and now she always has to tell her boys to turn the music down, cos she can get blasted by it even up in the house. Also I guess the Padlock wants to turn it back into a den again, which may be one more reason she wants her boys to move out. However for the moment it’s still a really neat place, full of happy memories for me.

Spook has a cool collection of music, and I always feel better seeing him sit in there, cos music is good for him. He never seems happier than when he’s sharing some new album, or letting you hear a hit song before it’s a hit. I heard a lot of my favorite albums for the first time, in that barn.

However, even as Spook turned on the first song I heard his Mom yell like she was really angry. He quickly turned the music down, but she wasn’t yelling about that. She was yelling she was getting married in the morning and it was too late to have company, and she was asking who I was. When they said it was me, I could her footsteps coming clipping down the walkway from the house like she really meant business and was going to lay down the law. Spook seemed to cringe, and Zooks’ face took on a very, very patient look, as their Mom came bursting through the door with a real stern face, which then did a really funny double-take.

I think she expected me to be like I was, all pale and scrawny with long frizzy hair, and she wasn’t expecting me to be tan and weigh forty pounds more with short hair. Also my clothes were pretty clean, and not all that damp from the rain.

I stood up politely and walked to her to greet her using all the best manners Mother ever taught me, though I didn’t quite click my heals and kiss her hand when I shook it. I did try to ooze charm, and swab her with ooze like a bucket of slimy eels got dumped over her head.

The funny thing was, it worked. I don’t know, but it sure seems a woman over forty likes being flattered by an eighteen-year-old, once he stops looking like a speed freak. She was so impressed by the change in me she actually blushed, and I couldn’t help but smile, and that made oozing all the easier. I charmed her cotton picking socks right off, and she forgot all about laying down the law and not allowing company after dark in the summer.

We made polite conversation about the usual stuff, and I told the usual lies. I said I wanted to go to college and study journalism, when the truth is I want to write lyrics and skip college.

I noticed as I talked I was trying to make Spook look good, in a way I thought was pretty sly. Like, I said I wanted to get a job like Spook has, and get a car like Spook has, and save up for college like Spook’s doing, but rents were going to make it hard. Even renting just a bedroom in someone else’s house is up to $25.00 a week, so I want to rent a place and divide the rent up with friends like Spook to make things cheaper.

The whole time I’m saying this stuff I’m watching her face and calculating what is getting across. I figured she’d be wicked glad to hear Spook was even considering getting off his ass and moving out, but I didn’t actually say that. I said friends like Spook. So I didn’t actually lie, but I gave her a sort of false impression. In any case she decided maybe she didn’t want to interrupt our talk, and maybe it was OK if I visited after dark in the summer.

After she left Zooks was all chuckles, and said he was wicked impressed by how I wrapped her around my finger. I said it was amazing what a haircut could do. Spook got grumpy about his Mom only looking at superficial stuff, and started to go on about how haircuts shouldn’t matter. I sort of got fearful he was going to slide back into the dark, so I told him it wasn’t just the haircut. I put on forty pounds at Dunrobin, and got a lot healthier once I got away from speed, and health really does matter. Spook looked thoughtful, and said he’d been totally off drugs for two months last winter, and didn’t feel much better. In fact he thought he felt worse.

This got us back to talking about Audley Bine’s commune, cos Zooks said Spook only quit drugs cos Audley suddenly said drugs weren’t allowed any more because some new Baba said so. I said that was mighty odd, considering when I met Audley the summer before he twisted my arm to not quit, and instead to try the best hashish, in a beautiful inlayed pipe of turquoise and silver from Nepal, (or was it Kashmir?)

Spook said that was just like Audley, always convincing, always correct, and always in style. Zooks said styles must’ve really changed, cos Audley had totally flip-flopped. He was still trying to convince everyone to get high, but now it was to get high naturally, by doing that Kundalini Yoga stuff. A few kids always got suckered into giving it a try, cos Yoga is free, and back then it was still winter and kids couldn’t go lounge around on the town green, and Aufley’s commune was warm. Until the weather got warmer it was worth doing some dumb Yoga to sit about there, but the music at the commune sure did get old.

I asked why, and Spook said Audley played George Harrison’s album, “My Sweet Lord,” over and over and over again. It gave the place a sort of spiritual feel, but after hearing the songs a couple of hundred times he got sick of it. And when he tried to meditate he never got cosmic consciousness and instead saw a lot of unspiritual stuff in his imagination, like hot sluts, or gangsters with guns. Then Motey stopped coming, and all the work he did coming up with the rent hardly seemed worth it any more, and then other money problems made the commune get more and more uncomfortable. Audley even wanted to charge people just for visiting, at the end.

I said its always the same damn thing. It’s the money that wrecks everything. I told them about the coffee-can by Durf’s telephone in Boston, and how you couldn’t even make a phone call there without a downer spoiling the high. I said people shouldn’t be allowed to get high unless they promised to stick to the high stuff like generosity, and to stay clear of the low stuff like greed. I said that at my commune we’re going to get all the money crap clear right at the start, and have it done with, before we ever even smoke a joint. Otherwise things get worse and not better.

They seemed to like it that I was so definite and certain about the commune. Zooks was lounging on a sofa, really relaxed and comfortable as usual, but what I noticed most was that Spook didn’t look spooked. He didn’t exactly look relaxed, cos he was fussing with the dials to get the music’s balance and tone just right, but he was smiling, and I was real glad to see that.

Suddenly he sat bolt upright, a really fearful look on his face, and Zooks looked over towards the back of the barn as well. I hadn’t noticed anything, but Spook went rushing to the back window to look out. Then he turned around with a big smile of relief, and said, “It’s Zeck and Duke. They’ve already got it in.” Then he opened the window and called something down into the darkness, and it was only then that I heard Spook’s old Rambler’s engine running.

He shut the window and came back, and it looked like all the weight of the world had come off his shoulders. Duke and Zeck came up around the side and in through the door, wearing big smiles cos they had done a good deed for their little brother, and also cos the coil was cheaper than they’d expected. Lastly, it turned out the suit rental-fee had gone up, so they hadn’t rented suits for their Mom’s wedding, which meant the four had to have a sort of emergency powwow.

From what I could hear from across the room a sort of Stinedu was happening, because it turned out none of them had wanted to rent the damn tuxedos in the first place, but no one had dared say so. I’d thought it was odd myself, cos the Lasaumille’s are pretty sharp dressers, especially Duke, though of course everyone’s a sharp dresser, compared to me. But I guess they figured their sport coats were too sporty for a wedding, or something, and they should rent drab, black coats, until they saw how much the rent had gone up. Now suddenly purple corduroy didn’t seem so bad. Zeke said, in his mild, quiet voice, that all they had to figure out now was: Who was going to run the idea of corduroy suits by their mother? They all flashed big white smiles, and then Duke blustered that if their Mom didn’t like corduroy, she could pay the rentals for tuxedos. Then Zeck took out a wad of cash and got busy handing everyone their money back, and they were all real attentive. I noticed that when Zeck handed Spook a twenty he gave him a wink. Again Spook looked really relieved.

Again I was struck by how stupid and simple the problems were. Spook didn’t have wheels, and now he did. Spook had to snitch a twenty from his Mom, but now he could slip the twenty back in her purse. If money can’t buy happiness, how can chump change make the difference between being totally bummed out and high? It’s a joke, but most don’t get the joke. Maybe Beethoven did, when he wrote the thing Halsey was playing the other night called, “Rage Over A Lost Penny.” But most are all too serious, until the piddlely problem’s solved. It’s like a stupid penny makes the difference between joy and gloom.

I wanted to say what I was seeing, but, as I watched the four brothers talking and laughing together, it seemed pointless to ruin their joy over having solved problems by calling their problems piddlely. The stereo was playing that part of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that goes, “We have all been here before,” and I was having that Deja Vu feeling really strongly. I felt wicked high, like I was standing up on a mountain and looking across the ages at the four brothers.

The best part was that the darkness seemed defeated. Spook looked totally different from how he’d looked earlier, when he seemed so high strung it was like the strings were all going to start breaking with loud twangs. Now he seemed like Mister Mellow.

It seemed a good time to go home, so I did. As I walked through the night, hearing the night breeze shake the last raindrops from the leaves, I had this strong feeling of well being come down on me, and seemed to see the road ahead really clearly.

I was only half-joking when I kidded to Zooks that English kids get brainwashed by Shakespeare. What you put in you head does matter. Here in America there‘s a place I call the Mad Ave, where these perverted poets are always trying to figure out how to write jingles that brainwash people into buying crap, and you can‘t watch a show on TV in America without all this inane drivel about how you should be ashamed to have a dirty collar, or an old car. But as I walked I could see how much better it would be if poets put the light into people’s heads, and if the stuff people watched was full of truth, peace, beauty, joy and love. And I felt a real certainty that‘s what my job is. That‘s what I’ve got to do.