ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Thaw Resumes–

I need to retreat to my sea-ice. It’s been hotter than blue blazes here in New Hampshire, and dry as a bone, and yet I’ve been trying to hustle. Not the smartest thing to do, when you are sixty-three. On one hand I’ve cursed every cigarette I ever smoked, and on the other I’ve been wishing I didn’t quit and craving a carton. In the meantime I’ve huffed and puffed, moving at a snail’s pace in ninety-degree heat, trying to make a dirty, old, hardscrabble farm look elegant, romantic, and like a place befitting a wedding. Fat chance. However we will arrive at some sort of compromise.  After all, if you insist on having a wedding at a farm, you should include the manure.  Romantics always forget the manure. For example, Christ was born in a manger, but how many Christmas cards have you ever seen that include the manure?

If you detect a bit of crabbiness in my attitude you are perceptive and correct. I’m ashamed of myself, but grumpiness wells up in me like lava in a volcano. Obviously I need cool, cool sea-ice, and lots of it.

Therefore, as I have done a mediocre job of fulfilling all my worldly responsibility, (on a bleeping Saturday, which other people get off), I am going to sit down after dark and catch up on the images from the arctic.

There is nothing nicer than forgetting all your problems (and politics) and watching sea-ice the way you watch clouds. Unfortunately politicians intrude, in the same way my Algebra teacher used to intrude upon my study of the meteorology of cumulus. But good old Miss Zelinka, God rest her soul, at least could teach me some math. Politicians teach nothing but how to puff and flounce and lie and, unfortunately, how to bluster and even threaten.

I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t fund the North Pole Camera this year. I assume they got no bang for their buck. Rather than supporting their narrative about Global Warming it made them look like complete idiots. Rather than getting the obvious hint, perhaps they decided to de-fund the camera.

When my suspicions creep dangerously close to the borders of paranoia, I wonder if they instructed the Coast Guard to place all the O-buoys in places where they would be destroyed, this year. (It likely is definite paranoia to wonder if the president and Hillary sent drones to blow the O-buoys up.) In any case, the buoys were badly placed, and by all rights we should not even have a O-buoy 14, for it did it’s best to self destruct last fall.

Here is the view on October 23. Observe how far away the central gadget is. Obuoy 14 1022 webcamOn October 25 trouble appears.

Obuoy 14 1025B webcam

By October 27 bad has come to worse.

Obuoy 14 1027C webcam

And by Halloween it doesn’t look likely our camera will survive. The Mass Balance Buoy in the right foreground is trashed, and the buoy that was distant in the center has been crushed forward practically in our lap. Even the horizon is tilted.

Obuoy 14 1031 webcam

At this point I imagine some political hack in Washington was going, “Nyah ha ha. I knew that if I appointed Cousin Nerdwick, as captain of an icebreaker, I could depend on him to place all the O-buoys in the most stupid places imaginable. He’s too lazy to locate a thicker floe of multi-year ice, and instead placed the buoys on the thinnest baby-ice, and by accident, dope that he is,  made quite sure to break the ice near the buoy with the wake of his icebreaker.”

I could be wrong. Perhaps it was simply a dramatic year, with many storms. Cold air drove very far south in Mexico, in Vietnam, and in Kuwait, even as above freezing temperatures were sucked north to the Pole at Christmas. (Of course, the idiotically-biased media did not report the cold waves, and instead only reported Santa’s misery over melting at the Pole on Christmas. )

I did not expect O-buoy 14 could possibly survive, yet amazingly it did. Then I didn’t expect the ice it was on to survive the smashing and crashing that has been going on north of Alaska since April, but it has. I imagine some political hack in Washington is gnashing his teeth and rending his garment.

(I could be wrong about this as well, but it does make me smile to imagine it.)

In any case, here it is the end of July, and the buoy miraculously still survives, tilted horizon and all. Despite being down south of latitude 77 degrees, the yearly thaw, which seemed well underway the first half of July, came to an abrupt halt as everything refroze, due to a storm I dubbed “Ralph.”  Among other dynamics, the very winds pushing our buoy south were from the north and therefore not south winds gentled by a baked tundra and mild Pacific. However when the buoy began to head north, we knew the winds had turned south.

Obuoy 14 0730 latitude-1week

And indeed we did see the freezing stop and thawing resume

Obuoy 14 0730 temperature-1week

And we can sit back and meditate on the slow melting of ice.

JULY 22. We begin in bitter cold. Pay attention to the bottom of the black and yellow buoy to the right, sitting on the refrozen ice. Obuoy 14 0722 webcam

On JULY 24 we see a slight thaw, but then another frigid blast dusts the ice with snow.Obuoy 14 0724 webcam

Obuoy 14 0724C webcam

Obuoy 14 0724D webcam

On JULY 25 we see something we have seen little of. Sunshine. For all the talk of “albedo” there has been little opportunity for the sun to show its power. Now we see it. Despite subfreezing temperatures, melting is starting, and the black and yellow buoy to the right is tilting the slightest bit. Obuoy 14 0725 webcam

When the mild air returned with the wind-shift to the south, the clouds returned. By July 27 open water can be seen along the horizon, for we are upon a floe that moved south, with the bergs spreading apart and the ice dispersing. The very bottom of the black and yellow buoy is hidden by water. Wet snow is falling, or I assume it is snow for a flake seems to obscure the lens in two pictures taken an hour apart

Obuoy 14 0727 webcam

Obuoy 14 0725B webcam

On July 28 even more of the base of the buoy is hidden by water I think is growing deeper, for by referring to other objects the yellow and black buoy does not seem to be significantly rising or falling. (It may be sinking very slightly.) Open water is now seen to the right, on the horizon.

Obuoy 14 0727C webcam

Obuoy 14 0728 webcam

On July 29 the melt-water may have lowered slightly. There seems to be a rivulet running off to the right, or perhaps approaching from the right. Another may be partially hidden, moving off to the left. Perhaps a third rivulet cuts to the bottom left corner. 

These melt-water streams are interesting, when viewed from the air. At first they run to a sort of lake, on top of the ice. Then, when the lake finds a drain, all the streams run to that spot, like roots to the trunk of a tree. 

A few years back I looked wise, as the media was making a hubbub about “Lake North Pole”and how it showed the Pole was melting, but I said it was a pool that would drain downwards, and it did. However last year I looked less wise, for I was waiting for one pool to drain, when it already extended through the ice to the ocean beneath, and the water in the pool was not melt-water but seawater.

Therefore I am being more careful this year, but the picture below does seem to show the water has run off or drained down slightly. 

Obuoy 14 0728B webcam

Then today, July 30, began with rain and a snow-eater fog, and the water is definitely rising again. If the water was running off to a melt-water pool, then that pool is full and the water is backing up. I’m sort of hoping we may see a new “Lake North Pole”, and I might even seem wise again.

Obuoy 14 0730 webcam

Obuoy 14 0730B webcam

Obuoy 14 0730C webcam

However one seldom looks wise for long, when dealing with sea-ice. For example, Alarmists were happy the above camera was heading south and seemed to be among ice that was dispersing, but the camera only showed bitter cold north winds, and all the slush and melt-water refreezing, which made Alarmists sad. Then the winds turned south, and they were happy to see melting, but now the open water we had seen along the horizon is gone, likely because the floe we are on has headed back north and is bumping back against other floes. So Alarmists are likely sad about the ice condensing rather than dispersing.

Even more ironic is the fact that this camera is reporting from an area north of Alaska and Northwest Canada that has seen much less ice than ordinary this year. Considering O-buoy 14 shouldn’t even exist, and should have been crushed last Halloween, it almost is as if this camera is cruel and is taunting Alarmists. Call it a “syndrome” related to “The Al Gore Effect.”

Even more ironic was the fact that the entire coast of Alaska was clear of ice due to polynyas formed by south winds, except for, due to some cruel and perverse side of meteorology, a skinny little tongue of ice that stuck down to Barrow. This allowed Skeptics to be terrible party-poopers. Whenever Alarmists tried to celebrate how little ice was in Beaufort Sea this summer, snide Skeptics would just post a picture of ice-clogged waters shown by the Barrow webcam.

At long last that ice is gone, and the Barrow web-cam now shows open waters.

Barrow webcam July 30 08_37_06_304_ABCam_20160728_163500

It is a cloudy picture, as usual. They did have a bit of a sunny spell a few days ago, but I feel like an old coot when I say, “It isn’t as sunny as it used to be.” But that is my impression.

Maybe it is because, with few cameras, I am more dependent on the satellite views, yet when I try to look down from above more often than not what I want to see is obscured by clouds.

This has been especially true of the Siberian side. All the ice pushed away from the coast of Alaska had to go somewhere, but the crunching of that cross-polar ice was the demise of O-buoy 8b and 15. I keep the slender hope they might reestablish contact with those buoys, because they would have a tale to tell, and would be positioned on the Siberian side.  As it is we have only unreliable satellite maps, which seem to be increasingly underfunded and unavailable. (For example, I can’t access any NRL maps tonight.) However the maps we can access do show more ice pushed against Siberian shores than was there during the low-ice-year of 2007.


Why is it the government, with all the tax-payer money spent on O-buoys, Mass Balance Buoys, and satellites, is completely inept, when it comes to giving me information about the Siberian side?

Why is it I must turn to private citizens, aboard the boat “Northabout”?

(It doesn’t matter that the sailors on that boat may be Alarmists and even avowed Leftists who believe in a cradle-to-grave nanny-state,  they are behaving like crazy free spirits out on the wild, blue sea. And they are sharing more data than the government, for much less.)

They are cruising east along the north coast of Russia, and have given us some pictures of their first contact with sea-ice, as they approach Severnaya Zemyla.

Northabout 4 Screen-Shot-2016-07-30-at-14.04.26-600x470.png

Northabout 5 IMG_3337-600x400

I have been known to mock Alarmists, but usually I am mocking people who live in a bubble, and who care more for computer models and virtual reality than for real people on the street or out on the farms. However I will not mock people actually out “conducting a field study”.

Northabout 6 IMG_3339-600x400

These folk are not on any sort of luxury cruise. I think we should drop politics and wish them well. Perhaps even pray.

Even though they are idealists full of Alarmist ideas, they are out there, face to face with Truth. They may even be making a fellow in Washington gnash his teeth and rend his garment.

In my imagination I picture a Beltway fellow who would not fund the North Pole Camera, because he felt that Truth was not helpful to his political agenda. But now along comes this boat, the “Northabout”, showing us exactly what I imagine this Beltway fellow didn’t want us to see.

I’ll leave it at that.

However I will note that the crew of the Northabout mention how gray it is on the Siberian side, and how little sun they have seen. (Good time to blame Svenmark’s cosmic rays and the “Quiet Sun”.)

(The various incarnations of the storm I dubbed “Ralph” continue to be interesting, but those maps will have to wait for another post.)





ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph Resists–

I’ve been trying to explain to my wife that when the weather gets blazing hot the thing to do is to get chores done quickly, and then to retreat indoors and gaze at pictures of arctic sea-ice. This isn’t going over too well, as one “chore” is my son’s wedding.

I don’t see why women can’t be reasonable about these things. The whole ceremony could be over in fifteen minutes, with a minimum of fuss and bother, and could be done at a church in the cool of the day. But noooo. She (and my son) have to plan it at the farm in the blazing sun, and have to invite 180 people.

Some people don’t understand what is really important in life. I try to explain that bergs bobbing about up where nobody lives are of vital importance, and upon them hinge the fate of the entire planet, but all I get is a bunch of funny looks.

In any case, I’ll have to be brief.

The latest reincarnation of “Ralph” has been surprisingly persistent, drifting east along the north coast of Siberia. Very little changed between July 22 and July 24, except Ralph pulled up more reinforcements from the south, while sucking cold air in from the north. (If I was into detail I’d likely have numerous different names for Ralph, as he sucks in small lows, some of which take over as the center and some which don’t. But this would take a lot of concentration and irritate my wife, who thinks I should concentrate on weddings.)

The winds around Ralph are pushing ice back towards the coast of Asia by the 24th. In my last post the high pressure towards Canada was dubbed Ridgeway and the one toward Scandinavia is Ridgeway 2. In theory the lows should circle a polar high, but Ridgeway seems to circle Ralph in the next maps, merging in with Ridgeway 2…but keep an eye on the spoke of low pressure between the two highs. It is R10, the next major reinforcement to Ralph. By the final map it is a low on the south coast of the Kara Sea.

Models show R10 doing a Fujiwhara dance with Ralph (and you know the survivor will be called Ralph no matter what). Some models show Ridgeway trying to squeeze between them and keep them apart,  and some show them  combining and that the reinvigorated  Ralph could become fairly large, down to 975 mb, as it drifts across to Canada.

A reinvigorated Ralph will cause wild excitement in the sea-ice-watcher world, as the summer storm in 2012 melted a lot of ice very swiftly. I doubt we will see a repeat, as we seem to be witnessing the infinite variety of a fabulous creation, and seeing something we’ve never seen before.

If a summer gale occurs it will test some of my ideas. One is that it was so stormy last winter, with the ice breaking up so much, that the water under the ice is far less stratified than 2007, (or even last summer, towards East Siberia), and therefore there is less warm water lurking down thirty feet or so that can be churned up to melt ice. Also the ice simply is thicker towards Asia, as is seen in this cool graphic created by Tony Heller.


The long thin island sticking north from Russia is Novaya Zemyla (an extention of the Ural Mountains) and form the west side of the Kara Sea. The ice starts at the next group of coastal islands, which are called Severnaya Zemyla, and are the east side of the Kara Sea. We will be watching that ice, as it is blocking the adventurers attempting the Northeast Passage aboard the Northabout. They have been tacking to and fro north of Novaya Zemyla, avoiding the strong breezes to the west of Ralph.

Northabout 0726 Screen-Shot-2016-07-26-at-20.36.43-600x486

What they need is some south winds at Severnaya Zemyla to push the ice away from the coast, and then they will attempt to squeeze though hoping north winds don’t bring the ice clamping back. It is going to take some gutsy sailing, and the captain could use some prayers, as he has women and children aboard. So far he hasn’t even seen any sea-ice, but once he gets further east he will be our firsthand reporter on the scene.

My one other comment is that the above DMI maps show Ralph seems to be creating a fair number of patches of sub-freezing air, right in the middle of the summer thaw, which is something I noticed last summer too.

I’ll comment more later, with the pictures from O-buoy 14, which seems to show a pause in the summer thaw. But now I must run.



Remove air conditioning from all US State Department property.

John Kerry, Airconditioners, ISIS

WHEREAS, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has suggested that air conditioners are as big a threat as ISIS, and

WHEREAS, it is the duty of our elected and appointed government officials to lead by example,

THEREFORE, we call upon the U.S. Department of State to remove air conditioning from all property that the Department owns, rents, or otherwise employs, including but not limited to embassies, consulates, office buildings, etc., all vehicles owned and/or operated by the Department, and any other property, real or movable, owned, rented, or otherwise employed by the Department.

You can sign the petition here:

Above layout for Petition lifted from Jo Nova’s site here:

Just for your general information, the average household uses 911 KWH per Month.  In Washington DC, the average non-household structure (and this includes Mom and Pop stores that bring the average down) use 26,919 KWH per Month.

We pay for our own households. We also pay for the offices in Washington.

Even though this petition won’t lead to the President experiencing the conditions Jefferson experienced, the very idea of this petition might make a few people in Washington pause briefly, look out the window at temperatures around a hundred this week, and think a bit more deeply than usual.

So far 2,850 people have signed this petition. Please pass it on. I hope it goes viral.

I am tired of cringing when I read John Kerry has made another of these ridiculous statements. I don’t believe for a second he believes what he says. It doesn’t take all that much research  to understand the complexity of the Climate, and the grave doubts true scientists have that CO2 has more than a minor effect, and also about whether warming would be harmful or beneficial.

Even if Kerry has no  time for such research, he has advisers that do, and he surely is well aware of the reality. Therefore, when he makes statements such as the above statement, he is aware it is not only political grandstanding, but is a distortion and is dishonest. It is this dishonesty that I find most embarrassing, and causes me to feel Kerry, the President, and others who perpetuate this political grandstanding need to be embarrassed right back.


The petition is over 7000 now, seven hours later.



One of the more fascinating events that occur nearly every summer is the “creation” of a cold spell at the Pole, though I suppose the cold isn’t “created”, but rather heat is somehow lost. This always fills me with wonder, because it doesn’t seem possible. The sun never sets, and keeps beaming and beaming and beaming, and I even have my little charts that show that, during these few weeks when the sun is highest above the horizon, the Pole has a net gain of heat. Therefore where can the cold possibly come from? (Or, if you insist, where does the heat get lost?)

Any other place on the planet you can point to some other colder place, and say the cold comes from there. Usually it is to the north, but sometimes it is from cold waters or cold snowpack or icecap that lies nearby. However the Pole is different, and it’s hard to blame the other guy. In fact during the summer the Arctic Sea is surrounded by all sorts of sun-baked tundra that at times can make even the swarms of mosquitoes wilt in the heat. You can’t blame the tundra for exporting cold northwards. You can’t really even blame the the icecap of Greenland, because when air has unloaded its moisture up over 10,000 feet and descends it undergoes adiabatic heating and becomes a warm Chinook. So who do you blame for the appearance of sub-freezing temperatures? The Pole can’t blame anyone, and is sort of like Harry Truman, “The Buck Stops Here.”

At one point I thought I was very clever, and explained it as being due to an effect like a summer thundershower. The heat went up and cold came down. I thought I was rather erudite, but there happened to be some fellow who had worked at NOAA commenting at the same website, and in very short order he handed me my posterior on a platter. He explained that as the heat goes up it gets colder and colder, and the tops of clouds were so cold they had no heat left to lose.He even had data from kazillion dollar satellites to back him up. I did my best to retreat graciously, genuflecting respectfully, but could not resist a single snide comment. It was something along the lines of, “I’ll be sure to inform my pepper plants there is no cooling next time they experience going from baking in heat over a hundred to sulking midst hailstones. They’ll be glad to learn there’s no cooling.”

That was a very rude thing to do, but I do wonder at times about whether rain and hail bypass the rules of adiabatic heating, as they fall, and what sort of complexity this adds to the equations used in computer modeling. I have no answer. But the fun is in the wondering.

I am certain young scientists at universities still wonder in this way, when the idiots higher-up aren’t telling them what to think, and what is allowed, and what the politicians will smile at and throw funding at. The old think they are being pragmatic and realistic, when they stress that one must kowtow to political correctness to gain a grant, but the young prefer a reality that is realer, called scientific truth. They are naive and idealistic, and still believe things that old, embittered professors can’t bother with, and, when the professors are not looking, the young dare to wonder. All over the world, in all universities, such starry-eyed conversations are occurring, and I’d give an eye-tooth to be a fly on the ceiling, for it is there the true wonder of Truth is discussed.

However, because such thinking isn’t politically correct it doesn’t get published, and I pretty much have to do my wondering alone. Only on the web do you meet other oddballs who don’t have a chance to get a grant or earn a living by kowtowing, and therefore seek Truth for no other reason than it is wonderful, and beautiful.

In any case, it got cold at the Pole. Pay attention to the areas below freezing as I go through the maps.

When we last looked a low I dubbed “Ralph” was weakening, reversing the clockwise motion of ice over Beaufort Gyre with its counter-clockwise winds. Ralph had persisted over the Pole, one way or another, reinforced by various pulses of mild, rising air I dubbed R1, R2, and so on. Another low I called “Scandy” had gotten stuck over Scandinavia, and made folk there grumpy, and between Ralph and Scandy a ridge of high pressure I named “Ridgeway” came and went.

To my eyes it looked like the next reinforcement of Ralph, R9,  would come from Siberia, but the models suggested I was wrong.

The models were right. The Siberian low stayed in Siberia, as Ridgeway built over the Pole and kept Ralph from getting reinforcements from Siberia, so he turned to Canada, and the real R9 came up through Hudson Bay. On July 19 it seemed to me that the Ralph-R9 combo was so strong that it not only swiveled Ridgeway north to the Pole, but made Scandinavians weep for joy, as Scandy finally, finally headed north and let high pressure creep into Norway. Also below-freezing temperatures appeared over the Pole.

On July 20 the swiveling continued. I missed the afternoon map, which is handy, for it is just then that Ralph swung over Greenland and, using a process I call “morphistication”, sent his energy, like a Pacific storm over the Rocky Mountains towards a weak low coming up from the Gulf of Mexico, into Scandy, who henceforth will be called “Ralph.” (Stop screaming. This is my blog, and if I want to keep Ralph alive, it is my business.)

It is an interesting aside to note that the persistence of the weak Siberian low kept the sea-ice from being blown off-shore in the Laptev Sea at this time.

On July 21 Ralph gets his act together yet again. Ridgeway has built towards Bering Straight, and you might think Ralph would circle the high pressure, heading down into Siberia, but Ralph is the boss, and he heads north instead. Behind Ralph Ridgeway2 is building over Scandinavia, and Scandinavian’s hair, which had been turning brown, is getting blond again in sweet sunshine. However Scandy2 lurks over Iceland.

Today, July 22, we see Ralph looping but staying strong. He is sucking warm air north and sub-freezing air south. Models suggest his next loop will bring him north to the Pole, as Ridgeway fades and Ridgeway2 pushes north from Scandinavia and Swedish blonds worry about Scandy2 moving up from the Atlantic to end their sunny spell.

It is very interesting to me that (though some may say I cheat by having the low always be named “Ralph”) low pressure keeps winding up over the Pole. But I am also interested by the appearance of sub-freezing temperatures. A few weeks ago there were hardly any pockets of sub-freezing, and even though the DMI graph has shown temperatures “below normal”, the average is “above freezing.”

DMI3 0722 meanT_2016

The above graph would suggest melting has continued, despite the recent cold spell, but the above graph measures air six feet above the ice. The blogger “ren” alerted me to a different DMI map that shows temperatures right at the surface. Six feet down, at the surface, no temperatures are above freezing.

DMI3 0718 icetemp.arc.d-00

The problem with this map is that it does not tell us if we are looking at ice, at the freezing point, or water, at the freezing point. It cannot differentiate between ice and a melt-water pool. This is why we need cameras.

The only camera we have is O-buoy 14, and it definitely saw a pause in the surface melt. (Forgive me if I bore you with so many pictures, but they have been beautiful the past week, and that was the whole reason I started these sea-ice blogs.)

Obuoy 14 0718 webcam

Obuoy 14 0719 webcam

Obuoy 14 0719B webcam

Obuoy 14 0721B webcam

Obuoy 14 0722 webcam

What causes me wonder about these pictures is that, at the height of the surface-melt season, I see so little melt. The unseasonable hoarfrost did melt off the right side of the larger, yellow buoy to the left, but usually we see a sort of urban-heat-island-effect make these buoys melt a pool around their base, but it isn’t happening. For a summer when we are suppose to be seeing the lagged effect of a warm El Nino, our lone camera is seeing little, so far.

Not that we won’t see it happen soon. The DMI records show a few summer-like thaws occurring even when the sun gets low and the “green line” on the above graph starts to plunge below freezing; in one case, 1979,, the summer thaw lasted roughly two weeks later than usual.

DMI meanT_1979

But you have to search pretty hard through the graphs, (which go back to 1958), to find exceptions to the rule. As a rule the red line sticks close to the green line in the summer. In other words, we have one chance to melt the ice, and if we blow it, we blow it.

In fact, when I consult my notes, we are close to the end of the brief period when the arctic is gaining more energy than it loses. The days are getting shorter, even though the heat waves may continue further south. The sun is lower, and this is a very big thing in the Arctic. It is looking to me like we have blown our chance once again.

In fact, if you look back through my posts, you will notice I ever since I began in 2013 I’ve been griping “it ain’t like it used to be.”  I feel like a fossil, always saying how “back in the day” I used to walk to school, uphill, both ways. However I am sorry I didn’t start this blog “back in the day”, for it seems we used to get a far better melt, and more melt-water pools, and slush you needed hip-waders to cross.

I have no idea why it “ain’t like it used to be.”  I wonder about stuff, such as the “Quiet Sun”, but that is just surmising. In terms of facts, all I can say is that I expect the slush to fill the scene we see from O-buoy 14, and that I am surprised to see refreezing.

It seems fairly obvious that the infinitesimal increase in CO2 in the air isn’t warming the ice. What is influencing the ice isn’t heat from above. It is heat from below, which involves waters that take a thousand years to move from the equator to the Pole, and involves the CO2 levels of a thousand years ago.

If you squint into the distance of the the above pictures you can see some open water. O-buoy 14 was shoved  swiftly south of 77 degrees north by Ralph and the following Ridgeway, and rather than among sea-ice that is crunched together is among sea-ice that is spreading apart. Considering how far south we are, we should expect this ice to break apart any day. But it will not be due to warming, but due to winds that have been colder than normal, and, surprisingly often, below freezing:

Obuoy 14 0722 temperature-1week

To return to an earlier topic, I do not see how sub-freezing temperatures are even possible. I would like to play around with ideas where I see the Pole as an area of stagnation, and lows like Ralph and Scandy as summer thundershowers on a summer afternoon’s radar map.  There does seem to be some vauge similarity in the updrafts and downdrafts involved. To me it seems a fertile field to research.

However to talk in such a manner is to pretend we are rational and reasonable people, in awe of the wonder created by our Creator, and are not a bunch of screeching lunatics driven mad by whack-jobs who care more for a thing called “politics” than Truth.

Because the latter seems to be the case, and because some stated the sea-ice would achieve record lows this summer and give them the right to boss me about, I suppose I should include this graph, which shows we are close to where we were last year.

DMI3 0722 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

I should also record the thickness of the ice on July 22:

Thickness 20160722 arcticictnnowcast

That does not look like an ice-free Pole to me. It is important for the ice to be gone by now, for now the sun is high and can warm the water, where the “albedo” of white ice would reflect the sunlight. If the ice waits until September to be gone it is too late. By then the sun is so low in the arctic that open water actually reflects more sunlight than slushy, dirty ice would.

The fact the sea-ice is not gone by now pokes a hole in a reason to raise my taxes, and hit me with regulations that disallow me cutting 15-year-old, biscuit-wood trees I have grown on my own property to fuel my own fires. (Sorry to go all political on you.)

But let us just compare the thickness this year, after the warmest year evah, and the warmest El Nino evah, with last year’s thickness, before this “unprecedented” warming took place. (2015 to the left, 2016 to the right.)

If you seek to be alarmed, you will note much less yellow towards Alaska and Canada, but I think that is because a lot less sea-ice was moved by cross-polar-flow from Siberia. A lot more ice is along the Siberian shores.

In order to raise taxes, a lot of that ice along Siberian shores must melt in the next 45 days. The melt will not come from above, due to reasons I’ve gone over in this post, and therefore it must come from below. I don’t think it is likely to happen, for I have reasons to believe these NRL maps  “see” ice as being thinner than it in fact is, (which I have explained in prior posts.)

Fortunately we don’t have to rely on NRL estimates gleaned from satellites stationed high above the earth, for we have some gutsy sailors who decided to make the northeast passage along the north coast of Russia this summer. I assume they trusted in the 2015 map of ice-conditions along the Russian coast, and fear they may run into a problem or two when they are confronted by 2016 conditions. But we shall see what we shall see, providing they report honestly.



First, superficial but fun.


Compliments of Tony Heller

Second, the speech I liked most,

The words that really made me think, in Laura’s speech were aimed at politicians and pundits at 13:45, and were, “We’re not the enemy; we’re the people. We’re not your servants. You’re ours.”

This resonated because I really have felt on the defensive for so many years I’ve lost count.  Yet I really have done a lot of good things in my life and, despite all my flaws, have been a fairly nice guy.  However some simply attack.  For example, if you hold a door open for a woman carrying two bags of groceries, she may glare at you and call you a chauvinist pig.

Or, if you point out the sea-ice isn’t melting away as forecast,  you get called a “Denier”.

This sort of treatment simply gets old, after three or four decades.  Eventually there is “push-back”, and I think that is what has given Donald Trump his power.

LOCAL VIEW –The Underground Bugs–

I’ve always been a member of the underground, and the underground bugs people who believe you should be up front and honest, and step forward to be shot at.  About the only time I “came out” in any way, shape or form was in 1969, and that wasn’t really my doing. I was not at all cool in my school, being rather shaggy and unkempt, but suddenly that was in style, and to my amazement people were abruptly looking up to me as some sort of authority on coolness. It didn’t last long. Before I could really settle into the novel experience of being in-fashion, Disco came along, and I was back to being an outcast.

I don’t really see how people find the time to be fashionable. There are much better things to think about, and too little time to think about them. So I have tended to go my own way, disinterested in fashion, and far more interested in this thing called “Truth”.

Many fashionable people don’t want to hear the Truth, preferring  stuff they find snazzier, and therefore Truth gets relegated to their subconscious, and if they want to get at the Truth they have to hire a psuedoscientist psychologist. I had better things to do with my money, (and anyway, back in the 1970’s when I fooled about with such things, I tended to cause psychologists nervous breakdowns by telling them the Truth about psychology).

Years have past, and I’ve become a grouchy old man who wanders an inner world others avoid, and I’ve discovered that this underground bugs people. For example, people say you should be up front and honest, but when I have told the Truth about Global Warming I am told I am a “Denier” and should zip my lip. I don’t. One of the prerogatives of being a grouchy old man is that you don’t have to be as shy and reclusive as a young poet must be, and you are allowed to be a royal pain, and heck if I am going to give up that right.

In any case, it is likely for this reason I identify with underground bugs, especially when they go to the top of a tree and scream at the top of their lungs. We had a bunch of these “come out” yesterday, as little brown crawly things that scrabbled slowly up the sides of trees, and then cracked their backs. Not only did they come out of the dirt and darkness, but they came out of their old selves.

Cicada 1 FullSizeRender

That bunched-up thing to the side is a wing, and the first order of business for this bug, called a “cicada”, is to pump up that wing so it works.

Cicada 2 FullSizeRender

The kids at our Farm-childcare were not entirely impressed by this wonder, and some found it pretty gross.Cicada 3 IMG_3562

However I myself found it a wonder, and also a handy symbol; IE:  If you come out of the dirt and darkness into the Truth and Light you discover you have wings.

Cicada 4 FullSizeRender

This means you have to leave the dirt and darkness and the husk of your old self behind. Unfortunately back in 1969 hippies like myself didn’t get this part quite right. We felt being open and honest meant plunging into lust and drugs and greed, and made a mess of things by remaining with the old husk.

Cicada 6 FullSizeRender

Not that joy wasn’t involved, and being depraved wasn’t such fun that, if I was young again, I might not be tempted to make the same mistakes all over again. But even insects know enough to leave the husk behind.

Cicada 7 FullSizeRender

They fly to the tree tops and sing a song that contributes to the sheer sizzle of summer.  And we? What do we have in hand? The mere husk of life?

Cicada 8 IMG_3564

Besides the emergence of cicadas being an interesting tidbit of science, the underground bugs also demonstrates how I can take a symbol and run with it. Many psychologists find this unnerving, because they figure they are suppose to be telling you what the symbols mean, but poets (and small children) tend to juggle symbols and fling them about like paper airplanes, while psychologists are still laboriously counting on their thumbs and consulting the manual.

By the way, the cicadas that spend 17 years underground before emerging have red eyes and live further south. Therefore, in the true spirit of Yankee one-upsmanship, I have decided to call our species  “18-year-cicadas” (until I learn otherwise.)

I can feel a sonnet brewing. I’ll add it on to this post later if I get around to writing it, but I think the final line will be, “It’s amazing how long some can live in the dark.”

(PS:  I finally wrote the sonnet on July 31):

Some summer long ago I knew the light,
But fell to earth and came to dwell down deep
In dank tunnels, subsisting on sap. Sight
Became a groping thing, and to creep
Became the norm, until today I got
The crazy urge to quit sucking the sap.
The dark felt suffocating, and I thought
I must go up for air, and left the trap
I’d long embraced. I climbed up, returned
To the dazzle of light, the push of wind.
My crusty skin felt old; my back burned;
And then I split from the husk where I’d been pinned.
I find I’ve grown a set of lacy wings
And can fly to tree tops where romance sings.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Revival of Ralph, an Anti-gyral Gale–

According to my computer’s spell-check, there is no such word as “gyre”, let alone “gyral”, which suggests I am getting started off on the wrong foot. Or maybe it is the right foot. At times it seems that to have anything to do with Global Warming involves you in stuff that does exist in reality, but not in computer models, or that exists in computer models and not in reality.

The reality is that a “gyre” is a swirl, but scientists were too scientific to use an ordinary word like “swirl”, so they resorted to obscure Latin, when it came to naming huge, oceanic swirls. For the most part they are permanent features, formed by the Easterlies, the Westerlies, and the Coriolis Force, and represented by nice and neat circles drawn onto maps when in fact they are wobbly, irregular and messy. Just for example, the Gulf Stream is portrayed as a current moving in a straight line across the Atlantic, but it is about as straight as an old hippy.

Gulf Stream images

If this is true for the gyres in the major oceans at lower latitudes, where the Coriolis Force is forceful, it is even more true for the Pole, where the Coriolis Force is perplexed  because all directions are south. Still, a nice, neat gyre is drawn onto the map.

Transpolar Drift 360px-BrnBld_ArcticCurrents.svg

The above drifts of sea-ice is more of a generality than a specific reality. It is based upon a general pressure pattern with a Polar high pressure displaced slightly towards Canada, with its clockwise winds spinning the ice. A wrench in the works is to place a low pressure with anti-clockwise winds where theory states there should be a high pressure.

This sort of low pressure, which I’ve somewhat facetiously named “Ralph”, has seemingly happened a lot this spring and summer, and the “gyre” has not behaved in a nice circular fashion, but rather has agitated all the world like the “wash” cycle of a washing machine.

Back on July 13 Ralph seemed to be filling and weakening on the Pacific side of the Pole, as a ridge of high pressure, “Ridgeway”, made an effort to obey the textbooks and be high pressure at the Pole, keeping “Scandy” trapped over Scandinavia.

However by July 14 Ralph was up to his tricks again. Even as he weakened towards the Canadian Archipelago an appendage I called R-8 swung over to the coast of Siberia and became the new Ralph.

The new Ralph sucked in energy and began to strengthen, as Ridgeway remained weak and Scandy looked towards Iceland for reinforcements.

I missed a couple maps here, but Ralph moved north and grew impressive, involving an impressive band of sub-freeing temperatures. Ridgeway and Scandy both were hardly visible, though the reinforcements from Iceland were moving up towards northern Norway and Barents Sea.

On July 17 Ralph was centered right over the Beaufort Gyre, swirling it in the exact opposite manner (counterclockwise) to what textbooks state (clockwise.)

Today Ralph weakens, but the winds continue counterclockwise. A new Ridgeway has formed, walling a new Scandy off in the North Atlantic.  Models now suggest that rather than the weak low over Siberia moving to Ralph, Ridgeway will build north over the Pole and Scandy will at long last move east along the coast of Siberia, as Ralph is reinforced by R9 from Hudson Bay and whirls over the Canadian Archipelago. This would be a more textbook-like pattern, with high pressure at the Pole and lows cycling around it, so I’m a bit nervous about it failing to happen. The models seem to be by the book, and reality has thrown the book out the window a lot, the past  month.

At this point one wonders what the shenanigans of Ralph have done to the Beaufort Gyre. Judging from the GPS of O-buoy 14, the ice has been backed up to the position where it was last December.

Obuoy 14 0718 longitude-1year

Of course, if your in the mood to argue you can always say it didn’t back up, it looped, and state the Beaufort Gyre functioned, in a sort of flat and southward-displaced manner.

Obuoy 14 0718 latitude-1year

In any case, it is back where it was in December, which tends to suggest that the sea-ice involved, moving east, would crunch up against the ice in the Transpolar Drift. Indeed when we look at our only other buoy, Mass Balance Buoy 2015F, we see it jarred left, away from the Beaufort Gyre.

2015F_0717 track This suggests the ice at that part of the Arctic Sea should be piling up and forming pressure ridges, which makes me puzzled by the NRL maps, which show it roughly three feet thinner in the past 45 days (which uses up a heck of a lot of heat.) (June 1 to left, July 17 to right.)

I wonder if the data is confused by the melt on the top of the ice, as when I look at our lone Mass balance buoy I do not see three feet of ice gone, and in fact that the bottom melt has barely begun.  Most of the melt is at the top.

2015F_0717 thick

The top-melt is at its peak  now, and in fact temperatures start to fall from now on, though imperceptibly at first.

DMI3 0717 meanT_2016

At O-buoy 14, which is south of 80 degrees latitude and therefore not included in the above graph, Ralph seems to have brought about a refreeze, temporarily ending the surface thaw.

Obuoy 14 0718 temperature-1week

Besides the chill, (perhaps like the cool downdrafts from a summer thundershower), Ralph brought something O-buoy 14 has seen little of this summer: Patches of blue sky. Who would expect a storm to do that?

Obuoy 14 0717 webcamObuoy 14 0717B webcamObuoy 14 0718 webcam

Notice the frost or snow build-up, on the right side of the larger yellow buoy to the left. Ralph was a cold storm.

In any case, I should end with that beauty, for that is what attracted me to the North Pole Camera years ago, before I got involved in the splendid bickering. However, in the cause of that bickering, I suppose I should end with the sea-ice”extent” graph.

DMI3 0717 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

According to my guess, made back in April, now is when we should start to part from the blue line of 2012, staying closer to the pink line of 2013.  The next few weeks will tell me how much humble pie I’ll have to eat.

LOCAL VIEW –Thunder Gold–

This is just a brief post to mention there is some good in the world, despite a moron inspired by creeps killing innocents in Nice, and Turkey’s woes.

Not that those woes can match my own. If I had the time, and could afford to hire the violins, you’d weep for me. However the details don’t really matter. It is the emotion. And, because others have done better, I’ll just sit back and let them describe how you should weep.

There. Now that we have all had a good cry, (which is the refreshment of singing the blues), we can get back to business.

It is a small matter, among more pressing business, but my garden does require water. Otherwise it just dies. And, as I am supposedly in charge of keeping my garden productive, I have to find time to stand and do little but hold a hose. (There was a 15-year-old who I delegated this task to, but, because he is fifteen, he was not reliable.)

As I stood, watering with a hose, I decided I was inferior to a rain-cloud. I failed to water evenly, and was unfair to one carrot while I overdosed another. Also the water I used was well-water, which had filtered down through the roots of countless plants and had a great deal of goodness sucked out of it.

Far better is thunder rain. You see, as lightning flickers, and perhaps even before lightning flickers, when it is only thinking of flickering, some magic occurs that turns nitrogen in the air into nitrogen in water, in a form that nourishes plants. Then, as that water filters down through roots, plants suck that nitrogen from the water, so the water in your well is basically stripped of that benefit. Therefore, it logically follows, when you water your plants with well water you are a poor excuse for a rain-cloud. You water with water of an inferior quality.

If you pay attention to such things, you’ll notice that plants do not honor your work as much as they honor a passing shower. You can water and water and water, and plants barely inch upwards, because your watering lacks nitrogen, but then some careless thunder shower passes over, and the plants leap upwards a foot.

This seems unfair to me. In fact I think plants are stinking bigots. I am the victim of a hate crime. Thunder showers get preferential treatment. I demand equal pay for equal work. And so on and so forth.  After all, it was blazingly hot as I watered.  Perhaps I was getting dehydrated even as I hydrated plants. But that just made me feel more sorry for myself.  It seemed the plants should appreciate me more, because I was going without so they could have what I lacked: Water.

However plants are not politically correct, and they simply tell it like it is: “Your water sucks, compared to thunder rain.”

Perhaps heat and dehydration was making me a bit crazy, but suddenly I thought I might understand how feminists feel when they, though childless, demand the same pay as a father of five, and get an illogical answer, “Your work sucks, compared to my work.”

Obviously work is work, just as water is water, but just as some water contains nitrogen and other water doesn’t, perhaps work holds a hidden ingredient.

As temperatures hit ninety in the shade, where official records are kept, they are over a hundred in the baking sunshine of a garden. Perhaps that heat made my mind mad. For, when I thought of feminists demanding equal pay for the same work that blue collar workers did, I found myself looking for some sort of nitrogen that one had that the other didn’t have.

It is politically incorrect to say this, but it is a statistic. The men more often were working for their wives than the single Moms were working for non-existent bum-husbands.  Furthermore, in some cases the men were working for children they had made, while the women were working for children they had aborted. I know saying this is blasphemy, and not the whole story, but it does suggest things are not as simple as some suggest.

But I’m tired of things being so hard. Things would be so much easier if we didn’t have to wonder if our hoses held nitrogen.

Of course, we all know nature is cruel. We are taught that in school. Humanity is much smarter, are we not? Then why do we look to the sky and yearn for rain?

And such yearning is silly, is it not? What are the chances of such yearning being realized, and my garden being singled out for a splendid drenching of nitrogen-rich rain that is not unfair to one carrot while overdosing the next? And which, best of all, gets me off the hook, because I am not the one watering?

20160715 rad_ne_640x480_10

Oh! What a blessing is the sighing of unexpected rain, as the twilight fades in a roll of thunder.

There is some good in the world.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Rambles–

When I last posted the Pole was ruled by “Ralph”, a low pressure center who has been wandering about the Pole for weeks, in various forms. Purists might insist it was several different storms, but I’m an impurist, and calling the general situation “Ralph” makes a point: Low pressure has been predominant over the Pole.

Besides Ralph another feature is now “Scandy”, which is low pressure over Scandinavia. (It too is made up of various lows fugiwhara-dancing and loop-de-looping.)  Between the two is a wall of high pressure I’ll dub “Ridgway”.

Ridgeway was an interesting feature, a high pumped by the descending air from both Ralph and Scandy. Some models got excited and had Ridgway get very strong and shove both lows right off the map. But models have been over-doing the power of high pressure at the Pole for weeks, as Ralph diddybops about and makes the models look ludicrous.

One thing Ridgway did was cut Ralph off from any inflow of Atlantic air, which was significant because Ralph’s last reinforcements came via R6, from the Atlantic.


(The 00z and 12z maps for July 7 are missing.) (Business before pleasure, and family matters before pleasure.)

On July 8 we see Ralph fading towards East Siberia and weakening, as Ridgeway gets pumped and is stronger. Scandy is stalled, and looking to the Atlantic for reinforcements.


On July 9 I was camping, but in the spirit of pioneers I hiked a considerable distance (for an old man), with my laptop huddled to avoid raindrops, to get reception and maps which show Ridgeway is being confronted by both Ralph and Scandy refueling.  Scandy looks to an Atlantic low coming east beneath Iceland,  as Ralph looks to R7 coming north from the Pacific  over the easternmost part of Siberia.

On July 10th things got interesting. Ridgeway became the first high in a long time to be king-of-the-mountain and rule the Pole, but he was a nervous king, under attack from two sides.

The reinforcement of polar lows is interesting and is worthy of study by competent  people who are not camping. I only deserve credit because I did not sneak off to save these maps on my laptop escaping the notice of family who can be blunt. They had a thing or two to say about Danial Boone and Davy Crockett not having laptops, and not caring a hoot about sea-ice.  I had a thing or two I didn’t say in reply, (involving Danial and Davy not having RV’s and pop-up campers.) And, where Danial and Davy got their bears, I got my maps.

To really study the Polar lows you need the high-resolution polar maps you can get from Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.  Even these simplified maps (which I prefer) show that Scandy was not merely reinforced by Atlantic lows leaking east from Iceland, but also by a retrograding low coming up from the southeast.

Most of R7 did a Fujiwhara dance while merging with Ralph, as a small piece was kicked east along the coast of Alaska.


On July 11 Ridgeway was already starting to wilt under the relentless attack from either side.  Scandy was weakening, but reinforcements from the southwest and southeast were converging. Ralph was also weakening, but R8 was coming north from the Pacific to help.

At this point the temperature maps get interesting, for there is an increase of sub-freezing air. In some ways this is impossible, for the sun never sets. In theory, this is a brief period where the Pole actually gains energy. If summer was endless, we’d see warm fronts coming down from the north, because hour after hour the sun shines, and the Pole receives more energy than it loses. How then can cold be created in July?

I assume it is some process like that which occurs in a summer thunder shower, to the south. Despite the heat of the day things get swiftly cooler. Some similar process occurs with summer lows at the Pole, especially when they weaken and fill. (But you’d be surprised by the debate this idea can generate.)

On July 12 Ridgeway is weaker, as Scandy is reinvigorated over Finland and Ralph loop-de-loops with R8.

(The July 12 12z map is missing, as we were unpacking after camping, and exhausted, which is the typical post-camping state.)

On July 13 Ridgeway continued to weaken, but remained strong enough to cut Scandy off from the Pole, as Ralph and R8 did a Fujiwhara dance, with apparently Ralph the boss and R8 weakening.

Lastly, today’s surprise was that Ralph weakened and R-8 saw a flare-up, as they continued their dance. Models show their dance tightening and turning into another decent Polar Storm, which will be called….Ralph.



The final map shows the Pole in a state that is about as placid as it ever gets. The isobars as far apart, which suggests only the lightest winds. In fact there is so little difference between the low pressure and the high pressure that computer models have very little to work with, and a greater chance of being wrong.

At times it is better to pretend computers haven’t been invented yet, and we are those barbarians of the past who used this thing called “their eyes.” For example, some models are producing maps which show only a little ice left along the south coast of Hudson Bay, but when you use Google explorer and look at the middle of the Bay with your lying eyes you see plenty.  (Only to the lower left is the white you see clouds.)

For water and ice to coexist they must both be at the freezing point. The difference between them is that the water holds the latent heat it takes to melt ice to water, and the ice doesn’t have it yet. In fact, water can get no colder than ice-water (except in unusual cases of super-cooling) and therefore ice-water cannot be water that is “above normal.” Why not? Because having icewater be “above normal” presupposes a normalcy could exist where water was below the freezing point and still be water, and not ice. However, in the wonderful world of computer models,  the water in the north-center of Hudson Bay, which our lying eyes can see is choked with ice, is above normal.

Hudson July 14 color_anomaly_NPS_ophi0

Models seem to need to be faced with the sort of reality-check that imaginative people like me are faced with. They need to be brought to earth. Otherwise they mess up other models, that use their data.

To me it seems that some scientists get so enchanted with their models that, rather than bringing their models to earth, they attempt to bring earth to their models. For example, when reality didn’t affirm Hansen’s models, he spent millions and perhaps billions of taxpayer’s dollars “adjusting” past temperatures, to make his models look right.

I am afraid this sort of nonsense pollutes even good models with bad data, and results in all sorts of sea-ice maps, graphs and data that leave a man scratching his head.

Fir example, look at these two maps of how the thaw is making ice less thick.  The one from June 9 is to the left and today’s is to the right.

Now, it is possible to do a back-of-the envelope calculation and arrive at how much heat it would take to reduce the amount of ice shown by the above maps. In a few places the ice is (supposedly) six feet thinner. In others it is only an inch thinner. However it is a simple calculation, involving the area and thickness, to arrive at the total volume of ice lost, in terms of square inches of ice. Then you figure out how much heat is needed to melt a square inch of ice, and you will arrive at the amount of heat necessary to melt the amount shown by the above illustration.

Sorry, but there was not that much heat available.  Some sort of modelling error is involved in the above maps.

I pity the people who use such maps as if they were gospel. They most definitely are not. They, at best, are a sort of best-guess estimate.

.In conclusion, as the thaw reaches its peak at the Pole, we must use raw data and our lying eyes whenever possible.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”



LOCAL VIEW –Wet Camping–

Camp 1 IMG_3492

One good way to end a drought, I have learned over the years, is to go camping. It seems a sure fire way to bring on a deluge. There are of course a few exceptions to this rule: Times the sun shone onto campgrounds, and light breezes wafted just enough coolness to gentle the summer heat, but those occasions stand out like diamonds set in a ring of black iron. They are the honeymoon, and more ordinary camping is the rougher stuff of marriage.

I always have a desire, after camping, to think about what happened, and to analyze the various components of the experience, and to make sense of it all. I’m not sure this is wise, for I think what I actually will do is prove I am part of a group of people who are certifiably insane, and it is usually best to be quiet about such things.

My mother didn’t come camping with us, fifty years ago, preferring to listen to a rare thing in our home: Quiet. She liked to read Agatha Christie and chain smoke. Meanwhile my Dad would head off to some sort of fiasco that was always fondly remembered. As we arrived back home I was carefully instructed not to tell the truth, but, being basically honest, I would burst in through the front door and exclaim “Oh Mom, it was so cool! I fell off a bridge and the boat tipped over and your favorite pot sank in the river!  There was thunder and hail and Dad burned the eggs!  Hurley got lost in the woods! Halsey sank to his armpits in a bog where there were wicked cool pitcher plants and sundew, eating bugs, and I almost caught a trout! And…why are you clutching your heart?”

My mother was made very uncomfortable by the component of camping I liked best,  and in fact she was so disturbed she sought out a psychiatrist to regain her peace of mind.  He reassured her that indeed her feelings were not to blame, for camping was indeed insane. In fact, he suggested, my father’s love of the outdoors was indicative of suicidal and homicidal tenancies, on his part.

For some reason this didn’t make my mother more comfortable.

After the divorce broke my home I entered a long period of homelessness, which is a sort of camping.  I did inhabit houses, but they weren’t my home. I often slept in my car, which is, when you think of it, a primitive form of RV. One year I moved out into a campground during the last snow of spring and lived there until the first snow of the next winter, because you can’t beat $25.00/week for rent.

I initially had an idealized view of marriage and family and owning a house with a white picket fence. My plan was to marry at eighteen and be a grandfather at thirty-eight. However life did not follow the script I had written, and when my thirty-seventh birthday passed, and I was still basically camping, and still a bachelor, I decided it was high time to give up on my foolish dreams. I especially decided to give up on the business of chasing women and attempting to persuade them I’d be a good husband and father. They’d made it very clear, over the years, that a broke poet is not a good prospect. Anyway, there is something creepy about a fellow who isn’t young anymore attempting to sweet-talk the young ladies. One morning I looked in the mirror, and thought I saw the beginnings of a dirty old man.

I decided it was time to have a talk with God. I did all the talking. I told God I’d done everything I could to be an old-fashioned guy in a monogamous marriage in a house with a white picket fence, but my will didn’t seem to be God’s Will, and therefore I would bow to His will, and become completely celibate.

To me it seemed the response was immediate. Almost immediately I met a woman who made me feel celibacy might not be the solution. She happened to have three children, and the first place we looked at to rent was a 250-year-old house straight from a Norman Rockwell painting. And yes, it did have a white picket fence.

It quite literally happened in a matter of weeks, and people who knew me well shook their heads, and may have uttered some cynical forecasts behind my back. After all, how can a happy-go-lucky poet go from camping in an RV called a 1974Toyota Corolla, to being a step-father of three children, in a house with a white picket fence, without cracking up?

I was as mystified, and at times as cynical, as my friends were, but I had to admit I sort of liked the change in my circumstances. I even felt my days of camping were over. However they weren’t. The economy of New England was going from Boom to Bust at that time, and it turned out that my skills as a homeless drifter were just what was needed in such an economic fiasco.

You see, when the stock market crashes, it is not the poor who commit suicide, leaping out skyscraper windows. It is the rich. This proves the rich are weaklings. The poor are strong.

I had no idea I was strong until I saw the rich floundering and acting all weird, as the so-called “Massachusetts Miracle” went belly-up. I blithely paid my bills and raised three step-children (and two afterthoughts of my own), living in the ordinary, boring, hand-to-mouth manner of a homeless drifter. Even though I had a white, picket fence, in a strange way I was still camping.

My own family had been made dysfunctional by the helpful advice of the marriage counselors my parents paid big bucks to be duped by, and though we were close pre-divorce, post-divorce we only talked in a most guarded manner, the few times our paths crossed. However my wife’s family was utterly different. In fact the third date I had with with my wife involved going to a gathering where I felt strangely on-display before some twenty-five complete strangers.  It was summer, outdoors by a pool, with all sorts of good food,  and a fellow came up to me and inquired, in the broadest Boston accent you can imagine, “Are yah Cahthlick?” (I’m not.)   (Maybe it was a test.  If that didn’t send me running for the hills, nothing would.)

The entire business of gatherings so large that you need a chart to understand who is related to who, and in what way, was a bit alien to me. After all, to be dysfunctional means you are centered on divorce. These people were focused on a different thing, called marriage.

It introduced a whole new component to camping. My own view was minimalist, going out with little more than what you could carry in a knapsack. However these folk were into bringing the microwave, if you could. Although we all began with tents, as the years passed the standard-of-living, or perhaps standard-of-camping, steadily improved, until I noted that rather than eating in an open area under trees, we were eating in an alley between RV’s. Not that such eating doesn’t involve some roughing-it, because the rain can still pour down.

Camp 2 IMG_3491

There was some component to this camping that seemed very important to me. It was the component that places such a value on the gathering that it hardly matters if you “get back to nature.” In fact, if RV’s get any more lavish, people will be able to sell their houses.

Houses are not homes, in sterile suburban neighborhoods where everyone leaves at dawn, (the parents leaving to work, and the children leaving to daycare), and the neighborhood becoming basically a ghost town, until people come back at sunset. Little wonder people have “lived” in such sterile places for years, and never talked with the person next door.

Compared to such emptiness, there is more community in the people tailgating before a football game, than in a gated community.  There is more community in a bunch of RV’s in a campground, than in an expensive suburb.

What is the difference?  The difference is some component of the word “community”.  I would like to suggest the difference is the difference between moving, and stagnation.

Let me put it this way: In the fable of the race between the rabbit and the tortoise, who epitomized stagnation? Was is not the speedy rabbit?  The rabbit thought he “had it made”.  The rabbit was “ahead”, and wanted to just sit back and reap the pleasure of being ahead. But the turtle was a plugger. He was not attracted to the status quo that left him behind. So he just kept moving. “Slow but steady wins the race” means you keep on moving.

Looking back fifty years, through the brittle and yellowed papers of an unnecessary divorce, I’d have to say my mother was the rabbit, because she didn’t want to camp. She wanted to eat bonbons, chain smoke, and read Agatha Christie. Then, in the end, rather than the peace she craved, she experienced the humiliation of being trampled by a turtle.

Let me put it another way, by writing a new fable: “The race between the snail and the slug”. The snail symbolized the wealthy, with a gated community on their back. The slug carries nothing. Hmm. When I get around to finishing this fable, who will the winner be?

In conclusion, to camp is to renounce comfort, for something better. Sometimes it is the beauty of the wilderness. Other times it is the beauty of a family gathering.

It can be as simple as waiting for the rain to end, and then watching a new and upcoming generation swing.Camp 5 FullSizeRender

Or perhaps watch an even newer generation learn to turtle-walk.

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Or perhaps watch the young emulate the youngest, and make hilarity of it all, by walking the turtle-walk with the youngest:

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Of course, as a dysfunctional, I know how other dysfunctionals feel.  They see no hope in the next generation. They think the young are all badly taught by bad teachers, and never do anything but watch video games and text. They are ill-prepared for what gated communities build gates to wall away.

Modern youth are like foolish ducklings paddling behind parents on a lake full of snapping turtles. They will be snapped down by reptilian cruelty, and each time a parent looks back there will one fewer left alive. It is the law of nature.

However, once the sun came out, I was able to wander away from the RV’s and study the bits of wilderness left, and saw something interesting nature had to say in this very subject.

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According to the book, a mother duck lays a huge clutch of eggs because the likelihood of survival is slim. A fox or raccoon may find the nest and eat all twelve eggs. Even if they hatch, snapping turtles and big fish will gobble the innocents even as they swim obediently close to their mother. In fact, for a species to survive, a mother and father duck must survive three years, lay 36 eggs, and have only two survive to adulthood, to replace the mother and father when they die. Or so says theory. However, even as I thought about theory, and what it means about the survival of those I hold near and dear, a most audacious mother duck appeared. As soon as she saw me she swiveled and herded her nearly full-grown ducklings the other way, but I clicked a swift picture to prove the impossible:  A mother duck laid twelve eggs, they all hatched, and, due to the wisdom of her mothering, they all survived and now all were nearly fully grown.

This is an example of how nature insults socialists. Socialists demand an odd and unnatural equality that insists there is no difference between good parenting and bad. You do not reap what you sow, but rather, if all your ducklings die, it is due to a failure on the part of the government to oppress snapping turtles and foxes. Nature is different. Nature supports snapping turtles and foxes, but states a smart mother duck will reap twelve ducklings.

Camping gets us back to nature, does it not? And one part of nature is that smart parenting is rewarded. Going through the bother of “family values” will be rewarded.

(I fully expect some socialists to attempt to make camping illegal, because they hate evidence that proves their mentality is not liberal, but destructively conservative.)

In the end, it all boils down to the fact that, without a tax-dollar being spent; without a speech being written, without me typing these words, nature is beautiful. We are but dogs on it’s banks.

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It stuns us with its ability to surpass our greatest artists and finest thinkers.

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And yet natures is merely the creation, not the Creator. It is but a reflection of something higher and finer.

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As I reflect upon the Creation, considering the unimaginable beauty of whoever or whatever created, it seems absurd to conclude anything. I am in the presence of power far, far above my head.

But I will timidly venture this:

Go camping. If possible, go camping with in-laws and the in-laws of in-laws. Most especially, go camping with the young.