Things have been “interesting” around here. Three feet of snow and temperatures below zero (-17 Celsius) were followed by temperatures above fifty (+10 Celsius) and heavy rain, followed by a flash freeze and three inches of snow, resulting in a car crash, floods in the cellar and a fire in the stables. Handling such interesting stuff leaves little time for posts on sea-ice, but I have managed to update the prior post up to December 10. It can be found here:
In case you young folk want to know where firewood comes from, it comes from “wood mines”.
My rat-hunting dog begs to differ. She claims they are called “woof mines”.
The deep snows make everyday deeds, like getting an armload of wood, difficult. The deep snow-cover also seems to confuse the computer-model used to figure out our forecasts. Temperatures are significantly lower than forecast. The low last night was forecast to be 10F (-12 Celsius) but instead it is getting down towards zero in the dark before dawn. But check out the forecast. Nearly fifty degrees warmer and raining by tomorrow!?
What a mess it could be! Everything will turn to slush and then freeze solid. Great start to winter. But if the snowbanks by the roads freeze solid it will be more difficult to skid off the roads. They become like bobsled runs.
In 5 1/2 days the flow of air up at the Pole went from Canada-to-Siberia (November 28, lower left) to Siberia-to-Canada (December 4, lower right.)
Personally I prefer Canada to export its cold air to Siberia, for that means there is less left over to freeze my socks off where I live, south of the Canadian border in the state of New Hampshire. It seems to me that the last thing Canada needs during winter is the import of Siberian air.
I may be a bit prone to ranting about the subject of cold weather at the moment, as we have been at the center of a so-called “lollypop” on snowfall maps, and are dealing with 36 inches. (91 cm). It’s unfair, because the politicians in the capitals of Concord, New Hampshire 35 miles to our northeast, and Boston, Massachusetts 49 miles to our southeast, experienced less than six inches. If there was any justice they’d be the ones digging down three feet to get a stick of firewood, or even to get their mail.
But maybe its for the best. If they had to deal with three feet of snow they’d likely invent some new tax or fee to deal with it, and never shovel a flake themselves.
I amuse myself by imagining what politicians would come up with. Perhaps they’d concoct a fee to supply every mailman with a snow-shovel to dig down to mailboxes with, but only a nickle of every dollar would reach the mailman, as 95 cents went to “administration”, which would of course involve the politician’s Aunt Agnes and Cousin Waldo, plus anyone else who contributed to his reelection. This alone explains why governments are so inefficient when they attempt to do what ordinary people do. When I shovel out my mailbox 100% of my energy goes into the job, but when politicians try to do the same job 95% goes to nepotism and cronyism, and the remaining 5% causes the Postal Workers to go on strike, for currently they refuse to deliver me my mail if my mailbox is under snow, (even though I pay them to deliver it with my taxes), and if you supply them with a shovel and tell them to deliver the damn mail even if it involves digging, you will not only see no digging, but you will see no mail delivered. In essence the entire tax-dollar is wasted.
In like manner, it seems my imagination is wasted, when I spend time on the antics of politicians. It seems far better to spend my imagination on the antics of clouds. Not only has the government not yet found a way to tax us for looking at clouds, (though they have invented a “view tax” to add onto the property taxes of houses on hills), but also clouds are 100% efficient, whether it is the cloud’s job to free the sunshine, or to dump three feet of snow on my mailbox.
One reason I look to the North Pole is because it gives me a heads-up to what my future may hold. It was good news that the cross-polar-flow went from Canada to Siberia, for it promised a break in the arctic outbreaks that afflicted us. But it is bad news that the cross-polar-flow has undergone the switcheroo. Mark my words, after a mild spell to start next week, the (bleep) is going to hit the fan around here, and I may manage very few posts about sea-ice, until spring.
One interesting thing about watching cross-polar-flow is that it doesn’t matter which way the air goes, it warms crossing the Arctic Sea. People tend to see the North Pole as the source of cold, but in actual fact the source is Tundra, and to a lesser extent Taiga. Over Siberia temperatures can drop to -90 F, which gives us pretty pictures like this:
However as that air is sucked towards Canada via cross-polar-flow one notes it swiftly warms, right at the surface, and the Central Arctic Basin seldom sees temperatures below -30ºF, very rarely sees temperatures below -40ºF, and never (that I have seen) reaches temperatures below -50ºF.
Meanwhile Alaska and northern Canada, though not as expansive as Siberia, can see temperatures below -70ºF. When the cross-polar-flow moves from Canada to Siberia, one again sees the surface temperatures rise.
What does this suggest? First, it suggests that the true sources of arctic cold are Northern Eurasia and Northern North America, and the Arctic Sea is actually a “heat-island” between two very cold places. Second, because the Arctic Sea is a “heat island” and because warm air rises, it must constantly be sucking air north to replace the air that rises.
If the air sucked north is from the Atlantic or Pacific, it is “maritime” air and slows the growth of sea-ice as it is relatively mild (though usually below freezing). But if the air sucked north is from Siberia or Canada it is “continental” and enhances the growth of sea-ice because it is very cold. In simplistic terms all Alarmists should root for maritime air being sucked north while all Skeptics root for continental air being sucked north.
In actual fact the opposite may be true. If you study the temperatures of air-masses, it becomes obvious nothing squanders the planet’s heat as swiftly as a mild air-mass moving to the sunless Pole. In like manner, nothing preserves the planet’s heat as much as it’s coldest air never freezing lower latitudes, and instead being warmed over the Arctic Sea.
Some eloquent arguments may then arise between those over-focused on sea-ice and those over-focused on air temperatures. Both are “wrong”, for the situation is complex and involves multiple variables. One reason climate models fail is because they miss certain variables, or fail to give certain “weight” to certain variables, or even to vary the “weight” of variables (which creates varying variables). It is so complex it tends to give me a headache, so what I prefer to do is to make an overly simplistic forecast and then enjoy my failure. Fortunately no one is depending on my forecasts, for it frees me from blame and guilt, and, like a child at play, I think train wrecks are cool.
One train wreck in my forecasting has been due to attempting to see a pattern, when the pattern is a switcheroo pattern, which in essence is a lack of a pattern. If you try to base things on a Canada-to-Siberia flow then you get messed up when the pattern goes through a switcheroo and is the exact opposite 5 1/2 days later.
Another train wreck occurred because a pattern did persist even as things all around it were going through a switcheroo. What happened was that an upper air trough in eastern North America combined with a ridge to the west and brought a flow of arctic air persistently south, the first half of November. Then this flow was interrupted by the Aleutian Low penetrating the ridge in the west, which allowed Pacific air to flood inland in Canada. What this usually means is that our north winds become noticeably milder, because it involves air from a different “source”. That change was the “switcheroo”, but the arctic air wasn’t entirely banished from the north winds. Way over towards Greenland a thin ribbon of arctic air bled south, sneaking over the east side of Hudson Bay into Quebec. That was the “pattern that persisted”. Perhaps the arctic wasn’t breaking records and sending impressive blobs of high pressure south, (causing Texan ranchers to laconically drawl, “Nothin’ between here and the North Pole but a few strands of barbed wire an’ some cold cows.”) But the arctic flow persisted in the very east of Canada. That resulted in a personal train-wreck forecast, for that cold air was the reason that rather than rain we got three feet of snow.
If one is in the mood to be gloomy, that persistent drain of cold in the east of Canada, even when the west is flooded with Pacific air, does not bode well for the Great Plains and East of the USA. If it effects us even when the cross-polar-flow is Canada-to-Siberia, it will be far worse when the flow is Siberia-to-Canada. Our worst winters see the arctic sweep south down the east side of the Rockies, brew trouble by mixing with tropical air in the Gulf of Mexico, and send snowstorms up the east coast. This early in the winter the Atlantic retains summer warmth, so the storms often contain rain or are all rain, but as the winter proceeds the big cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Washington D.C. get clouted, (and politicians get busy dealing with the climate by raising taxes).
Around here the last thing we want right now is rain. When you have three feet of snow on your roof the snow acts like a sponge in the rain, and the weight of all the wet snow can cause buildings to collapse. In fact I’m going to shovel the roof of my goat’s stable over the weekend. (When younger I made some extra money during bleak winters risking my neck in that manner, but now I just do it for survival, which I also call “fun”.)
There seems to be a lag of up to a week between events in Northern Canada and repercussions reaching us down here. A switcheroo up there leads to erratic weather down here. It’s still too early to be certain what the winter pattern will be. One looks for things to “settle down”, but one also is not entirely sure the switcheroo-pattern might not be THE pattern, and chaos will continue non-stop. Stay tuned.
(I’ll ad some graphs and the individual DMI polar isobar and isotherm maps later, when I find time. But now I have to go shovel a roof.)
OK. Heavy rain is now reducing any snow that hasn’t been shoveled from local roofs, allowing me to scrutinize maps.
When I last posted a Aleutian Gale had been deflected north up the Siberian side of Bering Strait, (becoming “Hula Ralph #2”). The southerly gales up through Bering Strait actually pushed the expanding sea-ice backwards, increasing the open water (and warmer surface temperatures) north of Bering Strait. (Nov. 24 to left; Nov, 27 to right).
Sometimes these retreats of sea-ice can cause a dip in the extent graph, but in this example the decrease in the Chukchi Sea was more than matched by increases in the Kara and Greenland Seas and Hudson and Baffin Bay.
By November 29 Hula-Ralph #2 was rapidly weakening north of Alaska, and I was watching the next Aleutian Low to see if would follow the same path. Despite the vast impulse of Pacific air coming north through Bering Strait and across the entirety of Alaska, the Pole itself was still cooling, which was not what I expected. I expected the Pacific “feeder-band” to fuel more of a “Ralph” low north of the New Siberian Islands, but instead an Atlantic low strengthened at the top of Norway.
Over the next two days the Pacific influence continued to dwindle, to my surprise. The influx of pacific air cooled, precipitating very little snow, and the next Aleutian Low faded without coming north, though it did swing a secondary into Alaska. The Canada-to-Siberia cross-polar-flow was falling apart, but I still expected the Atlantic low to fade and high pressure to reassert itself on the Atlantic side, as all the Pacific air would allow low pressure to reassert on the Pacific side, resurrecting the Canada-to-Siberia flow.
The map of December 2 made a train-wreck of my expectations.
First, polar temperatures hit their lowest levels of the year, despite the huge invasion of Pacific air through Bering Strait. To be honest, the invasion seemed a spectacular flop. All the invasion seemed to accomplish was to lose an incalculable amount of heat to the arctic night.
Second, I failed to foresee the expansion of high pressure from Siberia, even as I failed to forecast the low pressure expanding north through Baffin Bay. A month ago a similar low moved right up to the Pole, but I had low confidence the current low could do the same, with the Siberian high advancing from the other side of the Pole. It seemed to me an irresistible force was meeting an immovable object, and I tend to avoid forecasting the outcomes of such affairs.
The next day saw the two powers both stronger, and still at a stand-off, but the isobars between the two suggested the cross-polar-flow was completely reversed to Siberia-to-Canada.
The next day showed the Siberian high pressure won. Just as the Aleutian Low failed to penetrate north the prior week, and instead was deflected east, now the Baffin Bay low was deflected east into the Atlantic. The cross polar-flow was starting to suck in some milder Atlantic air through Fram Strait, creating a feeder-band north of Greenland.
One day later saw the high weaker, and a massive Atlantic storm strengthening. This storm had sub-950 mb and the power of a super-typhoon, but such beasts get little press, as there are not even shipping lanes that far north. But what does get press is temperatures at the North Pole, and this Icelandic Gale pumped the feeder-band north of Greenland fatter, and warmed the Pole. I found it odd that a feeder-band existed without a “Ralph”, and I was paying undue attention to the very weak low pressure north of the Canadian Archipelago. I dubbed that low “Wimpy-Ralph.”
Maps a half-day later day demonstrated what a wimp that Ralph was. Rather than being fed by the feeder band he was weaker, and pushed east.
A half-day later Wimpy-Ralph had made a train-wreck of my theory feeder-bands feed Ralphs, for he was weaker and getting pushed southwest. However Wimpy-Ralph was, besides crimping my egotism, crimping the cross-polar-flow. It no longer came straight across from Siberia, but now described a backwards “S”, first swinging towards Svalbard to scoop up some Atlantic air, before curving towards Alaska, and only then swinging down to Canada. (At this point it is interesting to think of the cross-polar-flow as a high-pressure-hose laying on a pavement. When it swings over in one direction, what do you expect will follow?)
Only a day later the cross-polar-flow is aiming down the east coast of Greenland, rather than curving around towards Alaska. How could such a dramatic shift occur?
First, the Siberian high pressure, though weakening towards Siberia, expanded greatly towards Canada, pushing Wimpy-Ralph down towards Hudson’s Bay. In fact while the official center of the high pressure is still over the New Siberian Islands, the body of high pressure is generally moving across the Pole.
Second, if high pressure is moving away, low pressure tends to replace it, especially if other factors support growth, and in the Kara Sea we see growing low pressure from a “kicker” storm ahead of the weakening Icelandic gale now hitting the northwest coast of Norway.
The next day’s map shows the Siberian High and Kara Low performing a sort of Polar Waltz, something remotely like the Fujiwara Effect between adjacent Typhoons. Let it suffice to say (because I can’t claim to understand it) that the body of the high pressure is dislodged from the coast of Siberia and is moving towards North America.
The following two days show stuff occurring on the Pacific side, associated with the Aleutian Low, and the Atlantic side, associated with the Icelandic Low, which may well be the subject of my next post. However, for this post, simply notice how the dislodged high pressure moves across to Canada.
I may well be laying the tracks for my next train wreck, but to me it seems the cross-polar-passage of an entire high pressure system is more significant than cross-polar-isobars which are here today and gone tomorrow.
For one thing, cross-polar-isobars only suggest winds “can” transport air from Siberia to Canada. The actual transport takes time. How long? You’d have to send up a balloon, and see how long it took to float from Siberia to Canada.
You can be certain the balloon wouldn’t follow the straight path suggested by one map, when following maps first curve the path towards Alaska and then down the east coast of Greenland.
However, when an entire high-pressure crosses the Pole, in some ways it is a big balloon, in and of itself. (And I know, I know, some don’t like to call a high-pressure a “thing”, and to say it is but a reflection out outside imbalances, but for the sake of argument allow me to state it has a reality and is an entity.) This balloon is not a hot- air balloon, rising, but is a cold-air balloon, pressing down and making barometers read “high pressure”. (In such a case a high-pressure represents a big blob of cold air, and therefore is a “thing”.)
The power of such Siberian cold can be hidden, for its lowest levels are warmed by the passage over the thin ice of the Arctic Sea. However the surface maps mute the true intensity of the cold. If we could only afford towers, or perhaps drones, to measure temperatures only a hundred feet above the sea-ice, we might see that the warming of Siberian cold passing over the Arctic Sea is superficial. It seems to me that I have seen constant examples of times such air, the moment it moves from the Arctic Sea into Canada, reveals its true nature. It was not truly made into a maritime air-mass by passing over the Arctic Sea, but rather was a Siberian air-mass with its very bottom, as little as six feet thick, turned into a maritime air-mass. How can I claim such a thing? It is because air “above-normal” over the Arctic Sea can become “below-normal” within a half hour of moving inland and over Canadian Tundra. This would be difficult to do, because Tundra’s “normal” is so much colder than the “normal” over sea-ice, but becomes possible when the layer of “warm” air is so very thin it is easy to mix out of existence.
In any case, it will be interesting to watch the high-pressure that has crossed the Pole, and to see if it is a “thing” that causes North America grief.
To conclude this update, I should revert to the subject of sea-ice, and state that neither the invasion of Pacific air through Bering Strait, nor the feeder-band that invaded north of Greenland and fed Wimpy-Ralph, slowed the yearly growth of sea-ice. In fact the growth has been so rapid we are no longer counted among the lowest years.
If you are into headlines, you need to change the September headline “Lowest Extent In Five Years” to “Highest Extent In Five Years.” (No bother, because you’re only changing one word.)
Hudson Bay is in the process of swiftly freezing over. (November 30 to left; December 11 to right.)
We are ahead of the same date in 2016 (left) but behind 2017 (right)
As soon as the Bay skims over the cold is able to build much more swiftly to my north, and north winds become crueler here.
The only thing Alarmists have to crow about is sea-ice “volume”, which is notoriously hard to determine, but is currently quite low:
I think the low volume is largely due to the open water north of Bering Strait, but that area is rapidly shrinking and Bering Strait is now bridged by sea-ice.
Also of interest has been the slow growth of a sort of mountain range of thicker sea-ice all the way from Svalbard to Wrangle Island. This range of ice has largely been created by the transport of ice from the marginal seas along the Eurasian coast. The Laptev Sea is always a great creator and exporter of sea-ice, as cold winds blow north from Siberia, shifting sea-ice away from shore and creating polynyas of open water which swiftly refreeze in the frigid winds. But this year it seems the Kara, East Siberian and even Chukchi Seas are also getting into the act.
My chickens don’t like deep snow. Their feathers
Are ruffled. They need to be smooth as nudists
And able to stay calm in all weathers.
They need to say “Aum” like good Buddhists
But won’t listen to me. Chickens won’t parrot.
I lecture, “say ‘Aum'”, but they just cluck.
At least parrots can copy. Neither carrot
Nor stick works on chickens. They stay stuck
Just like the World stays stuck. Peace is a jewel
But the World prefers feathers be ruffled.
It can’t stop. Warfare is habitual
And peace is a voice that gets muffled
By deep snow. Then Silence speaks out what I mean:
“Stop this ruffling of feathers, and preen.”
The final New Ipswich storm total was 36 inches. Picture of my cozy home:
We actually were struck by two storms. The first was a surge of mild air ahead of both the upper air trough and the surface low, that I would call “a warm front”, but I understand is now called “warm air advection”. The upper air jet zooming around the bottom of the upper air trough spread out as it moved away, which created suction aloft that helped the warm air, which wants to rise anyway, rise faster. This stuff, called “divergence” and “diffluence”, is all very fascinating, but doesn’t necessarily translate into a good forecast.
They were predicting 4-6 inches by the morning of December 2 here, but I was wary, using my old fashioned concepts of warm fronts. I know that warm fronts give us southeast winds which run up against our east-facing hills and increase uplift, which means we can get more rain or snow than folk down on the flatlands. Also air cools as it rises, so we can see the snow change to rain far later than the warm front changes things, at the coast in Boston. If temperatures begin cold enough, the snow may never change to rain or sleet at all. As it was 13 ° (-11.5 Cesius) at dawn on December 1, when the high clouds first started moving in, I knew we had the available cold. Last but not least, over on his blog at Weatherbell, Joseph D’Aleo was focusing on some of the computer models that showed the warm front could dump a stripe of deep snow over southern New Hampshire. So I was forewarned, even if the weather bureau slipped up, and we got more than the 4-6 inches they predicted. I just wasn’t forewarned enough.
Even 4 inches (10 cm) means I have to arise early to snow-blow the Farm-Childcare driveway, and in the pitch dark of December 2 the first thing I glanced at was the weather radar. It was clear the front was clobbering us and wasn’t going to change to rain.
Turning on the porch light I saw the steps made smooth by snow, and guessed we’d had ten inches, (25 cm), but as I stepped off the lower step and had snow pour into my boots I realized we had 18 (46 cm). It was the start of a long ordeal, as the snowblower had to crawl along at its slowest to deal with that depth, but even though I was late clearing the Childcare’s entry and lot, the few customers who made it through the snow were also late. The snow-removal crews (besides myself) seemed also taken by surprise; they were late to start plowing and had a hard time catching up, even working all night, because the snow fell with such intensity.
The snow became light after sunrise, but all eyes were on the heavy precipitation down around New York City, in the above map. There was an idea a secondary would form and roll towards Cape Cod and then up into the Gulf of Maine, and some forecasts stated we could get six more inches as it rolled past. Fortunately we only got a dusting all day, for around town a lot of equipment was breaking down. My snowblower snapped a cable controlling the transmission, and I worked with unfeeling fingers jury-rigging a repair made of electrical wire, before finishing the drive to the barn and various paths to fire-escapes. I didn’t get to study maps as much as I like, but could utilize my cell phone to check the radar, on guard for heavier snow driven inland from the Gulf of Maine. But no storm appeared there. In fact the swath of heavy snow and rain associated with the warm front took off to the northeast with (to me) astonishing speed. I had the sense that a lot of energy that might have gone into a secondary low was being “robbed” by a low developing up past Nova Scotia. I’ve seen such “robbery” occur many times in the past, turning forecast storms into non-events, and it seemed to be happening again. The forecast six inches never materialized, and we got about a quarter inch. This gave me time to attend to the edges and corners I neglected in my first frantic attempts to open my Childcare, and also attend to my chickens, who had never seen snow before and were severely traumatized by 18 inches. (My older and wiser goats just hunkered down under the barn.) The recovery seemed to be going well until I noticed, in the afternoon, the light, falling snow seemed to stop getting lighter and lighter, and the sky stopped getting brighter and brighter as well. Slightly nervous, I checked the animated weather-radar, and noticed an ominous (and also very-cool) thing:
Even though the winds had been southeast, on the radar-map precipitation had been tracking southwest to northeast, as if in a hurry to follow the warm front up towards Labrador, but now it was all slowing, and out to sea was turning around and moving east-to-west. Was a secondary developing after all? To top it off, one mother picking up her child had heard a forecast different from the other mothers. Most opined we’d have flurries over night, but one stated she’d heard we’d get four inches.
This troubled me, for it suggested I might have to snow-blow the whole danged place all over again. So I was in a hurry to get home to my computer, but at the door I was met by the dog, who informed me with a pained expression she had been severely neglected, so I took her out.
Some state dogs can warn you in advance about events such as earthquakes. My dog ran about barking at snowflakes to an absurd degree, which is exactly how she behaved the night before. This should have alerted me. Instead I judged my dog insane, and after she had annoyed the neighbors for a period I decided might stress the limits of their tolerance, I dragged her in, fed her, and hurried to my computer, to seek the “weather updates” of every nearby station I could access.
The forecasters who were using old copy, or who had recorded their forecasts early to hurry off to watch Monday Night Football, were still predicting barely a dusting overnight, but the more active and animated forecasters were forecasting 4 inches (10 cm) [Hmm…where have I heard that before?] The most accurate forecast turned out to be in the old blog posting by Joseph D’Aleo, which should have been like day-old-bread. In his assessment of possibilities he described exactly what happened.
In the far-above radar shot you can see the circulation associated with the upper air low far to the west, moving from Indiana to Ohio. It was so far west it could delay the development of the coastal low, turning a single event into two events.
I kept shining a flashlight out the window during dinner, only slightly annoying my wife, who, though she wished my full attention, understands I’m like our dog, and on occasion have accurately predicted earthquakes. I could see that, although the snow was only intermittently moderate, we already had an inch on our steps, and the forecasters watching Monday Night Football were going to be embarrassed in the morning. I was convinced I was going to have to get up early and snow-blow four inches, and retired to bed early and glum.
When I got up I turned on the porch light even before I checked the radar. My jaw dropped. Once again the front steps were smooth. Wading out to my car I estimated we’d had a little over a foot. Those who the TV stations consult stated we’d had 14 inches (35.6 cm) which gave us a total of 32 inches (81 cm).
It took me 45 minutes just to shovel a short path to the street in darkness, so I could drive to the Childcare to snow-blow the entrance and lot, so customers could come. But I did it. Only six children showed up, and all were late.
Radar showed the storm indeed did develop and move up into the Gulf of Maine, giving us “backlash” snows.
It was a case of perfect positioning and alignment. Quite often such storms cycle the precipitation into the White Mountains, and the air is robbed of moisture and is down-sloping by the time it gets around to us, so we get only flurries. But this time the radar showed the precipitation come straight in from the ocean and then take a sharp left just inland of Portland, and then move south-southeast east of Concord, largely over coastal plains, so the air stayed juicy and then was uplifted when it hit our hills. This created a “perfect storm” scenario, and is why our storm totals were so high when Concord only got six inches.
In Atlanta life may grind to a halt when there is 3 inches of snow, but up here we can’t get away with that. Maybe we would if we could, but we can’t. If we let a little snow stop us, we’d all be unemployed from November to April, and likely would starve in the process.
It is like a fifteen-round-fight to keep roads open, when snowfall is over a foot, and after such a battle the warriors desire rest. Very seldom does a second snowfall-over-a-foot happen the very next day. Around here the warriors just faced the music, and without rest fought a second fifteen-round-fight. The roads stayed open, as did my Childcare. (After all, someone must care for the children of the men who clear the roads, as their wives work in hospitals caring for those who slip off the snowy roads).
One redeeming thing about having to go out in such weather is the views one sees. There are times you don’t even want to clean up the snow, because it will spoil the view. For example, who left the back, screen-porch-door open after thanksgiving dinner?
There was very little wind with this storm. Check out the railing at my home’s front entrance:
A new state-law insists you can’t drive with heaps of snow on your car roof, and my wife is law-abiding. Yet she is reluctant to clear 32 inches off her car and have it fall in her own parking place. So she backs her car to where the person who plows our short, private road will have to plow it.
The reason my wife can do such a thing is because our eldest son plows the small, private road, but the reason I had to shovel my way out earlier was because he hadn’t been able to get to our road, despite working without sleep. Nor would he find time before afternoon. But what if an ambulance had to head up that road? Because I was busy cleaning snow from the Childcare, he turned to his father-in-law, who showed up in a small pick-up and cleared just enough and no more.
By afternoon the snow at long last stopped, the low sun peeked out, the copious amounts of salt state crews sprinkled on the highway in front of our street began to melt the tar from white to black, my sleepless son appeared and made our small road look better, and we had once again demonstrated there is one thing we don’t entirely do when faced with a winter storm.
To conclude, I cannot resist a political dig at certain Alarmists who call me a “denier”. The comment below is for them.
I am well aware you Alarmists are attempting to switch the goal posts, and make the term “Global Warming” politically incorrect while stressing that the term “Climate Change” is the only term now allowed, but I must remind you what you insisted, fifteen years ago. Your so-called “climate experts” announced, “Our children are not going to know what snow is.” You did not dare disagree, but my grandson (and his buddy) would dare disagree and beg to differ with you.
So is my grandson a “denier”, or is it you?
The most amazing (and perhaps disconcerting) thing about this snowy situation is that winter hasn’t even started yet. The solstice is still more than two weeks away.
We have had a doozy of a double-barreled snowstorm, 18 inches to clean up on Monday morning, and 14 more to clean up Tuesday morning. No drifts, as the snow was oddly windless. I wrote this sipping coffee in the dark before dawn, before heading out on the second morning.
With night’s snow fell a silence. It was deep
As the snow was deep; grew deeper as snow
Grew deeper. The world did not go to sleep
But was wary, waiting. I do not know
What it awaited. Anticipation,
Like a small boy restless in a cold bed,
Impatient for Christmas, breathed steam that hung
In the dark stillness. No blue, green or red
Christmas lights blinked. The power was out.
No furnace rumbled and no fridge hummed.
No sledding-hill’s child freed a far-off shout.
What broke silence was me. My fingers drummed
As I awaited the soft light of dawn
And the Power we need to turn back on.
Sometimes my focus is too much upon the oncoming, and I miss what I am surrounded by. I am like the driver of a car, wisely focusing on the road ahead but a bit oblivious of the view beside me. This is all well and good until you become oblivious of the person beside you.
I recently heard a story about an old man and old woman driving together in one of those old pick-up trucks with bench front seats. They sat so far apart that the old lady’s forehead was actually resting against the coolness of the passenger side window. In front of them was a battered pick-up truck of the same year and make, but in it was a young couple obviously very much in love; the young lady’s head was resting on the young man’s shoulder. They were driving so slowly the older couple’s truck caught up, and as they did the old lady looked forward and then she sat up, turned to her husband, and reproachfully said, “We used to drive like that. What happened to us?” The old man glanced at her with a wry smile and said, “I haven’t moved.”
As Thanksgiving approached this year I looked forward to two things that to a degree were in conflict; a reunion of family, including new babies and new partners, and the first big snowstorm of the year, which was a glorified warm front but promised to dump a foot of snow all at once.
As the storm approached there were certain things I needed to attend to, such as making sure my snow-blower was running correctly after sitting idle all summer, and getting salt and a snow shovel out of storage and putting them on the porch. I noted the snow-blower’s carburetor was a bit fouled, and a sheer-pin on one blade needed replacing, and this necessitated a drive to a hardware store in the next town for a gasoline additive and a sheer-pin. This resulted in a, shall we say, “discussion” with my wife, because it seemed I might miss an hour of our reunion. What was more important, a sheer-pin or our own children? In the end things worked out, for I slipped away from our reunion and was back an hour later in such a manner that the chattering group hardly noticed I was gone, but beforehand it seemed worse than it was. I was not at all looking forward with relish, and anticipated trouble.
It was at this point, when my brains were working themselves into a tizzy, that I decided I needed to stop and smell the roses, though there were no roses to sniff. I was too focused on the oncoming snow and oncoming reunion, and was missing what was in the present tense. And what was that? It was not snow or a reunion. It was the last brown day before the landscape vanished under a blanket of white, perhaps for months; perhaps until April.
It didn’t take any extra time. I just took the time, as I walked from one chore to the next, to scuff through the leaves, and enjoy the rustling.
With holidays I nearly missed the last,
Brown day. It wasn’t on my Christmas list:
“The last, brown day.” Snow will make it be the past;
The white comes fast; the landscape’s kissed
By wool on trees and roads, but if a drift
Must block my path I wish a pile of leaves
To rustle through. The way sounds shift
From crisp to sift, from leaves to snow, just grieves
My heart, for I know snow is here to stay,
And therefore isn’t like the last, brown day.
Seize the moment, before it slips away.
Seize upon the last, brown day; in a kicking way
Rustle through leaves. Make life be play.
Rejoice all through the last, brown day.