Spring sprung like the squirrel’s black silhouette
Through the inked claws of naked branches
Against a slate sky overhead. It can’t get
Any colder in April. My spirit blanches
At the breeze, and the poor squirrel flees
My upturned face, though I mean it no harm.
It skitters tree to tree, and all my pleas
That it pause go ignored. I cannot charm
It, nor woo it with prayers. Where’s it going?
Why won’t it stay? Cold winds keep on blowing
And sleet only stops to start the snowing.
Sanity ducks, and my numbed hope’s knowing
A shivering song’s the best I have sung.
I’ll plod many more miles, before this spring’s sprung.
This is one of the coldest springs I can remember. I can remember an April back around 2006 or 2007 that started out bitterly cold and snowy, and was actually colder than the mild January we had that year, but it relented by the middle of the month. This year there is little sign the cold will be relenting.
Not that we don’t get our spells of brilliant sunshine, but it hasn’t fooled the trees. The buds are just barely starting to bulge a bit. However it does fool the children. They explode off the school bus at our Childcare full of an energy I equate with spring, for it is boundless, though they do bound a lot.
I suppose I could plant the peas, but the rototiller has a fouled carburetor. Anyway, I have to clean up the tree damage caused by roaring winds, because March went out like a lion and April came in like a lion, and I’m not lying. The kids wanted me to leave the tree as a low budget playground toy, but it blocked an important path.
The locals call this sort of leaning tree a “widow maker”, because they can do unpredictable things as you cut them down. Not that one has ever nailed me, but I have seen them swing or roll, and I cut with care. You need to notch the top and then cut from the underside, or else the slumping log pinches on the saw’s blade and you can’t remove it. This particular tree simply thudded down at the base, with the branches still hung up in other trees, so I was presented with a tree in the same situation, only slanting a little more steeply. I kept cutting and cutting, with sections thudding down and the tree becoming tilted more and more steeply, until the tree was vertical. Then I cut a final chunk off, and the tree was dangling. Hmm. I cut logs off until what remained of the tree was at chest level, at which point the dangling section of tree didn’t seem likely to crush me, so I tugged at it and brought it down. Nor did I totally ruin the playground toy, for the children like rolling logs down the hill.
While I had the saw out I cleaned up some birches that were weakened by the goats gnawing off bark a few years ago, and couldn’t withstand the past winter.
I dragged the boughs over to the goats, who, at this point in an endless winter, appreciate any change in diet.
Already the sun was dimming, and soon the view changed from April back to February.
It turned out it was a good thing we’d cut wood, for a campfire was appreciated.
It’s especially hard to get children to wear hats and gloves in April snows. It is as if they can feel the high sun even through clouds. (I can’t).
In November such a snow can hang around for days, because the sun is so low, which is annoying if you haven’t finished raking the leaves. In April the high sun can melt such a snow in hours, which is also annoying, if you want an excuse to avoid raking the leaves you didn’t get around to raking in November.
April snows aren’t all that unusual this far north. The locals call them “poor man’s fertilizer” because some sort of reaction puts nitrogen from the air into the snow, and when the ground is unfrozen that nitrogen can penetrate down into the soil. But what was unusual this year was that the cold wouldn’t quit. Unfrozen parts of the reservoir skimmed over with fresh ice, and the children’s sand-pile reverted to “candle ice”.
Dawns saw dustings of snow.
Finally, last Friday, a warm surge from the south fought north, and the very edge of it made it to us, before the cold to the north, and the cold waters of the Atlantic, fought back with a back-door-cold-front, and with chilling winds from the northeast. It was over 80°F (27°C) in New York City on Friday, and nudged over 60°F (14°C) here. I made the children wear rain pants due to mud, but their coats were strewn all over the playground, and they relished running in short sleeves. But …..then yesterday (Saturday) saw a mild morning give way to a return to the cold,
And now the Sunday morning radar map looks like this:
That really does look like a February map. Oh well. I suppose if we are going to be miserable we might as well try to set a record, but I don’t think I’ll be putting on shorts and running in the Boston Marathon, tomorrow morning.
UPDATE; SUNDAY NIGHT
After a gray day with temperatures never above freezing, (very unusual for mid April), and a freezing drizzle glazing over everything, it has suddenly started snowing just as I was thinking of going to bed. A quick check of the radar shows this:
The snow over Boston and Hartford is unexpected, as the rain-snow line was suppose to be further north. Also the blob of moisture came straight up from the south, so you’d think it would create rain or freezing rain. But it ran into such a wall of cold air it is creating snow. Let me check the map.
The map also makes it look like we should be getting south or at least southeast winds, judging from the isobars. But we are getting “cross isobaric winds”, due to that big arctic high pressure over Hudson Bay. We are getting northeast winds. You’d think there was a storm southeast of Cape Cod, rather than a storm due west, over the Great Lakes. This is nuts.
I’m glad I’m not a weathermen. They are only now moving the “winter weather advisories” south, and still have no mention of snow. Locally it is snowing to beat the band. My thermometer must be malfunctioning. It says it is 24°F (-4°C) out. Let me check nearby official sites.
Nearby it is 25°F in Ringe, New Hampshire. Even if it warms up, it looks like a messy Monday Morning. If it doesn’t warm up….
It seems even more unlikely I’ll be donning shorts and running in the Boston Marathon.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE
Got out of bed and checked weather on cellphone:
Hmm. More snow on Friday. But next Monday? Sunny and over sixty! Alleluia!
Well, I can dream, can’t I? But today is today. Trudge out to car:
Arrive at work:
Back roads are not suppose to be snow-covered in mid-April, but the snow fell during the night, when the sun could have no effect. As soon as the sun gets high in the sky it will penetrate the clouds and the roads will likely catch the rays and turn slushy and wet. Right now they are packed snow and very slippery. I think the road crews were caught off guard. Many trucks already had the plows removed from the fronts and the salters and sanders removed from the back. The roads were actually clearer in January.
Surprisingly, the weather is so absurdly bad people were cheerful, in a definitely ironic way. Hopefully the children haven’t put their snowsuits away, with our playground looking like this:
Hopefully this snow will be swift to melt away, though it is amazingly sleety and dense. Shoveling two inches feels like hoisting ten. But as this snow lasts, covering all of New Hampshire and much of northern Massachusetts, it may cause an upward blip in the rather amazing snow-cover graph for North America. Ice-age, anyone?
As a final note, though I know it will deeply disappoint many, I have decided against making an appearance in shorts in the Boston Marathon, today. I’d consider sled dogs, but it has turned to a cold rain down there.
Currently the snow doesn’t show on radar, but it is out there, fine like drizzle, and gusted by a nasty northeast wind. Thunder is heading up our way from down by Philadelphia. If it gets interesting, I may update again.