It has been a battle to even build a snowman this winter, with strong thawing so frequent. The children at our Childcare love an igloo, but often they have melted away even before the walls were halfway up. We did complete one in January, but it collapsed in a cold rain and soon was just the white letter “O” on the brown lawn. The one above is our most recent effort, over six feet tall and called “The Leaning Tower of Igloo”. It is also “The Last Igloo”, for two reasons. One reason is that it is March, and the sun is higher and stronger. Though we still have more than a month before pussy willows begin to bud, the snow shrinks so swiftly at times it is hardly worth shoveling it. The second reason is that I’m getting a bit old for such effort.
Not that a man is ever too old for a snow fort. I don’t doubt some stuffy bankers think they are beyond such childish sport, but that is because they never test their resolve. They stick to their daily duty and never dare leave the sidewalks and scoop a handful of sticky snow. If they did they’d realize they were like an alcoholic sipping just a single sip of whisky. Once they started they could not stop.
Nor is it that snow brings out the child in a man. In fact it is the other way around. Snow brings out the man in a child. There is something deeply civilized about the urge to build. After all, what is the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome but Michelangelo’s glorified igloo.
Of course, I am no Michelangelo. Maybe I could be, if I had so many working for me, but I had to move the slushy snow, and my back stiffened up so I couldn’t flex as well, which is why the two sides don’t match.
Nature seemed to approve, as a retrograde gale up in Labrador brought us subfreezing gales and turned the slush to rock, and crusted the snow so the kids could run over the snow without sinking. Rather than melting my igloo nature preserved it. And the kids seemed to approve of the igloo as well.
Not that it will last. But the maple syrup other old men are tapping from trees will not last either. Some things are not made to last, but rather to be enjoyed, and hopefully this sonnet is such a thing.
The trees have sprouted buckets, and also tubes
Of modern plastic, as maple weather
Freezes the thaw each night, and frugal rubes
Get rich off sap. With skin like old leather
They concoct ambrosia, and city people
Escape concrete to inhale fragrant steam
And to worship, without any steeple,
A lifestyle so long lost it's like a dream.
At daybreak a big man can walk upon
A crust on snow that was practically slush
The day before, breathing puffs in the still dawn,
But I don't inspect buckets in that blush.
As winter birds sing spring songs, what I do
Isn't work; it's the play of my last igloo.
I thought that if we saw brown outs this winter they would be the sort that afflict an over-stressed electrical grid, due to Fraudulent Biden’s weird war against the middle class and fossil fuels. Instead it was a far more pleasant brown out, brought on by the melting of nearly all white snow. The benign pattern (unless you operate a ski resort) had storms passing to our west, swinging warm fronts past us and placing us in a warm southwest flow. When secondaries formed on the cold front or as “skippers” on warm fronts they never bombed out until safely out to sea.
In the map above the high pressure to the right is what I call the Bermuda High (though modern sorts seem to now call it the Southeast Ridge) and it is separated from the Azores High by a mid-Atlantic trough which has seemingly stolen all our thunder so far this winter, sucking in the biggest storms and coldest air. Our arctic air tends to be in that lobe of the Bermuda High extending north of the warm front, and has a hard time coming west as a back door cold front. However the above map has an actual arctic high coming via Calgary and the Alberta Clipper route, which suggests the brown out may not be forever and we had best enjoy it.
Lydia, my last surviving goat, decided she could leave her hay-pile and heat lamp in the shed and check out the garden, for some dried corn stalks, which she for some reason relished.
Goats like to be part of a herd, and Lydia doesn’t like being the last goat, and seeks a new herd when possible at out Childcare.
We definitely had rebounded from our cold shot, and hats and mittens were discarded all over the hillside, but a glance at the long range forecast warned another shot was in the works.
The high temperature of 39 on Tuesday was for early in the day, and the forecast snow was for late in the day, so everyone planned accordingly. Personally I planned to use the last of the brown out to load the porch and woodboxes, without annoying my wife by tracking snow all over the place. But, the best laid plans of mice and men…
And just like that the brown out was over. The question was, would this inch of fluff be swiftly melted by a resurgence of southwest winds?
Judging from the long range forecast above, a brief resurgence might have been expected Wednesday, but cold seemed to be pressing. The Bermuda High, suppressed to Florida in the map below, is in a fight with high pressure either side of Hudson Bay which, rather than being blithely pushed east, is starting to dig in its heels and do some pushing, showing signs of turning into a “blocking high pressure” which prevents lows (such as the one over the Great Lakes in the map below) from cruising north, but rather squishes them southeast, often as secondary “skipper” developments along the coast (as is the case in the map below.)
What happened was that low over the Great Lakes dissipated to a blip that barely gave us a flurry, as the coastal feature rocketed east to become a mid Atlantic Storm, which is what has happened over and over this winter, but the front it left behind was very different. It was a long warm front to the next storm, moving out of the Rocky Mountains. Formerly the Bermuda High would have whipped that front north, but now there was formidable Canadian High Pressure to the north, and even a weak cold front pressing south over New England. Battle lines were being drawn.
Yesterday provided just enough of a window to stack wood with a minimum of mess to my wife’s floors, but the blue sky grayed and by evening a silent snow was falling. By this morning I had three and a half inches of snow and sleet to shovel, and Lydia goat was nowhere to be seen. Smarter than I, she was basking under her heat lamp.
We have been spared the more brutal side of winter (so far) but there have been a couple of cold shots, brief reminders we’re not off the hook. They are like a left jab in a fist fight, quick and then gone, but you notice you are a bit dizzy.
The cold air really has had to work to reach us, as the pattern wants to divert it all out to sea. A couple of maps will demonstrate how the cold air had to back track from Baffin Bay, rather than taking the normal route down the east slopes of the Canadian Rockies from Alaska. Then cold swiftly is sloughed off to the east, and we are back into a more benign southwest flow.
The first map shows a bombing-out low in the upper right corner, in Baffin bay, delivering much of the arctic air associated with it into the Atlantic east of Labrador, but a little is leeching west into the northern lobe of a mostly moderated high (“polar” rather than “arctic”) which is following a mild storm crossing New England. Because New England is in the warm sector, and because the following high pressure is not particularly cold, the weather bureau had to be on its toes to alert people to the sneaky cold coming around the top. They did a good job, but people still got caught off guard. Sneaky cold is called “sneaky” for a reason.
My own experience was perhaps typical. At 2:30 we were still enjoying near-record warmth at 55 degrees, (12.8 Celsius), and I was enjoying walking around fifteen pounds lighter because I wasn’t wearing my heavy coat and snow pants and bulky boots. I didn’t want to bother with that stuff if I didn’t have to, and thought I might get away with it. What could go wrong? I had only two and a half hours before the last child would be picked up, and then I’d be free for the weekend.
Yes indeed, as I thought that, there was, if not an ominous drum-roll, an actual, distant roll of thunder to the north. The clash between cold and warm was creating midwinter thunder, which is always a delight to me, but not a very good sign if you expect balmy weather to continue.
I mentioned to a teen-aged intern working with me that we might want to get rain-gear and warmer clothes, and she scoffed, and I said I’d be right back. I’d left most of my winter garb at home, but did locate an enormous mad-bomber rabbit-fur hat, and a couple of huge mittens, and walked back out looking like a slender lollypop with big hands. At age 70 I don’t care what I look like as much as I care about staying warm. However the teen-aged intern did care about looks, even though the wind was starting to whip cold showers and the temperature began dropping like a rock. My head and hands stayed toasty, but the rest of me quickly got drenched and cold.
Soon sleet began mixing with the rain, but also sunbeams. A big, high rainbow arched across the purpled sky. The wind gusted so strongly it even lifted the soddened leaves, which had been flattened by snow but exposed by the thaw. Most of the kids delighted in the crazy weather, staying warm by racing about in some sort of fantasy brawl involving sticks that were lasers, and fleeing many pursuing invisible aliens. However one little toddler felt the sucky weather sucked, and wanted to be picked up and held.
Both the intern and myself could commiserate with the toddler, because we had shared her sickness, due to a thoughtless mother who had dumped the little child off when the child should have stayed home, early in the week. We had comforted the child then, both had caught the child’s cold, and then the intern stayed home a couple days as I worked at less than a hundred percent, and now we were comforting the child for the final forty minutes before her mother came to pick her up, as the wind whipped and sleet pelted and wet leaves swirled.
I gallantly unzipped my wet coat to wrap the toddler, (but actually confess it warmed me as well), and attempted to distract the child from the misery we were midst. The rainbow worked. For around three minutes. Then I sent the child in with the drenched intern to help another intern do the end-of-week cleaning indoors.
Then I turned my attention to the other children, who were not bothered a bit by the abysmal weather. As they raced about I kept myself moving. The cold isn’t so bad if you keep moving. I picked up sticks the wind had blown from trees and put them by the place we have campfires, and picked up the gloves and hats kids were leaving strewn about. As their parents pulled into the parking lot I alerted the kids it was time to go, and handed them their hats and gloves. They all looked radiant. I felt ashen gray. Sometimes the last ten minutes of a Friday is the longest. I was shuddering, and wet to the skin.
But then the final parent came, and hip-hip-hooray, I was done! I headed home and skipped my usual Friday beer, opting for a half-shot of brandy. Then I loaded both fires, and even turned up the propane heat, but I couldn’t stop shuddering. It was 28 degrees outside, (-2 Celsius) which meant it had dropped 27 degrees in three or four hours, but it was 72 inside, so why was I still shuddering? Hmmm…
When I was young my mother, a trained and “registered” nurse, had a dread of something called a “relapse”. To my great annoyance, she would make me stay in bed a full day after my temperature returned normal after a sickness, to avoid a “relapse.”
Apparently relapses were something nurses had learned about during the Spanish ‘Flu. If you hopped out of bed too fast, you could wind up back in bed for an extended stay. Or die. I found the concept somewhat mysterious. Relapses only seemed to be a danger when I felt fine and could hear my friends playing outside. On Monday mornings, when I felt awful and did not want to go to school, there was never any danger of a relapse and I got booted from bed.
However now it seemed I was experiencing a genuine relapse. I had babied myself through some ailment all week, and was on the road to recovery, but then had stood out in arctic blasts looking like a lollypop with large hands. My mother was likely rolling in her grave, if she was watching, but hopefully heaven doesn’t look backwards.
I knew I must be feverish when I had absolutely no desire for beer, and just desired bed. Basically I slept like a rock Friday night, snoozed all Saturday, shivering, (except for spells after taking a couple aspirin when I felt wonderful waves of warmth). I only arose to tend fires and use the bathroom and ingest chicken soup. (My wife later informed me the teen-aged intern spent her Saturday the same way, which made me feel a bit less like a frail, old fossil.)
Despite sleeping Friday night, and most of Saturday, I slept right through Saturday night, and now am bounding back, revived. Can’t remember when I last slept so much. And now I look at the weather maps to see what I’ve missed.
The north winds that gave us our cold shot (with temperatures to 17 [-8 Celsius] Saturday morning) are now relegated to the upper right corner of the map, up in Baffin Bay, and again are pumping the cold air down into the Atlantic to our east. And again we are in the benign southwest flow, and could again see temperatures in the fifties tomorrow.
And that’s pretty much the news from here, except for a bit of thinking I did while feverish. I likely should quit here and make this like a Lake Wobegone post where “all the children are above normal”. In fact I’ll make a break below, so readers can bail if they wish to avoid an old man’s cantankerous rambling.
My feverish thinking involved all that cold air that has been missing us, and chilling the Atlantic. I’ve noticed the water isn’t as chilled by those winds nearly as much as I expected. Not only here, but on the far side of the Pacific, civilized areas have been spared the wrath of winter as blasts of cold air have been diverted out to sea. Yet the seas show little sign of being cooled by months of blasts, except at the very edges, where the sea-ice extends outwards a bit more than usual.
You can see the extended sea-ice in Baffin Bay, or in the Sea of Okhotsk on the Pacific Side, but only spots of blue east of Japan or south of Greenland. The air doesn’t really effect the water. However the water hugely effects the air.
Joseph D’Aleo wonderfully described the amazing and explosive power warm water has when cold air moves over it in a paper he wrote. I urge the scientifically inclined to seek it out, but I’ll just nab a couple illustrations from the paper which demonstrate the power the ocean has to generate super-storms. The first illustration shows cold air like a lid on a hot ocean.
The second shows when the lid is blown off and so-called “bombogenisis” occurs.
As I lay in bed thinking it seemed, to my feverish common sense, that water should have more power than air, because air is dispersed molecules bouncing about far apart, while water is densely packed molecules close together. In terms of molecules, air is hugely outnumbered by water. When cold air tries to chill water, you have a lone cold molecule taking on ten-thousand warm molecules. But when that same warm water tries to warm cold air you have ten-thousand taking on one. Who do you suppose will win such a battle?
The water will win, unless the water is chilled to a point where it is water no more. Once sea-ice forms, the air is no longer utterly changed by the ocean. But away from sea-ice air is utterly changed. It is not only warmed, but is supercharged with the most potent of greenhouse gases, namely water vapor. In the above illustration the air is not merely warmed, but also moistened.
Though my locale has been spared this winter, I have studied what I call “fisherman maps” of the Atlantic and Pacific, watching the amazing storms few care about because they seldom effect us. Each of these storms demonstrate water having a huge effect on air, as air, to be honest, has a minuscule effect on water. While it may be true winds whip up water, it was the water’s warmth and moisture that made those winds in the first place. Water wins, in terms of power.
Such super-storms are not rare. It is actually rare to have a pacific “fisherman map” as storm-free as today’s…
…which has no storms and only two gales. But note it has three “developing storms” and two “developing gales”. Winter brews storms by sending cold air over warm water, but the power is not in the cold air but in the warmer water.
Lastly, the power sent aloft by super-storms is not merely some sort of insipid water vapor, as if water vapor was an “inert” greenhouse gas. Water vapor also holds energy, though it is “latent energy”. It is not heat-energy measured by a thermometer, nor wind-energy measured by an anemometer. Rather it is latent, and lurking, and able to perplex and confuse all who downplay water vapor, in favor of any gas which holds no latent energy. Such as?
Such as CO2, which makes up a small part of our air. Only one in 2500 molecules in our air is CO2, and all the changes to levels of CO2 people fret about do not change that “one” to “two”. (320 ppm to 420 ppm may change “one” to “one point three”, but it remains a tiny fraction of 2500).
As I lay in my sickbed I wondered who could believe one molecule in 2500 could warm an ocean when an entire arctic blast could not chill it. Instead the ocean warmed the arctic blast, and turned its bone-dry air into a super-storm drenched with moisture.
If air is so slow to change the temperature of water, and water is so quick to change the air, why would we look to one 2500th of the air as a reason the water has warmed?
The oceans have warmed for the past sixty years, which should lead to an out-gassing of CO2, because warmer waters are less able to hold dissolved CO2. Even so, that out-gassing is a minuscule amount among greater gases that also have a minuscule effect, as air is outnumbered, in terms of molecules, compared to water. Also, if oceans are warmer, they must also be “out-gassing” more water vapor, which happens to cancel out much of CO2’s “greenhouse effect”. Yet all of this is like fretting about a flea on a stallion. The true big kahuna is the sea.
The argument that a tiny, trace gas controlled the enormity of our climate demanded, from the start, overwhelming evidence, because the idea basically sounds nutty. It was as nutty as the idea of drifting continents. You had better get your ducks in a row before you propose continents drifting about. But in the case of drifting continents scientists got their ducks in a row. In the case of Global Warming scientists just got nasty, which divorced them from science, so they were not scientists any more. Instead they just became nutty. Maybe to some degree richer, but nutty. Maybe to some degree holding prestigious positions at universities, but nutty. Perhaps holding some backroom power in government bureaucracies, but nutty.
Being somewhat nutty in my own way, perhaps I have a word of warning to rich nuts in prestigious positions of power. You can bully and bullshit all you want, but, as a “childcare professional” I must sadly inform you, you are transparent to the young. The young are not merely impressionable clay you can mold with nutty propaganda. They innately recognize a lie by the dead way it makes a heart feel. Then, because you represent a dead way, they will turn away from you, hungry for life, hungry for something that does not involve money or prestige or power, but what could that be?
Hmm…It seems I heard, through the fog of my fever, some sort of murmuring about some sort of stirrings of a “revival” someplace called Asbury…
…But of course you insist those “revivalist” folk are silly. What is not silly is to believe one molecule out of 2500 of already-thin air warms the mile-deep oceans. Or so your Nuttiness insists.
Begging your Nutiness’s pardon, but perhaps you do not know how you look, through the eyes of honest youth. You say what? CO2 is a poison gas but air by derailed trains is safe? Can you have actually said that? Need you have your nose pushed into it like a dog?
An interesting aspect of Global Warming is that, when you scrutinize the statistics, it turns out the increases are never where ordinary people would notice them. Not that people would notice a single degree of temperature change, but such overall, world-wide changes largely occur either where people don’t live, or when they are asleep. Most of the warming that sways the “world average” occurs in the arctic, where very few live, or at night, where the daily low can be a higher low than usual.
In other words, when you read that the (much altered) statistics for the United States show a recent period was the “warmest ever” (or since records have been kept), it does not mean we are sweltering like the poor farmers did during the Dust Bowl. Daily high temperatures are nowhere near as hot as they were in the 1930’s. Nearly all the high temperature records were set back then. How, then, is it warmer? It is warmer because it does not get as cool at night?
Night before last we had an opportunity to set a new record for the warmest low temperature for the date, due to being wonderfully placed in the current pattern. A storm was bombing out just east of Labrador, (at the right edge of the map below), but the discharge of arctic air was largely to our east, and the cold likely was more of a concern to the coral isle of Bermuda than us. Why? Because an actual Bermuda High, associated with balmy summer days, had formed, bracketed by the Newfoundland storm to our east and a Great Lakes storm to our west. We were nestled in a southwest flow, seen in the isobars of the map below.
I am to some degree excited by setting records, albeit in a cynical way. On one hand I don’t think setting records shows any “trend”, because we largely only have records going back a hundred years, which means, all things being equal, each year has the same one-in-a-hundred chance of setting the record. On average the odds are that every place should set between three and four records a year.
However Concord, New Hampshire has records going back to 1869, 154 years, and to set a “record low high” there would be good click-bait for my blog, which needs all the help it can get because I am Shadow Banned, for I don’t subscribe to the politically correct balderdash about Global Warming, (and several other politically correct balderdashes.)
While I confess it is pretty cynical to see things in terms of whether they are “click-bait” or not, I also confess that I myself am attracted to what is sensational more than what is merely everyday, although sometimes the everyday is more praiseworthy.
Even in ugly events, we gravitate towards the war in the Ukraine and the earthquake in Turkey, and ignore lives being wasted in our own communities due to the ugliness of various types of everyday ignorance. Generous people will give to help people far away, even while ignoring people trapped by lingering bitterness right next door.
In wars and in natural disasters, there are examples of heroic behavior that restores our faith in the goodness latent in all people. I sometimes wonder what heroic behavior would look like in my neighborhood, without a war or natural disaster. Might it not be as simple as reaching out to a discouraged neighbor and giving them courage? Such behavior might not make the newspapers, but is praiseworthy and does not go unnoticed in heaven.
One reason I persist with writing, even though Shadow Banning has proved highly effective in my case, is because I’d rather be noticed in heaven than on the front pages of Fake News. Also, being fake just doesn’t appeal to me. It just seems so…so…so fake. What really seems sensational is Truth…which causes trouble even in First Grade.
In any case, to get back to being cynical, I was a bit excited we might set a new “record high low” as I slumped in my armchair by the stove, after a long day at my Childcare. I briefly scanned the Fake News about shooting missiles at weather balloons after they had completed their spy-missions, and telling people poison gas from derailed trains was safe but CO2 was a poison gas. Nuts. Then I turned to the weather maps, which are more exciting simply because they are the Truth, and also I like any weather events that are out of the ordinary, for they reveal what the ordinary does not.
In the balmy (for winter) southwest wind the temperatures didn’t drop as the sun did. In Concord the “record low high” was 40 and the winds kept temperatures up near 50 (Fahrenheit). It seemed unlikely the temperatures could drop ten degrees. But then…..(drum roll)…..the wind died.
If you look back up at the above map you will notice New Hampshire is still back towards the crest of the ridge of high pressure, and not yet under the cloud deck of the advancing storm, nor fully in its southwest flow. Therefore, for the start of the night, “radiational cooling” could occur.
Radiational Cooling is Truth, and therefore very cool. Without going into Plancke’s Law, or long-wave versus short-wave radiation, it basically is the fact a clear sky at night sucks up heat from all below. In a summer heatwave, this is a good reason to leave your house and, swabbed in mosquito repellent, sleep as naked as legally possible on the back yard’s lawn. The sweltering heat will radiate away from you, up into the starry void of outer space. But in the dead of winter this same heat-loss is why the coldest temperatures occur when sky is clear and there is no wind, (and wind non-farms are motionless and produce no power to warm with).
When it is neither summer nor winter, farmers agonize about how frost might destroy their dreams, and often destruction is a matter of less than a degree, brought on by a lack of wind and by radiational cooling.
Radiational Cooling can be amazingly local. I have seen frost on the hood of my truck but not the windshield. I’ve seen it in the lower side of my garden but not the upper. And like all farmers I’ve attempted to intervene, when possible, and to prevent frost from damaging.
One way is to run a sprinkler. Making everything drenched means there is more water to freeze, and freezing water involves the release of latent heat, which occurs during the phase change from liquid to solid, and, when the temperatures are only a tenth of a degree below the freezing point, the release of even a small amount of latent heat can actually save a crop.
Another way is to disturb the dead calm that heightens the effects of radiational cooling. The same amount of heat is lost to a clear sky in a wind, but calm localizes the loss. In some cases frost only forms in still air below the level of your knees, and by burning campfires at strategic parts of your garden you create updrafts, which demand compensating downdrafts of milder air, and again the crop is saved.
This is likely one reason why the phenomenon of “urban heat islands” exists. In the winter, during still conditions, every house creates an updraft just like a campfire does. This messes up the radiational cooling which formerly occurred at that location, and the weather station records higher nighttime lows, even some “Record High Lows”.
However recent studies show that the most dramatic examples of “Urban Heat Islands” occur not in Urban, but Rural, areas. When a place, that once had a single farm house midst fields, has only a few suburban abodes built in those fields, the disruption of radiational cooling is most pronounced.
This does not change the amount of heat in the total atmosphere, but rather stirs the air at the very bottom, so the air by our thermometers can’t measure only stratified, still air at the very bottom, with warmer air out of reach up above, but the rather the same two airs mixed. It looks warmer, but isn’t.
In which case, to return to the topic, I should have had high hopes that a small city like Concord, New Hampshire could create enough updrafting to halt the radiational cooling. But the temperatures seemed to be taking a nose dive down through the 40’s.
I was weary from work, (children can be exhausting) and though I might have liked to have stayed up to watch Concord’s thermometer, my eyelids became like lead. I was a bad reporter and a bad scientist, because I said, “the heck with this” and went to bed.
Being an old man, I had reason to arise in the middle of the night, and as I did I blearily checked the temperature in Concord. Blast. It was 39. It had just missed having a Record Low High. No “click bait” for me. But then I glanced at the clock. It was 1:30 AM. Hope revived. Perhaps it reached only 41 by midnight, which would set a “record low high” for yesterday, if not today.
The house was too warm, despite the wood stoves being shut down to “low”. However I like to keep them going, to “keep the edge off” when the cold returns. (It is easier to keep a house cozy when the furniture is warm.) So I checked the wood stoves between yawns, and one looked like it could use a log, so I stumbled to the porch to get one, and also to check my own minimax thermometer.
As I stepped out I noted the big moon’s light was muted. An overcast of alto-stratus was swarming north ahead of the advancing storm. Also I could hear sighing in the pines, as winds picked up: Far from ideal conditions for radiational cooling. And, when I checked my minimax thermometer, I saw temperatures locally had jumped four degrees, to 46 from 42, (the 42 recorded at an earlier point in the night when radiational cooling was obviously stronger).
But what about Concord? Did their temperatures, down in their river valley, also rise four degrees, from 35 to 39? Or are they far enough north and east of me that the cloud cover and wind hadn’t reached them yet?
This can be determined by people who do not have a business to run, and wood stoves to tend to. But in my humble opinion what it shows is how the records can be swayed by minor local influences other than CO2, and are fickle, even whimsical, and amount to yet another variable, among the too-many-variables we seek to understand, as we seek to understand the chaos called “weather.”
(Anyone who calls our current level of understanding “settled science” cannot tell an ass from an elbow. )
However, for “click bait”, I’ll say the cloud cover and wind did not reach Concord, and that they set a new “record high low.” Yowza! Yowza! Read all about it, here on my blog!
However I will not say this means you need to stop using gas stoves.
Thirty-two years ago, my wife and I ran a lunch counter and snack bar at a small local cross-country ski area, and weather like we’ve been having just about ruined us. Just about every penny we had was invested in food, and cocoa, and just about every bill possible for us to receive through the mail was unpaid. Sunshine has never filled me with such gloom, nor mild weather ever seemed so depressing. We had enough food to feed a small army, so I knew the kids would be fed, and I was young and strong and could cut firewood to keep the house warm, unless I ran out of gas for my chainsaw. I doubted the gas station would even sell me a gallon on credit. My pride was shredded. My faith was slumping.
Then we got snow, and skiers appeared in droves. And they get hungry. It then was such a wonder to me that people would pay a dollar fifty for a baked potato with a dab of sour cream that cost me about fifteen cents to make, and that they would smile and praise me for being so much more “reasonable” than other ski areas that charged three dollars for the same potato.
And we sold things much better than a baked potato. My wife’s chili could raise the dead, or at least the dead-tired skier. And people gladly paid a dollar for a single one of her cookies, which were big but not that big. We made money hand over fist. In a single day we made enough to pay off all our overdue utility bills and our rent. So, I know what it feels like to whiplash from abject poverty to well-being in twelve hours.
The thing that struck me was that I really could not take the credit for the fact that I went from feeling like a weasel to feeling like a responsible father. I did not control the snow. In fact, I was more or less a gambler, and for a while my luck was rotten, and then I hit a lucky streak. And gamblers who escape debt (and the wrath of loan sharks) through a lucky streak are notorious for speaking of “higher powers” who had mercy on them.
You can call such talk “superstition” all you want, but I have noticed that the people who do so tend to be financially secure. They are in a sense cursed, by safety. Where a businessman knows about “risk”, (which is, in a sense, a gamble), the financially secure only are involved with “safe” investments. They “never touch their capital” and “live off the interest”, until they have created a cold universe for themselves where they inure themselves from mercy. Or, they live that frosty way until some financial bubble pops, some market crashes, some thief plunders. Then they suddenly enter the world of “superstition”. Mercy only matters to those who need it.
This winter the mercy I, and others like me, needed was not snow. Rather it was a lack of snow. We did not need cold, but mildness. Why? Because the madness of “green” politics, and its foaming hatred of fossil fuels, was sending the price of staying warm through the roof. If the weather had been merciless, few could have fallen back on using firewood like I am able to do. If we had been hit by a weather pattern such as the winter of 1976-1977’s, things would have precipitated a crisis. The “power grid” would have been overwhelmed. There would have been rotating black outs and brown outs, and also the elderly on fixed incomes simply would not have been able to pay their bills. But did this happen? Not so far. Instead, there has been mercy.
Was it due to Global Warming? Not really. Global temperatures (according to UAH) last January were only a half degree warmer than they were during the ice-age-scare of the 1970’s:
If the weather patterns had taken the form of the winter of 1976-1977, it wouldn’t have mattered much if the temperatures of the frigid blasts were a half degree warmer. Misery would have been worse, in fact, due to the dunderheaded policy of “green” politicians. However, we (so far) have received mercy. The weather patterns have been benign.
Not that the pattern has been truly “zonal” and kept the cold air up at the Pole, for there have been some shots of very cold air to the south, indicative of a “meridenal” pattern, however largely these shots have been into the oceans, and largely have missed the poor people most likely to be harmed. (The poor Kurds freezing after their terrible earthquake being the exception and not the rule. They sure could use some mercy.)
As an example of how the shots miss my area, look at the “fisherman’s map” below:
What this map demonstrates is a pattern I’ve watched over and over this winter. Namely, a weak ripple passes over my neck of the woods but, when it gets out to sea, it explodes into a “DVLPG STORM”. To its north, at the very top of the map, by the west coast of Greenland, is “HEAVY FRZY SPRAY”, indicative of very cold air able to freeze the salt water which a fishing boat plunges through to the boat’s decks and rigging to such a degree the craft can capsize. That extremely cold air is sucked south behind the storm, but just far enough east of New England that we are spared all but a glancing blow.
In the above map the lobe of high pressure following the exploding storm has two sourses. The “H” over Labrador is arctic, and will largely miss us, while the “H” over Cape Hattaras is “polar” and very moderated and includes Pacific-warmed air. That is what we will be getting, in the southwest flow behind the high pressure. (Temperatures below are Fahrenheit, of course.)
Even Saturday’s temperatures are slightly “above normal” for us, so you can imagine the mercy of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. It is destroying our Childcare’s igloo and many snowmen, but the slushy sledding continues, even without sleds, as if children were otters.
And youth can still walk on water:
In other words, due to mercy, the ordinary lives of simple people goes on. The inflation and higher energy bills haven’t ruined people in the area where I live, and it hasn’t been able to do so, at least partially, because the winter hasn’t been as cruel as it could have been. (So far.)
Now here’s the funny thing: Such mercy has no mercy on those who wanted there to be suffering. Some “green” ideologs really want people dependent on fossil fuels to “pay”. Their zeal is so ugly that they think a significant decrease in the world’s population would be a “good” thing, and not involve the ugliness of genocide. And therefore, they are likely very upset the weather has been kindly. They roll their eyes to heaven and cry out, “Have You no mercy!”
Or maybe not. I have a suspicion most are Atheists. It is sort of hard to roll your eyes to heaven when you don’t believe such beauty exists, or to ask for mercy when you believe mercy is a superstition.
After fifteen years as a “child care professional” I’ve dealt with my fair share of tantrums, and deem myself, if not an expert, then rather good at dealing with them. They, (or it), are (is) basically a person who has been pushed past their limit, and who has “lost it.” Sometimes it’s the child and not their parent.
The word “tantrum” itself is sort of interesting, for it likely is a word with multiple roots, which is to say similar-sounding words from different languages with vaguely applicable meanings were spliced together into the word we now wield.
One root is French, and means the noise made by trumpets, a fanfare, the French “trantran”, an imitative word for hunting horns, or an uproar. A second root is the German root “tand” which described vanity, especially shallow and even silly vanity. And a third root is Welsh, “tant”, which means to be stretched thin, and can be used for tempers, the strings of a musical instrument, or the tendons of our body. In fact the Latin derivation for “tantrum” may be from what gives us the word “tendon”, the verb “tendere” which means, “to stretch thin”.
In any case, all that reason went into what means losing reason, and what we locally call, “throwing a spaz.”
One reason I think I am good at handling tantrums is that I myself would be the pot calling the kettle black if I pretended I was above “losing it” from time to time. In a sense my life has been one long tantrum against a society which seems increasingly nuts. It is everyone else’s fault; their insanity makes me insane.
When I see a small child losing it I remind myself I may be in the presence of genius. Winston Churchill was said to be a hellion at school; his classmates remembered cringing and thinking, “Don’t say it, Winny; don’t say it,” but he would always say it, whatever “it” was, to the teacher, which meant, in those days of corporal punishment, he had to be caned. However part of his genius was his ability to stand up to dictators.
I would also be a hypocrite if I denied the fact that, from time to time, I myself haven’t just blown off my responsibility and played hooky, in a sense acting out a tantrum. In July of 2017 I wrote a long post called “The Forthright of July” about how all the people who promised to help me weed the garden had skipped town, and were enjoying freedom as I was a slave to the garden, and it ended with me skipping the weeding as well, and writing this sonnet:
Going to the beach on a hot July
Mid-morning with the stain of brass heat draped
On every bough and street, and in my eye
Even shadows hazed gold, nothing escaped
The heat…but I am. Like a boy
Playing hooky, the consequences fade
In the face of surging, giggling joy.
While it may be true we’ll sleep in beds unmade,
Face stern principles, grip hungover foreheads,
That’s all far away. Now we’re on our way
To the beach, and like flowering dawn sheds
The dark dreads of night, joy drives gloom away.
We’re all going to die, but boys playing hooky
Have light in their eye, and life’s their cookie.
Of course, there are consequences to playing hooky. If you don’t weed you wind up with a weedy garden; you reap what you sow. If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime. If you have your way you must pay. That is something I must communicate to the small child who is throwing a tantrum.
However one element of a tantrum is a refusal to communicate. The child is fed up with talk. They want their way and don’t care what you say.
The State of New Hampshire requires a certain amount of “adult education” for teachers, which is something I could tantrum about, but usually don’t. When I first opened my Childcare with my wife I’d already raised five children, coached boy’s teams, taught Sunday School, and volunteered as my wife ran a small town’s recreation department and swimming pool, yet some of the young women teaching “adult education” were half my age. (Now, as I approach my seventieth birthday, they’d be a third my age.)
My teachers were fresh out of college, had no children, and were brimming with bright ideas which tended to be contrary to the bright ideas which were in fashion ten years earlier. For example, the idea of “time outs” was all the rage for a while, but then suddenly were called “oppressive” and were frowned upon. Likewise “permissiveness” seems to come into fashion until it is called “spoiling”.
In actual fact one needs to use “time outs” when they work, and avoid them when they don’t work. No single approach works; one shouldn’t be swayed to one side and a single approach; one needs a full repertoire, and sometimes even that isn’t enough, and intuition must supply some new approach out of the blue. However I did attend the “adult education classes”, if only to learn what new laws I was breaking.
One law I broke involved “physical restraint”. When we first opened our childcare people were terribly worried about “abuse”. Small children are very physical, but even hugging was frightening to some, who feared sexual perversion. We all needed to be finger-printed and get background checks, before we were even allowed on the premises. (Even a farmhand who shoveled the stables on weekends when we were closed was officially supposed to be fingerprinted, though I broke that law at times.) Any sort of corporal punishment was taboo, and even to physically grab a child and snatch them from danger was seen as a last resort, (as if one had time to carefully analyze during such an emergency.) However when a child was throwing a tantrum and disturbing the rest of the children I’d grab the little sucker and cart him outside, ignoring his or her screeching and caterwauling, and also likely ignoring the latest law.
I was very gentle but very firm. Once things had reached a certain point I felt it was wrong to give in, for it was like attempting to appease a small Adolph Hitler. I reached this conclusion when we first opened our Childcare, before I had learned many of the tricks I now use to distract the child from refusing to communicate, luring them into a conversation.
This particular child had learned to throw a fit to get his way at home, and needed to learn that different behavior is required in public, where he was one of twelve small children. Like many children he liked routine, and complained when things didn’t happen in the same order, but he also didn’t like the part of the daily routine where “play time” turned into “circle time”.
“Circle time” involved singing songs and playing games which taught children a so-called “curriculum” involving learning colors, shapes, numbers, and opposites such as above-and-below. Personally I found such “curriculum” tedious and saw children learned the same things if you just used the words in other activities, but “circle time” did seem to teach a lot about having good manners and working as a team. However this little boy didn’t like putting away a toy truck and sitting in a circle. He had older brothers who taught him rude words, and looked at me with an innocent face and said, “Fuck circle time.” He had just turned three-years-old.
I knew the boy’s father would have just laughed, and might have even praised the lad, while the boy’s mother would have just rolled her eyes and walked away. However I decided to do battle, for, though I know one must chose their battles, this fellow was definitely testing a limit. Also I knew appeasement wouldn’t work. If I left him playing with his trucks and attempted to conduct circle time with the other eleven children and the other teacher, he would not play quietly in the corner, but would roar his truck through the middle of the circle. Therefore I broke several laws.
New Hampshire has a rule that states there must be an adult for every six children under five years old, but for a while the other teacher had to deal with eleven, for this small boy needed one-on-one attention. Other laws involve not hurting children, and children seem to instinctively know they deserve some sort of protection, and bellow “You’re hurting me!” even as you are being as tender as you can possibly be. “Ow! Ow! Ow! You are hurting me!” they screech as they claw, bite, kick you in the shins, and break your glasses. “Stop! You’re hurting! Aurrrrgh!” Meanwhile you remain calm, move them gently away from any walls they can bang their head against (while accusing you of banging their head against the wall), and attempt to engage them in a conversation, which of course is the one thing they don’t want to do.
They don’t want to talk. They want to get their way. The entry point to a dialog is usually an argument about who is hurting who. I very calmly say, “I am not hurting you. You are hurting yourself. Why are you doing that?” In the case of this small boy, to even ask such a question was infuriating, and made him all the more determined to get his way.
For an hour and a half I sat on the front steps on a lovey summer morning with the boy screaming. I wondered why some neighbor didn’t call the police, and also was starting to think I’d chosen the wrong battle. I wondered why the boy didn’t lose his voice. I wondered why the sky stayed blue and the sun still shone and the birds kept singing and the leaves stayed green. I began to yearn for an aspirin.
In a sense the boy had won, for he had completely avoided circle time, so I was asking him if he wanted to stop screaming and go in for snack time. However he seemed to feel if he stopped screaming he’d lose, and continued. I had assumed he’d lose at least his voice, after an hour, but he seemed inexhaustible. I continued to not give in, firm but gentle, asking quiet, repetitive questions. Then, abruptly, he grew quiet. I silently praised God, and then I asked the child, “All done?” He nodded. “Can you go inside and not scream?” He nodded again. I released my gentle grip and we stood up to go in, and as we walked inside he reached up and took my hand.
The interesting thing, to me at least, was that the boy never threw another tantrum. I imagined that in some way he had tested a limit, and met his match. Not that he didn’t complain and whine at times, but for the most part he was more cooperative than the other tykes, after our battle.
It became a lodestone for me, “Never give in to a tantrum”, however I’ve become better at avoiding such battles. And I’ve never again had one go on so long, since that summer day. (Sulking doesn’t count; sulking is not the same as a full blown tantrum.)
This Monday will be my seventieth birthday, and retirement is looming. When dealing with various tantrums the past month I’ve felt a surprising thing: I might actually miss them. Not that they are pleasant, but the communication that occurs within them is unique and interesting, once you get it going.
One law I suppose I break midst the battles of tantrums involves calling a child a “baby”. There is a fear doing so could scar the child’s psyche for the rest of their life. (What is the difference between a “scarred” and a “molded” character? I’m never entirely sure. What a drill sergeant calls “molding” nearly everyone else would call “scarring.”) Anyway, I’ve heard one way around “scarring” is to avoid saying the tantrumer is a baby, which is “labeling”, and instead to ask questions about how babies behave, as opposed to how “grown ups” behave; (five-year-olds consider themselves “grown ups”, when with three-year-olds.) I’ve broken the declines of a couple of tantrums the past month by utilizing the word “baby” in a hopefully correct way. If it was incorrect, all I can respond with is, “all is fair in love and tantrums”, and also, “if you don’t like it, fire me”.
One event involved a small girl throwing an absolute fit about having to put on snowpants when it was “too hot”. It was barely above freezing, and the snow was wet, which made snow pants all the more advisable, but she was flopping about on the floor and kicking her feet. I stroked my beard sagely and then inquired if she was behaving as a baby might behave. She glared at me and informed me her mother said she was THE baby. I then gestured at a two-year-old who was putting on her snowpants close by, and asked, “How about her?” The girl grinned and said, “No, she’s not a baby.” I nodded like Spok on the old Star Trek show and said, “Interesting. I see.” Then I had the five-year-old sit in the sun on the porch with snow pants she didn’t have to put on, unless she left the porch. After sulking a while she put them on and rushed off to play.
However I got an interesting insight from the exchange. I’ve read about how, in Victorian times, the upper classes in England, both women and men, required “dressers” in order to get into their fancy outfits. I’ve often thought what a pain (a royal pain) that would be. It would be bad enough to not know how to drive a car and to require a chauffeur, but to not know how to dress? But…I had just heard a five-year-old explain she was a baby while a two-year-old was not. Perhaps the girl was going to be the next Winston Churchill.
Then I had another exchange with a tough young boy who enjoys “rough-and-tumble” and often laughs at getting clobbered. I’ve seen him kick the shins of boys older and bigger than he is, and when he is promptly shoved and sent flying flat on his back, he laughs. It is as if he enjoys the attention so much he disregards the pain. However one time he was whining and whimpering about how his snow-pants were tucked wrongly into his boots. I had eleven other children to dress, and perhaps was frazzled, and a bit short. I said I’d get to him, but he wanted attention right NOW. So I pointed at the two-year-old, who once again was getting her snow pants on (because she takes great pride in doing things “all by her self,”) and I said, “A baby can do it.”
Apparently I’d thrown down a gauntlet, for the boy thrust out his jaw and challenged me with, “I’m not a baby! You’re the baby!” I smiled and said, “You know, you may be right. When you kids drive me crazy, maybe I do become a big baby.”
The boy’s face was split by an ear-to-ear grin, and he went outside guffawing loudly. Apparently he had forgotten all about how uncomfortable the cuffs of his snow pants were.
Another day; another tantrum dealt with.
After the tantrum, the small, tired child
Reaches a little hand up while walking
With the elder, secure that they'll be smiled
Upon. There is no need for talking.
The big hand gladly takes the little one's.
All is forgiven, and the elder's pleased
More by the gesture than by the loud drums
And cymbals of worship. All stress is eased
And the rich nothing of peace's well-being
Slants like sunbeams in the late afternoon
Of summertime: Gold more worth seeing
Than the cold kind. Do not say, "God, come soon,"
For He's already here. I, in my pride,
Have tantrumed, but He's here at my side.
It is an old, local, gallows-humor to say, when winter becomes especially obnoxious, “Have you surrendered yet?” You hear it at the local market, when someone walks in with a sour expression, having a bad-hair-day. Oddly, the soured expression usually vanishes and a grin flashes. It is as if the one accosted feels strangely recognized, and less alone in their misery. (You figure out the psychology. I’m too tired, having had to deal with so much slush and heavy snow my expression is likely soured, and also I’m having a bad-hair-day.)
Winter has a way of coming up with some new angle, some twist you have never seen before. I suppose that is one thing that keeps the dreariness from being too dreary: One looks about with interest for a new annoyance that was never expected.
This year the wonder is a strange lack of wind which has allowed the snow to build up on the boughs of trees to levels I haven’t seen before. Or, perhaps I once saw it, when I was young and could afford skiing, and rode ski-lifts to the tops of mountains where the rime could really build up on the spruce and fir trees, but they are trees designed to simply bend and curl over and endure the weight.
This is not the case for trees at lower altitudes. Eventually they break, and once you start to hear the cracking, sometimes like the report of a gun, coming from the woods, you start to notice the lights flickering, and perhaps make ready for the power to quit by filling a bathtub with water and lighting a candle.
My last local post described the storm that left our Childcare without power for nineteen hours. It did little to remove the snow from the trees, for the usual blast of northwest winds didn’t follow its passage. Instead the trees looked beautiful, and also dangerous.
Such heavy snow is sticky and great for making igloos, but perhaps such igloo-construction is unwise, for a man of my advanced years. In fact I know it is, for I was barely able to creak out of bed the next day, and headed for the aspirin bottle even before the coffee pot. Ahead of me my schedule foresaw there was heavy slush to clear up from the front walk of the Childcare, and I decided after that I would lean against a tree and watch the kids play. That may not be much of a curriculum: To not be at involved at all, but I could always say the woods were too dangerous to walk in, with burdened limbs crashing down.
But for play the children wanted to sled, and fresh, heavy snow is not good for sledding. The sleds just sink, making a sort of crater on the hillside. One must pack down the snow, but small children are not all that good at packing, it turns out. So I had to show them, slowly and laboriously tramping a wide path up the hill. I attempted to involve them, but their footprints tended to wander off and not stick to the planned route. Apparently it was too boring to pack a straight path.
I consoled myself by remembering my cellphone has a gadget that counts how many steps I take in a day. But it turned out this odometer thought I must be cheating, to take such short steps. All my tromping didn’t count as steps, to my deep disappointment. All I got was more weary than ever, as the kids got some slow sledding over the wet snow, as the long day ended.
There was still plenty of ice glinting in the treetops, as yet another storm approached.
It was another slushy storm. You could tell it was going to be hard to forecast where the rain-snow line would set up. They were forecasting a burst (or “thump”) of six inches of heavy, wet snow, changing to freezing rain and then rain, which didn’t sound good. The lights had been blinking all day, even without any added snow. But there was nothing to do but watch the storm come rolling east through the Ohio Valley on the weather maps.
The question was how soon the coastal development would develop, and how far north the warm air would surge, and how strong the “cold air damming” would be, and whether any sneaky cold air would creep under the warm air from the northeast as the coastal low “bombed.”.
Ordinarily such stuff fascinates me, but I was pretty achy, and the way the lights were flickering messed up my laptop’s ability to stay on the sites I tried to look at, and my weary brains had trouble staying in focus as well. After a easy-to-make dinner of hotdogs and beans I glanced out the window and saw it was snowing to beat the band, and then thought I’d lay down for just a bit to digest greasy hot dogs, but utterly konked out. (Just to show how tired I was, I left a lone beer on the table, with only a single sip of it swallowed).
I awoke at 3:30 AM and thought it might be wise to undress for bed, but then remembered I hadn’t put wood in the fires. Blearily I hobbled about, attempting to avoid clattering and clanging too much, as my wife has been as weary as I, and she was softly snoring. The power had been off, and the digital clocks were blinking on various devises, but we have some clocks that are battery-powered, which is how I knew it was 3:30 AM. The fires had burned down to embers, and it took time to get them going again.
At some point I went out on the porch for a couple logs. The air had a mildness unlike what I expect in January, and a quick glance down the steps showed that roughly three inches of snow (7.62 cm) was swiftly wilting under steady rain. The changeover had come earlier than expected, which I was glad to see. Hopefully the snow would shrink, and flow down the drains without the floods we had in December. I prefer snow melting to shoveling the stuff.
The lights flickered again as I glanced at the radar before heading back to bed. There were no warning signs of cold air and snow sneaking south as a backlash, and instead signs that a “dry slot” would end the rain earlier than expected. (I am located in the orange heavier rain, between Lowell and Keene.)
That “dry slot” did me a favor, for I overslept. I know when I oversleep, because it isn’t pitch dark out. I leapt out of bed, threw on my clothes, and rushed to clean the slush from the walks at the Childcare before the customers arrived. The morning was mild, and I had only to wipe the wet snow from my windshield, without needing to scrape at any frost. Yet there was still ice in the trees, and in fact the morning was sparkling, with the trees shimmering silver.
It is important to drink in that silver shimmering, for all too soon your eyes must drop to what you must shovel.
I did the front walkway, and no customer was inconvenienced, because the fact of the matter was most everyone in town was behind schedule, because the power outages messed up everyone’s clocks. Also the constant surging and blinking of the electricity supply messed up other switches in modern conveniences. I faced a freezer and a water pump that had quit. But fortunately I had five young men arriving at my Childcare and five snow shovels, and, rather than sullenly waiting for the school bus, they made some money shoveling the Childcare’s emergency exits. They trooped onto the school bus richer, as I, only $20.00 poorer, watched the snow slide off my “snow-shedding roof” and undo some of their work. Though they broke a couple shovels, they were a good investment, for they did free up my time, allowing me to get the freezer and pump working again.
(All I did was un-jam the switches; I don’t know how power surges manage to paralyze such devises, but working them once undoes the damage: With the freezer I only needed to turn the dial until it was “off”, and then, with the tender fingers of a safe-cracker, turn the dial in the “on” direction, and the freezer abruptly hummed and worked. The pump involved exposing and physically manipulating a pressure switch, but with the same effect: The pump started humming, and faucets gushed water again.) (Few things are so disconcerting as an empty faucet.)
I had proven I can function to some degree without coffee, but I was not happy about it, yet at this point there appeared, from the shimmering glitter of the sunshine, an angel. It was my wife, with a steaming extra-large coffee she got at the take-out window of a local coffee shop. Abruptly all seemed right in the world.
“Not so fast”, said this winter of slush. As I abandoned my wife to a small crowd of merciless children, driving off to do a quick errand, the coffee fueled a brief euphoria. The sun was shining off the wet road as if I was on a highway to heaven, but just then a tree branch chose to unload about ten pounds of slush and ice, down, down, down, and smack dab in the center of my windshield. I only slightly indented my Jeep’s roof. Why the windshield’s glass wasn’t cracked I cannot say.
This shock brought me back to earth, and reminded of a poem I wrote at age sixteen called “Thaw”, and also of being aged fourteen and a time I threw a snowball which plastered the center of a windshield of a Cadillac, while I was out “raising hay” during a January Thaw with a close friend, and how we got chased a long way through winter woods by a huge, burly man who looked a little like he might work for the Mafia who came exploding out of that Cadillac. In both cases the message seemed to be, “Don’t get too cocky; winter isn’t over yet.”
If I get the time (which seems unlikely) I’ll expand the above paragraph into a post about what life was like for a teenager in the 1960’s. But for now I’ll just be an old man in the 2020’s, and end with a sonnet:
The thaw made snow get heavy. The forest
Lost what was limber, and tall trees lumbered
Like ships wallow when they're sorely distressed
By freezing spray: Boughs burdened, so some bird
Alighting pressed the final, fatal straw
And a crack like a gun's shocked the cowed glades
And a crashing and thudding maimed a flaw
On many a fine tree, so summer's shades
Will know pockets of light, but summer is far,
Far from my thinking. Winter's just begun
It's onslaught, yet has done so much to mar
My peace of mind that I now want to run
To warm taverns where jovial drinking
Scoffs at the way the slush has me thinking.
On a different site a commenter made me laugh by pointing out that, in terms of weather, “average” weather never happened. Surely he was indulging a bit of hyperbole, but it derived power by being so close to the Truth: “Average” is a theoretical number created by a reality which almost always is either “above” or “below” the theoretical number.
The theoretical number around the hills where I live in New Hampshire sees temperatures drop to a winter rock-bottom where the “average” high is 29 degrees and the “average” low is 9 degrees, which gives us a “average” mean temperature of 19 degrees, (-7 degrees Celsius).
In other words, if things were “average” then we should go through a prolonged period in the depth of our winter when temperatures do not rise above freezing. But they almost always do. It is so noticeable and even predictable that it has its own name, “The January Thaw”, and people expect it, as if it was an “average” thing to occur even thought it is not “average”.
This year the “January Thaw” has been especially prolonged, so you could say it has been longer than “average”. (Around this point the word “average” is starting to look a bit tattered and dog-eared.)
Several times the temperature 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.67 Centagrade) has not been our high temperature, but our low temperature. This has given us mean temperatures at least ten degrees above “average”. However 29 degrees is still cold enough to make snow. Such snow is not the light, dry, drifting powder-snow one expects when mean temperatures are 19 and “average”, but rather is heavy, dense and wet stuff local folk call “glop.”
It strikes me as a bit amusing that having temperatures more than ten degrees above normal at times, in the depth of our winter, has not given us the snow-free landscape where, according to several Alarmists (who apparently copy each other), “our children will not know what snow is any more.” Instead we have glop. Glop is snow so heavy plows sometimes break down trying to push it around. And, as I run a Childcare, I can tell you children know all about glop. Would you like to know what they, who have not been educated at liberal colleges, know?
If so, then allow me to describe our last glop-storm.
Sunday should be a day of rest, but I was physically active, for an old coot pushing seventy, cleaning up from our last glop-storm and making ready for the next. As I huffed and puffed, loading firewood on the porch, I had to stop and catch my breath, and attempted to look picturesque, by pretending I was merely scanning the skies and sniffing out changes in the weather. And because I did that so often, I actually did notice the changes, which were so subtle and beautiful it made me want to quit the work, and go write a poem.
The north winds behind the prior glop-storm had brought temperatures down to nearly “average”, but those winds shifted to the south and you could feel the north relenting. The cut of the wind relaxed into a sort of softness. I felt the next storm surely must be rain, but the forecasters were sure we’d get snow.
What they somehow knew, and I didn’t, was those south winds from a storm to our west would shift to northeast winds, as that primary storm to our west occluded and basically vanished from the map, and a secondary “coastal development” took over.
In the map below you can see the secondary has taken over, and the only sign of the primary is dashed orange lines, and a curl of clouds.
I was impressed by the forecaaster’s skill, as snow began falling as I went to bed Sunday night. The forecast was for six-to-ten inches by morning. (School had already been cancelled, though we keep our Childcare open, as we are needed.) But the rain-snow line was very nearby to our south, and I was well aware how difficult it is to forecast what amounts to a difference between 32.1 degrees and 31.9. I was not particularly surprised when I awoke at two in the morning, and saw rain out the window. Apparently the primary low, which didn’t even exist on maps any more, pushed just enough warmth north to switch the snow to rain, as the radar map showed.
The radar showed purple, indicative of freezing rain and sleet, and my thermometer read 32, so I knew this was not the sort of rain that melts snow much. When I went to open our Childcare at 6:45 it was still 32, and the windows of my Jeep were suggestive of freezing rain and not rain. As I shoveled the front walk I noticed the snow had a crust on top, more like freezing rain than wet rain. Temperatures might be thirteen degrees above normal, but the glop was still glop.
The forecast insisted the rain would change back to snow as the secondary low grew stronger and moved over Cape Cod into the Gulf of Maine, but I was in no mood to send children out to get wet in cold rain, so I had to endure innocent darlings totally trashing the Childcare indoors.
The children were excited to see the rain change back to wet snow out the window…
…And I confess I was glad to get the children dressed in their body-armor snowsuits and out the door. I hoped to put them to work rolling snowballs, which they adore, but we were disappointed to discover the crust of ice that freezing snow put on the snow made rolling snowballs impossible. However the snow was very sticky, and could be shoveled to the sides of our igloo-in-progress.
I was doing most of the work, as the children were persuaded by a cynic in their midst that a roof on a snow-fort was one of those silly ideas adults have, like tooth fairies or Santa Claus. I didn’t mind. Occasionally I had to break up snowball wars, but mostly they did their thing, (which seemed to involve making paths), and I worked on the impossible roof. But I did notice the kindly south winds, and the the southerly movement of low skud, shifted around to the north, as the storm headed by to our east.
One thing that seemed odd was that there was no increase in the winds. The trees were still white with the burden of the last glop-storm, and more burdened by freezing rain, and now were being further frosted by wet snow, but there was no wind to blow the white from the boughs. The flakes were big and wet, as the passing low created bands of snow. (If you want to show off your meteorological jargon, call the bands “mesoscale”.)
We were short-handed, but, because school was cancelled. a high-school-aged “intern” showed up to make some extra money, and this meant I did not need to bring the children in for lunch, and put all their wet snow suits in the drier, and get them settled down for nap time. Rather, she did all that, while, huffing and puffing, I could stay out and complete the igloo, which, because the small cynic doubted me, had become a thing my old ego deemed important. It was likely unwise to huff and puff so much at my age, but I managed to finish the job.
Rather than noticing my masterpiece, please notice the woods in the background, burdened with glop. From those woods, as I worked in the child-free silence of falling snow, I heard occasional loud cracks, like the report of a pistol, followed by crashing and thumping, like large limbs falling to earth. This is not a good sign.
We lost power at our Childcare around 2:30, when the children were just rising from their naps. The place was still warm, and it was not particularly hard to dress them to go out and play again. I’d rushed off to attend to other details, but was glad to hear the kids were very impressed my igloo had a roof, and my wife took a picture for our website of seven small children sitting within. Then I rushed back to watch kids play in the dwindling light of the ebbing day, (made especially dark with no power), as one by one their parents arrived to pick them up. Nearly every parent had an adventure to talk about, describing trees down across highways, and losing power at workplaces.
I spend so much time with small children, dealing with the way they think, that I have come to value the all-too-short time I get to spend with actual living and breathing adults. Perhaps it is because I am coming from a different perspective, but it strikes me adults have no idea how amazing they are. A tree can close a highway as they go to pick up their child, and they just make a joke out of the experience. They find their way around the obstacles. They lose power at a workplace, yet get their job done. They don’t like glop, but accept it as “average” and get on with life.
But for Alarmists, glop is a disaster. Rather than above “average ” temperatures causing less snow, glop creates snow so heavy and dense it shuts down schools.
The storm was heading off, just a feature on my “fisherman’s map”:
But the glop took time to clean up. Arriving at work at 6:45 this morning to shovel the inch of overnight snow and salt the walks, I discovered the schools needed a two hour delay before opening. Also we had no power at our Childcare. But we opened, with a wood-stove’s fire upstairs to warm the children, and with snow melting in pots on that stove to use, if we needed to flush the toilets. Power came back on at 9:30, so we never needed to flush toilets with melted snow, but the point I want to make is that glop didn’t stop us.
Actually, when the sun snuck briefly under the cloud deck at sunrise, the way glop bent a pine’s up-reaching boughs down like a hemlock’s was downright beautiful.
It is important to remember Glop is beautiful, because our local forecast is for more of it. Tomorrow night we are suppose to get a quick thump of a half-foot of snow, turning to heavy rain, which will turn snow to slush, which will freeze as solid as iron as winds turn north afterwards.
If “above average” gives us so much winter, what shall happen when things swing to “below average”? For surely things must do so, in order for “above” and “below” to average-out into the “average” (which hardly ever happens).
One major reason I shifted from being reluctant about being vaccinated for the China Virus,`to adamantly refusing to being vaccinated, was the death of Robert Felix on June 10, 2021. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, but had the painful affliction under control with medications, however, after getting “the jab”, his arthritis flared out of control and he swiftly was confined to a wheelchair and, soon afterwards, died.
I felt a great sense of loss, because, although we’d only met “on line”, he had been very kind to me. On several occasions I fear I, being at times an offensive person, offended him, and that never sits well with me; I don’t like offending people who have been kind. I sent some apologetic texts, but wanted to meet with him personally at some point. Abruptly he was gone. What was unspoken seemed it would be forever unsaid.
When I thought about it, I decided I was being selfish. It was all about me. Death is a gateway to further life, (I believe), and Robert’s destiny was to move on. The best I could do was to honor his memory and keep alive the good work he did.
Robert got in trouble with politically correct Alarmists because, rather than thinking we should be worried about Global Warming, he felt we should be concerned about a climate cycle bringing a return of Ice Age conditions. He had studied the subject and wrote a book.
I tended to offend Robert by clumsily joking he was as biased towards cold as Alarmists were towards warmth. He had every reason to take offense, for he was very different from Alarmists, in that he was not guilty of B.S.
Everything Robert did was, in my opinion, sincerely devoted to Truth. Unlike certain “climate scientists”, he never (that I ever saw) compromised on Truth to get a grant or endowment or advancement or the cheap fame of media attention, and Robert likely “blew his chances”, by offending bigwigs on a regular basis. I just hope the bigwigs felt as small as I felt, when I stepped on his toes.
Even when I had offended my friend and he was not in the mood to talk with me, I always visited his website “Ice Age Now”, because it was a treasury of information concerning a topic the media avoided and avoids like the plague: Places on earth where it was colder than normal. The media always focused on where the planet was (and is) experiencing a hot spell. The media completely neglected the fact these events tend to balance out, and temperatures ten degrees above normal in one place will be balanced by temperatures ten degrees below normal in another. “Ice Age Now” was like an antidote to such one-sided reporting. The fact of the matter was that, where Al Gore stated, “the planet has a fever”, it was the media that had the fever, and Robert Felix was the cooling cure.
Robert was and is irreplaceable. His website should be a treasury of historic information, and I find it a bit suspicious that so many wrenches have been thrown into the works of what should be part of the public record. It is hard to access his site, and to a suspicious codger like me it seems someone does not want his memory to even exist.
However, though I cannot match his ability, it seems one thing I can do, to honor his memory, is to, (in a much smaller way than Ice Age Now did), note that there are places colder than ever seen before, right now, on our planet. The very fact such places exist are possibly more indicative of a coming Ice Age, than of Global Warming.
Therefore it leapt out at me, grabbing my attention and making me immediately think of Robert, when I saw that both Iceland and China were getting headlines for cold, while browsing through Tony Heller’s website, “Real Climate Science”.
Having spoken of places where it is very cold, I would not want you to think I was one-sided. After all, when temperatures are below normal one place, they are balanced by temperatures above normal in another place. And one “other” place happens to be right where I live in New Hampshire. I will now show the results of temperatures far above normal, at a Childcare I run.
I should hasten to add that ordinarily, in mid-January, our snow is usually powder, which sifts dryly in the wind. It is useless stuff, in terms of making snowmen, or igloos, (or pasting a teacher in the face and knocking their glasses off with a snowball as a “joke.”) Temperatures must be ten degrees above normal to make our snow sticky.
However snow is snow, in terms of “albedo”.
“Albedo” is a magic word for Alarmists, for it measures the ability of a surface to absorb sunlight, or else bounce it back to outer space. Snow has a huge ability to reflect sunlight to space without absorbing much heat. Alarmists assume temperatures ten degrees above normal will make less snow, and therefore the planet will reflect less heat, and get hotter and hotter and hotter until the oceans boil.
However the above picture shows the result of temperature well above normal. It doesn’t look like less snow to me. Furthermore it is not light and fluffy powder snow, which quickly shrinks under bright sunshine until a foot is like an inch of wet felt, but rather it is heavy, dense snow about as light and fluffy as cement. (You will have to trust me about this, as I’m the poor old man who had to huff and puff building that igloo.) Snow that dense snapped the branches of trees and knocked out the power at my Childcare from lunch until the purple darkness of closing. Furthermore, if the sun ever shines again, (and lately I’ve had my doubts), you’ll want sunglasses just as much for this cement-like snow as you do for powder snow, but this sort of solid, cement-like snow does not wilt like powder snow does. It just sits there and seems to say, “I will not melt until May.”
Well! Who would have thunk it? Snow produced by warmer temperatures is harder to melt? If that doesn’t infuriate Alarmists and get you shadow banned, they are not paying attention. For if warmer temperatures produce snow more difficult to melt, then maybe Robert Felix was right.
Maybe it is time for the Alarmists to all rush over to the other side of the boat, for when the snow says “I will not melt until May” perhaps, just perhaps, it is also ininuating….
Usually our storms depart with strong winds in their wake, but this one was amazingly windless. Here is a picture of the pine boughs bent down over my woodpile this morning:
That picture points out some trimming I need to do, but my wife and granddaughter put me to shame, for rather than grouchy they go out for a walk to appreciate the beautiful way the world is changed. Where I see the wires they see the trees.
Maybe if I write a sonnet my mood will become less sardonic.
The storm was wondrously calm. Not a flake
Was blown off a twig, but instead they clung
Where they fell, and made all a frosted cake
Of white. It was a soft snow which stung
No cheeks; a warm snow which made for wet roads.
There was no skidding; no irksome whining
As tires spun; but still boughs bent under loads
That became a burden. Who is designing
This gentle start to an ordeal? It's like
A soft quilt is tucked up under the chin
Of man not ready to die, who'll strike
The quilt away and shout, with a brave grin,
"Not so fast, Wily Winter! Seducing
Can't hide the storm troopers you're loosing!"
(Oops. Started poetic, but I guess I slipped back to my sardonic side, there at the end.)
The storm was calm because the primary low kicked ahead energy along the “triple point” where it occluded. I call such energies “zippers” because they tend to follow where the cold front catches up to a warm front, “zipping up” part of a storms warm sector into an above-the-ground occlusion. When such “zippers” reach the right conditions they “bomb out”, and swiftly have pressures far lower than the primary low, and in fact the primary low and its occlusion may become a minor, “secondary cold front” in the circulation of a gale, in which case the pines roar and the snow is blown from the boughs. However in the case of the last storm the secondary low was slow to form from the “zipper”, and there was very little pressure difference between the primary and secondary low, so the snow drifted down with little wind. The “zipper” gave us a burst of heavy snow either side of midnight on Friday morning, and then as the remnants of the primary low followed we got another twenty-four hours of light snow, ending after midnight Saturday morning. The first burst gave us roughly five inches, and the lighter snow gave us two more.
In the national map below you can see the weakening primary storm lagging behind over us as the secondary strengthens out to sea. (Also note California is drying out as the big Pacific gales are further north towards Alaska.)
But what interests me is that we got snow and not rain. Some of the computer models were seeing rain, as they don’t handle sneaky cold very well. The models are programed to see the atmosphere in terms of small cubes of air, but sometimes the cold air creeps close to the ground, “under the radar” as it were, and the models don’t see it until it is upon us. That is why I have been noting, for over a week, that the “fisherman’s map” I like to look at seems to always have “heavy freezing spray” to our north.
Now here’s what makes me sardonic. If enough cold air can creep down to give us snow when the anomaly maps show us in a cherry red warm spell, with maps looking like this:
What will happen if the models are correct and the cherry red turns to frigid blue in ten days?
I’ll tell you what will happen. At our Childcare children will make pristine, new-fallen snow looking like this:
Look like this:
And maybe we’ll even be able to complete an igloo before it melts away. That’s our third attempt, starting to rise in the distance in the picture below. (Only the walls; the snow wasn’t sticky enough for a roof, yet.) (This picture does a fairly good job of showing a sort of snow-blindness that occurs when the sun is hidden but the sky is bright, and light snow is falling. One’s ability to see contrast between dark and light fades.)
Next storm due Monday, and perhaps another Wednesday night. Feeling sardonic yet?