LOCAL VIEW –First Arctic Blast–

We had our first taste of winter today, with temperatures 15 degrees below normal and reluctant to rise all day and puddles from last night’s rain flat and frozen, and fits of flurries throwing handfuls of white confetti into a stiff breeze, though I saw no reason for confetti. What is there to celebrate? It was a miserable day after yesterday evening’s miserable cold rain.

Last night I faced a night out with good friends, but nearly didn’t go, because, to get to the cheer and the warm hearth of friends, I’d have to venture out into pitch black and pelting, cold rain. It stinks when, in order to have a good time, you must first take a deep breath and run a gauntlet. But that is the definition of winter, in New England.

It is said, “No pain; no gain”, and that is what urges one out, yet at the same time another voice whispers, “No strain; No pain”. And there is much to be said for the second voice. Why risk pneumonia, when you could toast toes by a warm fire?

At some point one is forced to chose between which voice one will listen to. It seems a sort of “tipping point”, or a “fork in the road.” As a writer, often I stay home and am introspective, while others go out. I sometimes stay in even when the weather is balmy. Also as a writer, I often have wound up broke because I stayed home when I should have gone out to work, which later forced me to go out and work lousy jobs in weather others would call insane to work in. Therefore I have a pretty good idea of what both sides of the “tipping point” entail.

In my experience it is almost always better to go out. For example, last night, as I wavered at my front door, there could be no doubt the weather was disagreeable. It was weather best described by Englishmen in London during a North Atlantic gale, when they look out and say, with lordly disapproval, “Simply filthy weather; simply filthy.” Yet two hours later when I stomped back through the same door and hurried to my hearth, I was glad I’d gone. I hadn’t caught pneumonia, and had gained, through the insights of others, an idea I’d never have come up with alone.

One thing that few account for is that the mortal body is capable of ramping up its Adrenalin levels, and altering its entire metabolism, if need be. I noticed my physical frame doing this today. The bitter wind was “lazy” (IE: it cut straight through you, rather than taking the time to go around you) and I was flinching and muttering, “I’m too old for this.” My circulation isn’t as good, and my testosterone levels are lower, than when I was twenty-five. To me that seems a good excuse for staying home by the fire. But, because I’ve been a writer, I’ve worked over a hundred different jobs, and that is no way to earn a pension. So I’m stuck with working when friends have retired. And, because I have to go out when they don’t, I discover what they won’t.

What I saw is that one doesn’t need Viagra to be hot. Apparently something other than testosterone is involved, when the northern body shifts gears in the face of brutal winter. Something in the human frame fights back, when exposed to insults, even when you’re old. It will take science a while to verify this observation, I suppose, but it was undeniable to me: I was warmer after the first nasty blasts of winter hit me than I was when I first saw the forecast.

I didn’t notice how much warmer I was, at first. I walked through my front door after work and pottered about as if it was June, thinking little of it until I went to put wood in the stove. Only then did it occur to me I hadn’t rushed to the fire like a babe to a breast as I came in the house. Contrary as it may sound, bitter breezes made me warmer.

Decades ago I saw the same thing in a different way. A friend complained his wife never got out, and instead stayed at home depressed. In the foolish way that marked my youth, I stuck my nose in the business of others, “to be helpful”. (One friend called me guilty of “dry adultery”: I might not have had sex with friend’s wives, but was prone to emotional meddling.)

My friend was exasperated to a degree where he’d stopped listening to his wife, but I figured that, because I was an artist, I was more sensitive than my pal (who was gruff, tough, and constantly in trouble with the law), and that I would be more able to be sympathetic and empathetic. I believed often that is what emotional people need, in order to escape whatever dilemma they find themselves in.

I was useless. Why? Because it was immediately obvious to me the woman’s problems were primarily caused not by her insensitive, outlaw husband, but by the fact she used him as an excuse to never go out.

Why was it obvious? Hard to explain, but it was like this:

Sometimes your feet are cold because you are sitting too much. What you need to do is stir your blood and get your circulation going. In such a case it does absolutely no good to talk about what caused you to sit, for the longer you talk the longer you stay sitting and the colder your feet become.

Although my friend’s wife very much appreciated the fact I would sit with her and talk with her, she did not like it when I suggested she might benefit if she stopped sitting and talking. In the end I was not “helpful”.

In actual fact the woman helped me far more than I helped her, for she reminded me of myself. Artists often sit and think when they should get up and go. She made me aware a “tipping point” is involved.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to suggest we should outlaw art, because artists sit and think when they should get up and go. (In fact I think too many people get up and go without enough thought.)

Instead I mean to suggest a “tipping point” indicates a balance is involved, and a balance involves two sides. If you succumb to the mentality that takes only one side you are completely out of balance.

At this point we need to define “balance”. In terms of humanity, it is actually a precarious state. Often the people we deem most stable and balanced are knocked completely out of kilter by a feather. For example a bank president may commit suicide when the market crashes. Meanwhile the janitor at the same bank may be the fellow who offers the most help to his fellow employees as the ruined bank closes its doors.

“Balance” is often seen as “security”, which can draw people out of balance. For example, “political correctness” draws people into postures they may not be comfortable with, but which they feel are “safer” stances than what their conscience knows to be Truth. Such compromises seem “balanced” up until Truth jars them with a rude awakening, and they become aware “political correctness” has lured them into being led by some sort of despot, such as Stalin or Hitler. Then what seemed like “balance” abruptly shocks people into the awareness they are miles past the “tipping point”, and are plunging into disaster. This sort of shock is like the first blast of winter into New England. When it hits you, nothing that came before matters. Truth has arrived.

Artists, who have (in theory at least) put Truth ahead of “political correctness”, are less perturbed by such abrupt and shocking arrivals of Truth. They tend to respond more like the Bank Janitor than the Bank President. At some point they faced a “fork in the road” and, as the poet Robert Frost stated, the choice they made “has made all the difference.”

Often I find the biographies of artists as interesting as their art. Not that they had easy lives. Often they faced winters. Van Gough is an example of a a man who lived a rough life, yet he painted Truth which millions, perhaps billions, now admire.

One biography that fascinates me is that of an American master of the genre, “short story”, named William Sydney Porter, who took on the pen-name of “O. Henry”.

What intrigues me about Porter is that he seems to have been more like a person who goes out, than a person who sits by the fire, and therefore he seems unlikely to ever become a writer. But he did like to sit in a bar after work and tell a good tale. Then one thing led to another.

Though Porter’s tale-telling can be seen to gradually develop, (as pieces he sent to newspapers, newspapers which he increasingly was interested in and involved with), he was too practical to depend on writing for his livelihood, and supported himself, and later his wife and daughter, by working as a pharmacist, sheep-herder, cowboy, draftsman, clerk, and teller at a bank.

While working as a teller he apparently strayed from doing things by-the-book, using his heart more than his head, for political and perhaps other reasons. He lost one bank-job when a new political party came into power, and was fired from a second when “irregularities” in his bookkeeping were discovered. In disgrace he move from Austin, Texas to Houston, Texas, and then for the first time focused on writing. He was making headway, getting raises and seeing his newspaper-column become more popular, when Federal Auditors snooped into the doings of the bank back in Austin. They didn’t want to hear any excuses for a former employee who used his heart and not his head; $854.08 were unaccounted for and, roughly two years after he had left Austin, Porter faced five years in jail for embezzlement.

Because he was a man of action, the day before his trial Porter fled to Honduras, where he associated with exiles, coined the phrase “Banana Republic”, and did a lot of work on the collection of intertwined short stories called “Of Cabbages and Kings”, (which was as close as he ever came to writing a novel.) He hoped to make money writing and had made plans for his wife and daughter to join him, but then discovered the tuberculosis (which he knew his wife was suffering from, before he married her) was now killing her. At this point he returned to face five years in jail, to be at her side as she died.

She died, and then he went to jail, where he was valued and worked as a pharmacist. However he still had a daughter to support, and became involved in sneaky ways to make money by writing without people knowing the writer was a jailbird. That is when he adopted the name “O. Henry” (Which some suggest is a condensed version of “Ohio Penitentiary”.) (The name first appeared attached to a charming tale about a hobo who becomes a hero but chooses to remain a hobo, called “Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking”. In retrospect the hobo’s love-of-freedom is especially poignant because the writer himself was in jail, though of course readers of that time didn’t know that). “O. Henry” became increasingly popular even before Porter was released from prison, (two years early, “for good behavior”).

What I find fascinating about that part of Porter’s life is that he did not intentionally retire to the fireside to write. In essence he was forced to the “fireside” of a jail-cell, after facing the bitter winter of his wife’s death. Largely he was not a retiring man.

After he was released from prison in Ohio he traveled to Pennsylvania to where his daughter was staying with his in-laws. As a widower and ex-con he did not seem all that accepted or happy, and drank too much. He moved to New York City to be near the market for short stories, and basically drowned himself in work. Porter would write in the morning and conduct research after “the sun passed the yardarms”, with the “research” consisting of visiting restaurants and bars where, rather than telling tales, he often got others to tell him tales, late into the night. Then he’d head home and jot some notes, and work on a tale the next morning, often facing a Friday deadline. He produced a total of 371 tales, some masterpieces, in roughly seven years, before his liver gave out. What is interesting to me is that even while writing so much, he didn’t sit by the fire. By noon he was restless, and had to get out.

It likely impossible to state the effect Porter had during the time he was most productive, when my Grandfather was young. There was no radio or TV, and people were avid readers. My Grandfather’s generation awaited the next “O. Henry” story in magazines and newspaper-Sunday-supplements with the same eagerness my own generation awaited the next song by The Beatles, and it is difficult to translate that eagerness across time. I do not belabor my grandchildren with talk about the Beatles, and my Grandfather never told me why he had eight volumes of O. Henry short stories in the bookshelf by his living-room armchair. But I noticed them. Though the tales were panned by critics of that time (and by some fellow writers as well) they are more than a wonderful window to the attitudes and realities of another time; they contain descriptions of human frailty and nobility that are timeless. When I finally got around to reading them I felt like I’d discovered a gold mine.

However that is not the point of this essay. The point of this essay is to suggest that, sometimes, facing the blasts of winter, men do not merely survive, but become downright prolific, as O. Henry did, facing the winter of his life.

LOCAL VIEW –The Rapids Freeze–

The way to defeat “cabin fever” and to avoid going “shack whacky” is to grit your teeth and go out into the cold, so I decided to practice what I preach and went out to take some pictures of the Souhegan River freezing up, (with the Patriot’s game on my car radio), yesterday. It was well worth the discomfort of getting out of the comfort of my car, from time to time, to take some pictures.

Brook 1 watershedmap

The Souhegan is basically a brook as it comes north from its headwaters down in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, but it quickly gathers other brooks, and back in the day (when water power was the only power) it fueled a number of small mills in my town.  It was enough, back then, to make my out-of-the-way backwater a center of industry, even though it was up in the hills, as people went where the power was. Later, when railways were invented, my town chose to prevent the railway from expanding because it was thought the railway would “attract the wrong people”, and that was the death knell to many of the local industries, and the town faded to its current backwater status. However one mill survives at “High Bridge”, having transitioned from an age when fabric was for clothing, to making fabric for body armor and dirigibles and even spacecraft landing on Mars.

Brook 20 Contact-Warwick-Mills

And just downstream is where I began freezing my fingers, taking pictures of the freezing stream.

Brook 3 IMG_6022Brook 4 FullSizeRender.jpgBrook 5 FullSizeRender

A few miles downstream lies Greenville, where the mills prospered more, for they did allow the railway in, (though it no longer goes that far.)

Brook 6 FullSizeRenderBrook 7 FullSizeRender

North of there the river is a favorite place for white water kayaking in the spring,

Brook 2 kayaks1

It was amazing how much of the water was iced over, but I couldn’t stop as the snowbanks and traffic made pulling over too dangerous. Further on, just past the Temple-Wilton line, the river passes beneath an abandoned bridge, (I think built by New Deal workers in the Great Depression).

Brook 8 FullSizeRender

On the west side of Wilton another stream tumbles down from Temple Mountain to join the flow.Brook 21 FullSizeRender

The water gurgles and mutters and gargles from holes in the fast-forming ice

Brook 11 FullSizeRender

And the old railway still reaches this far.

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Driftwood is frozen in place where water tumbles over the first dam.

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The second Wilton dam’s pond is solid ice

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And I simply had to crunch along the road, despite biting winds and blaring traffic, to see beneath the dam.

Brook 15 FullSizeRender

Check out the outlet pipe. (And the graffiti beyond it).

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I wonder what the old water mills did, when it got this cold? (And where do the teenagers now go?)

Then on to Milford, as the river turns east.

Brook 17 FullSizeRender

And more hidden artwork from warmer days.

Brook 18 FullSizeRender

And onward to the Merrimack River and then southwards to the sea.

Brook 19 FullSizeRender

The cold can not stop it. Ice cannot clamp
The water’s yearning for the distant sea
In its vice. Like a happy old tramp
Offered a steady job, it will flee
All restraint but that of its double banks
And the steady tugging of gravity.
So do not cold-shoulder with icy glance
The inevitable progress of the free.
Do not think you can keep children ever young
Or prevent the innocent from finding Truth,
For though arctic winters have come and stung,
Forever fluid is the river called “Youth”,
And though your white may clench from bank to bank
Underground gurgles will sing and will thank.

It pays to practice what you preach, and to walk the walk besides talking the talk. Although I may have appeared a foolish old man, out taking pictures with a cell-phone in a wind that could freeze the bleep off a bleep, heedless of the whizzing vehicles flying past with incredulous onlookers, (or sort of heedless), I had no symptoms of cabin fever as I headed home. In fact I noticed that, once you have spent time trying to find the perfect angle for a picture, and the right views to capture an idea, your eyes seem to become stuck in the habit, and even when you are not taking pictures any more the whole world looks strangely photogenic, and you see beauty you usually overlook.

Last but not least, you never know what you will find, if you just get out and look. I was seeking river ice. Who would dream I would find graffiti?

WILL BRAZIL CHILL KILL COFFEE?

The “Ice Age Now” site has been reporting deep snows, in some cases over ten feet deep,  in the mountains of Chile and Argentina, with the cold pouring east across the pampas and northeast into southern Brazil.
http://iceagenow.info/chile-71-workers-trapped-snow/ http://iceagenow.info/argentina-two-meters-snow-near-chilean-border/ http://iceagenow.info/record-cold-brazil-2/

The coffee crops have been extended to the southern limits of what is possible in Brazil, just as orange trees are grown to the northern limits of what is possible in Florida, and therefore just as arctic outbreaks threaten Florida’s oranges in our winter, antarctic outbreaks threaten Brazil’s coffee.

brazil-coffee-screen-shot-2013_07_17-at-8_35_50-am

The interesting thing is that it is still officially autumn in the southern hemisphere. Winter doesn’t begin for a fortnight.

My interest is piqued because I am watching to see if the southern hemisphere gets the same loopy jet stream we got last winter. The current culprit is a low off the east coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic, which is bringing cold south winds north on its west side, (because low pressure spins clockwise in the southern hemisphere,) (which is an excellent mental exercise, if you feel like stretching your ability to visualize maps, first things in the morning,) (which is why coffee is important.)

Brazil 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_samer_1

As this low meanders off the coast the early morning is coldest, with considerable warming during the day, especially up in the pampas of northern Argentina.

Brazil 2 cmc_t2m_samer_6Brazil 3 cmc_t2m_samer_4

What I would assume is that the antarctic blast would be moderated by the day-time warming, and the cold wave would fade. However by glancing ahead through the early morning maps, it looks like a following blast of cold comes roaring north across the pampas to southern Brazil.

Brazil 4 cmc_t2m_samer_2Brazil 5 cmc_t2m_samer_10Brazil 6 cmc_t2m_samer_14Brazil 7 cmc_t2m_samer_18

This shows a couple things. First it shows how poking through the thousands of maps Ryan Maue makes available at the Weatherbell site can make you late for work. Second it shows why gamblers who like to play with coffee futures study meteorology.  (I may stock up a bit myself.)

And there is a third thing as well. “Global Warming” isn’t effecting Brazil, where temperatures are setting new record lows.

LOCAL VIEW –APRIL MOPES–

I generally try to keep an upbeat attitude, or at least muster a wry irony and sarcasm, and to avoid moping. However after the sweetness of a false spring, the return of winter’s final spurning is hard to take. One has been wooed, and then cheated upon, or so it feels.

Here’s this morning’s weather map and radar. (Click to enlarge, if you really want to focus on misery.)

 

I try to see the bright side. For example, the sun is so high the snow didn’t stick to the roads, so there was no shoveling or plowing. (Please ignore the wheelbarrow behind the car, indicating I had to rush to get firewood in before it snowed. Oh, my aching back….but forget I said that. I’m fortunate to have wood, and a back to ache.)

April snow 4 IMG_2295

And there is the positive side to think about. I don’t have to mow the grass, do I?

April snow 3 IMG_2294

And, considering I have displayed such goodness and virtue, with my positive attitude, surely I will be rewarded by sunshine and tweeting birds. Right? So lets check out this evening’s map and radar. (Do not click to enlarge, unless you are feeling masochistic .)

 

What’s this?  The maps show that the first storm blew up into a howling gale in the Gulf of Maine, giving us a bitter Sunday afternoon with snow flurries, and then, no sooner do those winds die down, then another ripple of low pressure brings further arctic snows our way, to make a miserable Monday morning more miserable than Mondays already are.

What kind of reward is this? After all, I’m a sensitive poet. I need to be pampered. This sort of bullshit gets the violins of my self-pity wailing so badly strings start breaking, and my poetry might be blighted into beastly doggeral.

God forgive me, but April snows do tempt one to question the entire concept of a compassionate God. I mean, what sort of God would allow daffodils to be wooed upwards by warmth to the point of blooming:

April snow 1 IMG_2287

And then, rather than applauding the first blooms, hit them with this:

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If even the flowers mope, should not I?

But here is where it gets interesting. Our forefathers went through a real downer of a time called The Great Depression, and had every reason to bitch and complain. But when you investigate the past,  you discover that even this depressing-looking bunch didn’t do that.

You have to understand that in 1929 people saw the stock-market-crash snarl at them, and completely wipe out everything they had worked their entire lives for. For that reason I actually like the intense irony in this early version of the “Sunny Side Of The Street”.

However there can be little doubt that we Americans got better and better at making music of our misery, and this version of “Sunny Side Of The Street” is downright joyous.

To me this bizarre, cheerful  behavior of humans, when they have every reason to roll over and stick their arms and legs in the air like a dead cow, is a real miracle. Who needs to walk on water, or see the sea parted?  The sight of ordinary nobility seems so moving to me that I actually avoid it, because I’m a tough old dude and don’t much like it when my wife hands me a Kleenex. I tend to drag my heels when my wife wants to go out and see a chick-flick, because when I watch a tearjerker I wind up biting my lip, and then doing those weird inhalations one does just before a sob, and wind up shedding twice as many tears as my wife does.

Who needs that? I am basically a pragmatic Yankee, and I intellectually believe that when the going gets tough the tough get going. It does no intellectual good to bawl like a baby.

But maybe it does some emotional good, especially when you are powerless against some illness like cancer, or some financial factor like the Great Depression, or some political monster like Hitler. There are times we are faced with the fact we are not as big and tough as we like to believe.

In any case, my wife and I went to see a tearjerker called “Miracles From Heaven.” It’s about a family with a child who has an incurable illness. I know that subject sounds damn depressing, but I still recommend this movie.

After all, when we watch the news these days it sure does look like our whole planet has an incurable illness.

But perhaps we foolish humans need to be brought to our knees, before we learn how to sing.

Spring lied to me, and now daffodils mope
Weighted by snow, and hunched songbirds pout
From evergreen caves. I feel like a dope
For ever allowing my dreams to come out.
Like a young girl seduced by an old rake
Or a congregation robbed by a priest
Trust lies in ruins. Kindness seems to forsake
The kind, and the deserving get the least
As the crooked run off to long laugh last.

Why, then, is this strange smiling tickling lips?
Why, then, is this odd music standing fast?
What is this faith which, with white-knuckle-grips,
Uplifts like cream sails on clipper ships masts?
Is it the last who laugh the laugh that lasts?

LOCAL VIEW –COLD SHOT SETS RECORDS–

This will be a short post, as I’m dealing with frozen pipes both here and over at the Farm-childcare. It was -9° F here this morning, but calm, which made it feel far more humane than yesterday morning, when it was -15°F with a nasty  wind.  Yesterday set records for the date all over New England.  Not even including the wind-chill, this is the coldest it has been in the more southern parts of New England since I was a small boy. (Up here I did see it hit -27°F in 1994, and on the coast of Maine I saw an amazing -20°F right by the relatively warm ocean in 1977, but those were both in January.)

        COLDEST TEMPERATURES RECORDED SINCE 1957

RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES FOR FEBRUARY 14TH

BOSTON -9 /PREV -3 IN 1937/. COLDEST SINCE 1957.
 RECORD LOW HIGH 12 / PREVIOUS 14 IN 1916
HARTFORD -12 /PREV -9 IN 1979/.
PROVIDENCE -9 /PREV -7 IN 1979/.
WORCESTER -16 /PREV -11 IN 1979/. COLDEST SINCE 1957.

What cut worst was the wind. Windchills were below -30°F steadily, and when the wind gusted were below -40°F (which is handy, for it is also -40°C).

There is little snow, only around three inches, so the cold is able to get down in places that are usually protected, and at the Farm-childcare they have frozen a pipe someplace I can’t figure out, and that I have never seen before. The problem will get my mind off the depressing subject of politics, so I’m telling myself it is a silver lining.  However my wife and I had planned to go out and have a nice post-Valentine’s Day lunch. It is amazing how we have only to plan a lunch to spark some sort of crisis.

Here’s a Dr. Ryan Maue map from Weatherbell, showing the cold yesterday morning.

Valentine's Coild rtma_tmp2m_neus__3_(7)

 

ROMANIANS AND BRITISH AGREE: WINTER IS ONE MONTH EARLY

From a Romanian site here: http://www.antena3.ro/actualitate/trenuri-blocale-si-localitati-fara-energie-electrica-din-cauza-caderilor-de-zapada-318120.html

Comes news of an early season snowfall that stopped trains, mostly because the trains are electric and trees dropped limbs onto the lines over the trains.

Trenuri blocale şi localităţi fără energie electrică, din cauza căderilor de zăpadă 16

Crudely translated, the report states this:

Travellers from personal train Suceava – Cacica were taken by minibus and taken home after the train was stopped Sunday afternoon in the station Todireşti, said County Council (CJ) Suceava, John Catalin Nechifor, according to Agerpres. The train was stopped at the station after power line was damaged because of falling trees and branches that yielded abundant snow. However, Nechifor said that another issue was brought before the train Ilva Mica – Suceava which was stopped after probably , trees fell on power grid, between the towns Kindergarten and Larion. According to Nechifor during the evening railway line between Transylvania and Suceava will be functional.Also, President CJ Suceava showed that there were failures in the electricity supply in the area Campulung Moldovenesc, but in Vatra Moldoviţei teams E.ON interfering spot for redeploying the network.

Moldova has a report on this website http://stirileprotv.ro/stiri/actualitate/cod-galben-de-ploi-si-ninsori-in-toata-tara-si-cod-portocaliu-in-suceava-si-neamt-unde-stratul-de-zapada-va-depasi-10cm.ht and the report there contains the significant (crudely translated) statement, ” Traffic was blocked on the road between Suceava and Gura Humorului, where winds broke several power cables. Shortly after it started to snow heavily, two cars had crashed violently on the same road.All seven people, located in both cars arrived at the hospital. Young: “It’s too early winter, we did not expect, now move on warm clothes.” Hostel from the mountains of the county Neamt snow deposited on leaves still green trees and grass.

If winter came when the leaves were still green, even the trees got fooled. Considering they spend more time outside than humans do, it is little wonder if humans were taken by surprise.

The culprit for the cold has been a high pressure which, on my Sea-ice posts, I named “CPR” (which was short for “Cross Polar Ridge”.) This ridge of high pressure for a while extended from Bering Strait to Norway, and the winds on the Eurasian side of this cross-polar feature drew air from the East Siberian Sea to Finland and then south towards the Caspian. The cold air has resulted in snow-cover far south in western Russia.Swan 1 ims2015285

This same high pressure “CPR” has largely faded away over the Pole, collapsing south over Europe and now forming a ridge extending from just north of the Caspian Sea all the way west to Britain. East winds now blow in an arc from Siberia to Ireland.Swan 3 gfs_precip_mslp_eur_3Much cold air came south with this high pressure. (Temperature in this map are in Fahrenheit, and pink represents below freezing.) Swan 2 cmc_t2m_eur_3

It can be seen that this high pressure’s east winds would be transporting the cold air to the west, and riding the back of these east winds were Bewick’s Swans.

Britain facing 'longest winter in 50 years' as Siberian swan arrives early

Unlike the trees of Romania, ducks, geese and swans are unlikely to be fooled. This likely occurs because they spend a lot of their time with their butts in water, and know when water is about to freeze. It would be big trouble if your butt got frozen into a lake, and in the case of the larger birds some need water to run across in order to get airborne. In fact some go so far as to suggest it was ducks that first spoke the phrase, “Get my ass out of here.”

Apparently swans have a habit of staying just ahead of the freeze, and there is a Russian expression that states, “The swan brings snow on its bill”, because they tend to fly just ahead of the first severe cold. Therefore, when the first Bewick’s Swan landed in a sanctuary in Slimbridge, Glouchestershire a month earlier than last year, and earlier than ever reported since records started to be kept (in 1963), people feared it might signify the start of a long, cold winter.

http://travel.aol.co.uk/2015/10/13/uk-weather-longest-winter-50-years-siberian-swan-arrives-early/

The story was picked up by the Telegraph which added “Spurred on by bitter north easterly winds, many of the swans are currently gathering in the Netherlands, with 45 on Lake Gooimeer and 80 on Lake Lauwersmeer.” and they also had some cool pictures:Bewick's swans have migrated to Slimbridge every winter since 1963

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/weather/11926752/Britain-faces-longest-winter-in-50-years-after-earliest-ever-arrival-of-Siberian-swan.html

So there you have it, one of the rare cases of people in Romania agreeing with people in England.

People tend to form a beautiful variety of cultures which some, calling themselves “progressive”,  oppose, thinking a bland, international McWorld culture would be better, and individuality should be abolished in all its forms, including the variations that lead to some being called English and some being called Romanians. I think this would be a huge loss, and would be preferring the myopia of Cyclops to the depth perception which owning two eyes and two views allows.

However I must admit two views can involve distrust. Here in New England the Natives have always distrusted the Newcomers, and any deal made with “the other side” was suspect.  For this reason the word “Indian” was sometimes used (until it became politically incorrect) to indicate something you couldn’t trust. An “Indian Giver” was someone who gave you something they later took back, and “Indian Summer” was a late autumn warm spell liable to be followed by very un-summery weather. Even more politically incorrect was the word for an early cold snap, which often preceded an “Indian Summer”, which was called a “Squaw winter”. “Squaw” was the word for an Indian woman, and now is deemed very racist, sexist, and very, very naughty.  Therefore, in the bland spirit of internationalism, I should say, “Early Winter” and “Late Summer”. Bleah. I figure there are too few adjectives as it is, and if I have to say “An early winter followed by a late summer may mean a hard winter,” it lacks the meaning of, “A squaw winter followed by an Indian summer grows the stingy Yankee’s woodpile.” Political incorrectness communicates more.

In any case, the old, weatherwise Yankee I once knew didn’t say a squaw winter always foretold a hard winter. It did set them on edge, but they could speak of early snows that were followed by relatively mild winters. They knew weather is complex, and were always scanning the skies for updates.

However one thing they put a lot of stock in was the behavior of wildlife. I’m quite sure they would tell the people of England to pay attention to those Bewick’s Swans, even if the current cold spell is followed by a nice, long, warm spell.

(A hat tip to Ben Vorlich for alerting me to the swans in England. Also to http://iceagenow.info/ for the information about early snows in eastern Europe,) (which now includes Bulgaria:    iceagenow.info/2015/10/heavy-snow-in-bulgaria/  )

PS   …MEANWHILE, HERE IN NORTH AMERICA…

Here’s a report from Maine about how short the snow-free period was this year. (Maine is the most northeasterly state of the USA.)

PPS   …Meanwhile, in Russia…

From the site:  http://hmn.ru/index.php?index=1&ts=151014130514

Where snow cover was established?

IA “Meteonovosti” / 13:05 Wednesday, October 14

  October 14 national calendar – Protection of the day. On this day in Russia celebrated the meeting of autumn to winter. According to folk etymology, the name of the holiday is associated with the first snow that covered the ground. And where in Russia is now the snow has covered the ground? The snow cover is confidently gaining the north of the Far East. The white blanket has covered herself most of the territory of Yakutia and Magadan region, and in some places it has reached the height of 30 cm. Chance of snow (height 1-5 cm) is in the central regions of Khabarovsk and Primorye territories. In Eastern Siberia is a bit of snow, the snow cover was formed only in places Taimyr, Evenkia and north of Turukhansk district. But in Western Siberia, which in October had already been invaded by snow cyclone it is snow in most areas. In the south, the snow depth is substantially greater than 5 cm, but in the north, in the Yamal-Nenets district snow cover in some places more than 20 cm. Uncharacteristic early dressed in white Urals. After a heavy snowfall, which took place here at the end of the first decade of October, in the west of the Sverdlovsk Region the snow cover in some places more than 30 cm in many areas of the Perm region of 18 to 25 cm, is covered with snow and the South Urals. On the European territory of Russia is snow in the east Middle Volga (up to 5 cm). Closed by snow most of the territory of the Komi Republic, and in some places the snow depth reaches 30 cm. In the east of the Nenets Autonomous District of snow cover reached 10-15 cm. /  Meteonovosti.ru  /

“A million” mountain livestock dying of cold in Peru and Bolivia

Andes cold alpacas nieveAndes Cold - Bolivia - 2

The “Ice Age Now” site reports the cold events the mainstream media seems to avoid, and I was troubled when I came across two stray headlines.

Global Warming is suppose to make mountains warmer, and in some cases cause plants and animals to go extinct because they can’t migrate any higher than a mountain’s top. It seems some South American herders did move uphill during the warmer years of the past few decades, and now are paying the price as it is too cold at those altitudes this year.

It should be noted that in Peru the animals dying include alpacas, which are native to the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. (The person writing the second article obviously isn’t pleased by the Peruvian government.)

“This is a disaster unparalleled in our history. Of course, Ollanta Humala and his court seem to have been unaware. The presidential message of July 28 said iota about the tragedy. Frightening is the situation created by the snowfall that hit especially the poor peasants. The regime cares only for transnational mining poor things.”

(You may have to use your “translate” feature to read these articles)

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2292793&CategoryId=14919

http://www.connuestroperu.com/actualidad/punto-de-vista/47404-frio-mata-un-millon-de-cabezas

Argiris Daimantis sent this news item to the “Ice Age Now” site, and added insights that ought cause some shame:

“One lion killed in Zimbabwe has got a lot of attention in the Main Stream Media,” says Argiris. “A disaster unparalleled in the history of Peru gets no attention at all.”

“Even the President of Peru chooses to ignore this disaster.

“Why? Because this news might disturb the new Global Warming religion.”

LOCAL VIEW —More Boston Snow—(Updated with Summery)

Another brutal shot of cold air came slugging into New England on Monday. The temperature was still relatively mild just before dawn at 22.8°, but headed down as an arctic front passed through. It was interesting how the flurries became squalls to our north and to our south, but we lucked out and had just a few flakes wandering about. It was enough to make Monday a day-with-snow, but not anything I had to deal with, even with a broom, which was a good thing, as I was stiff and sore from snow-blowing on Sinday, and still had some porches and paths to clear.

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Temperatures had fallen to 15° by noon and were down into the single digits in the afternoon, with a gusty wind whipping up clouds of stinging powder, despite the fact there was just enough moisture in the Sunday morning snow to form the thinnest of crusts. The snow has been amazingly powdery this winter, and we have had no crust atop the snow to speak of. Sunday only gave us a quarter inch of crust, and then there was enough powder after the brief spell of sticky snow to allow the typical wraiths to swirl and twist, dancing wildly across the pasture and then charging away down the street, despite the brilliant sunshine from a February sun climbing up toward the regions it crosses in March.

I did not have to drive my gang-of-six to kindergarten, as the schools have let out for a week of vacation. This is a “Disturbance in the Force” [Star Wars] as it makes chaos of the routine. Traditionally Massachusetts would have its vacation one week, and folk in New hampshire would work like crazy that week because lots of people used the vacation to come north to ski. Then New Hampshire would collapse as Massachusetts went back to work the following week, and have its vacation the week after Massachusetts.

This is one of those traditions that makes less and less sense as time goes by. No longer is every hill in New Hampshire topped by a rope-tow run by an old Model T engine, which was once all it took to be a “ski-area”. Lawsuits and Insurance have put all the small family-owned ski-areas out of business, and all that is left are the larger resorts, which charge so much for skiing it is actually cheaper for a young family to fly down to Florida and go to Disney World. Also many near the border now commute down to Massachusetts to work, and in the case of teachers they have a vacation at their school a week before their children have vacation in their New Hampshire School.

My wife and I didn’t have the problems of modern parents, as we raised our five kids. We didn’t have to worry about ski-areas or Florida, for we couldn’t afford that, and instead took our kids sledding or skating or ice-fishing, (and I coached a basketball team for my boys that tended to play during vacations, as well). As a landscaper and handyman, winter was a time of little business for me, and I usually had to find some night-shift job at a factory, but this still meant I was around during the day. Meanwhile my wife alternated between being a stay-at-home Mom and the recreation-director of some nearby facility either focused on the first or second childhood. We got by, however the idea of spending a hundred a week on gasoline, or two hundred a week on Childcare, would have struck us as absurd. It defeated the whole reason for getting a job, (using up the money you made), and deprived you of time with your kids as well.

For many modern parents vacation is THE time, the ONLY time, they get to have with their kids, and I can’t blame them for wanting it to be special and involve some fabulous trip to Florida. However in some cases it is the same parents who tell me they can’t afford to pay their Childcare bill on time. Hmm. (Perhaps grandparents in Florida have taken pity, and paid for the airfare, because they want to see their grandchildren.)

In any case it makes a complete shambles of order at our Childcare. Children need wildness, but also have a craving for order and routine, and vacation is disorder. The chemistry of the Childcare’s mini-society is utterly altered, as children who usually go to school stay all day, and others who usually stay all day are in Florida.

Furthermore the winter has been so hard, and involved so many “snow days”, it is not as if the kids have been spending too much time at school. The routine was a shambles to begin with, and vacation is just a shambles on top of a shambles. But never mind that. As this winter has gone on it has seemed more and more like a boxing match, where you have to roll with the punches.

To return to the subject, I did not have to drive my gang-of-six to kindergarten. Therefore I scheduled a yearly physical at my doctor’s office.

To depart from the topic,  the way that doctor’s focus on physical reality annoys me. My father was a surgeon and my mother was a nurse, and perhaps I got an overdose of that focus, and responded by retreating into the landscape of an air-head. After all, of all artists, writers are the most air-headed. Painters at least employ the physical sense of vision, and composers at least employ the physical sense of hearing. Writers employ no sense, yet make sense. (I could describe a lemon and make your mouth water, without a lemon in sight.)

In any case, because I spend so much of my time in a non-physical world, winter really annoys me. It is always hitting me with stinging snow on bitter blasts, and forcing me to deal with boring physical stuff. In the same manner, my doctor wants to force me to deal with even more annoying physical stuff. For some reason he wants to look around inside my colon. This will mean I have to miss two full days of work, one of which I will basically spend sitting on a toilet crapping out diarrhea. All I can say is, doctors sure have a weird idea of what is good for you.

To return to the topic, the winds were howling and the snow was sifting and swirling and the weather bureau was saying frostbite could set in as swiftly as 30 minutes, and the children were lobbying to stay indoors. One bossy little girl had even decided who would stay in and who would go out. I walked in and stated everyone was going out, for at least 29 minutes. The little girl shot me a baleful glance.

In actual fact, dressing to go out is not an annoying task that tries the patience of both children and myself. It is, in and of itself, an “activity” which “promotes learning” and “stimulates the development of self-reliant skills.”  (You learn to talk this jargon, when you work this business.)

Anyway, to go out in barbaric weather involves mental stuff that is more important than physical reality.  Don’t get me wrong, I keep a sharp eye out for the slightest hint of frostbite. I also keep an eye out for the benefits being outside pours upon children, and adults as well, if they only dare step out the door.

Not a single child wanted to go in after 29 minutes. In fact the little girl who shot me the baleful glance about going out was annoyed at her friend, who wanted to go in after 50 minutes.

A member of my staff took the more delicate children in as I stayed out with the hardier ones, but one by one kids headed in, until I was at last out with one little boy who was even more hardy than I was. He was having a blast, sledding down cliffs I usually would forbid children from sledding upon, but which are now quite safe because any crashing plunks the crasher into a vast pillow of deep snow. Despite powdering his face with snow over and over, (the powder melts, and wet skin increases the danger of frostbite), his cheeks remained a cheerful and healthy pink, without the mottled, purplish look that tells me it is time to go in. We only eventually went in because I myself was feeling a bit mottled and purplish.

I might have been shuddering a bit, as we came in, but that particular boy was surprisingly serene, especially when you consider he is often a hellion indoors. To me it is one more example of how people who focus on physical reality, and won’t even allow children outside when temperatures dip below 20°, are completely missing a higher reality.

The physical reality got nasty as night fell and the core of the cold came down. 20150223C satsfc20150223C rad_ec_640x480_12

As the cold suppressed a storm to our south and shunted it out to sea, temperatures dropped to the lowest levels of the winter, reaching -10.8° (-23.8° Celsius) around midnight, before the wind dropped and began shifting more to the west, and temperatures rose slightly to -9° at sunrise.

Today was a cold day, with lots of high clouds in a cold, blue sky, but less wind. I built a fire out in the pasture for the sledding children to warm by, and had to admit it looked downright odd, as it was down in a crater, four feet below the surface of the snow.  I had to to careful kids didn’t fall into the fire, as they decended to warm by it, and carved a sort of staircase in the snow to make their decent less treacherous.

However the oddest thing about today was to hear a buzz of gossip about the city of Boston holding a gathering of ministers from different faiths to pray for help, regarding the problems snow was causing. This shocked me. It sounds more like the mid 1800’s, when Boston was the most prudish city in the nation, and the center of the “Bible Belt” of that time. I had thought Boston had now become too “secular” for such an event. Curiosity had me attempt to learn more.

As far as I can tell, the gossip is based about this video.

While I must admit it is a good thing for clergy to unite, rather than backbite, and for them to speak of neighbors loving neighbors, and brotherhood, and how “We are all in this together,” but….didn’t they forget something?  I mean, um, err, isn’t prayer suppose to involve this fellow called, um, err, “God”???

It seems yet another case where the physical unity of people and peoples ignores something sublimely non-physical. In any case, the prayer didn’t work. An interesting little storm is charging up the coast, and seems, somewhat incredibly, aiming to hit Boston with up to five inches, as I, only seventy miles away,  get a few lone flakes.

20150224A rad_ne_640x480_0320150224B rad_ne_640x480_0820150224C rad_ne_640x480_12

As this snow headed north to teach preachers in Boston to mention God more, when they pray, we got some southerly air, and a flurry of snow at 11:00  PM. (That keeps Tuesday from being a snow-less day.) Temperatures had fallen to 7.9°, but after the flurry arose to 9.4°.  We had a lighter flurry just after midnight (which keeps Wednesday from being a snow-less day) but now the stars are back out and temperatures have slipped back to 8.6°

The map doesn’t look all that threatening, in terms of snow, but it looks like another arctic blast is charging our way,  behind that cold front crossing the Great Lakes.

20150224C satsfc

Now it is time to quit attending to physical reality, and attend to dream-land instead. I’m only up because my left shoulder is so sore I can’;t sleep on it. That is another “healthy” thing my doctor did to me.

He advised I have a anti-pneumonia vaccine. Actually there is no germ called “pneumonia”, and the vaccine is for various types of staphylococcus bacteria. You used to be able to kill those bugs with antibiotics, but they have grown resistant.  In any case, I don’t have pneumonia, but have one heck of a sore left shoulder.

I’ll try to update this post, with information about how much snow Boston got ( if any ), tomorrow, but I must confess I’m getting tired of physical reality. Rather than update this post I may subject you to my “art”. I have a craving to finish up a chapter of my novel. If I find time, you’ll be faced with that, rather than an update. I apologize in advance.

UPDATE  —Another jab at Boston—

The snow clipped them with another two inches of snow, as we got the barest dusting. The edge of the snow was remarkably sharp.

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It is not as if 2 inches will close down Boston, but it keeps melting at bay. The bright March-like sunshine would melt away 2 inches a day, and the snow banks would gradually shrink, but the snow keeps coming. It is like jab after jab in a boxing match, but what all dread is the uppercut.  That would be a final storm where the features in the southern stream and northern stream “phase” into a big storm.  Rain would cause all sorts of problems, but a big nor’easter would utterly close the city down. I think things would basically grind to a halt until thaw did some major melting.

Actually the best site for seeing Boston’s trauma documented has been Joseph D’Aleo’s site at Weatherbell. It is well worth the price of a cup of coffee a day it costs me each day. One of the most eye-opening features has been this list of Boston’s statistics, updated regularly, and showing them get an amazing 8 feet of snow over the past month. (The red print is what is predicted, but hasn’t happened yet.) (Click to enlarge and clarify.)

Screen_shot_2015_02_25_at_7_52_01_AM

The above chart shows they will actually get a thaw down there today, and that I had better get things done in the sun, before bitter blasts return.  Actually I  have a rather easy day, and may actually have time to think and write a little.

In any case, we are starting to look west to the next features in the northern and southern blasts, so I guess this “snow-event” is over. Up here it won’t look all that impressive, though it did give us our coldest temperatures of the winter. All we got was a dusting.

20150225C satsfc

The radar does show both a southern branch and northern branch feature, but the forecast shows no “phasing”.

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A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THOUGHT’S POWER, AND PRAYER

Because writers spend so much time in a non-physical reality they tend to stumble into or through situations which strike some as being slightly “occult”.  Back before the word “telepathy” was invented Mark Twain wrote a couple of works about what he called “Mental Telegraphy”, involving what he called “crossing letters” (among other things). He noticed, over and over, that when he sat down to write someone for the first time in months, and even years, that person would also be sitting down to write, and their letters would cross in the mail. He wondered about controlling this ability, but beyond dabbling a little he tended to feel it was something he could only observe, and not use like people used the newfangled invention called the “telephone”.

I’ve noticed the same coincidences, and it has given me the sense our thoughts do have some sort of power. If this is a truth, then prayer has power, but also wishes have power, and desires have power.  All people are walking about transmitting thoughts which form an incredible jumble in the psychic atmosphere, and make me think that a true psychic would get a headache, for it would be like listening to a radio tuned into hundreds of stations at once. (Or perhaps it would be sheer static).

If all these thoughts do have power, the various powers likely are in conflict. For example during the Superbowl half the fans are praying for one side and half for the other, creating the chaos we watch and enjoy and call “football”.

In like manner, all people’s various wishes may indeed control the weather, but because they are conflicting they create chaos. The Baptists are praying for a sunny church picnic as the Methodists pray for rain on their corn, and the thoughts collide and create a tornado.

The weather would be far better if people could agree, but people don’t. Or that is how I explain the fact it often rains on picnics despite prayers for sun.

It is only the purest Atheists and Saints that arrive at the only solution to this chronic chaos I can envision. In the case of an Atheist there is no belief that prayer has any effect, so they accept reality as it is given. In the case of a Saint they say, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” so they too are accepting the Creation as the Creator created it.

If the general mass of humanity put the Creator first, and prayed for whatever weather He wants, we’d be living in a Garden of Eden, but the Creator didn’t create us that way. He must have a fondness for chaos, or at least be indulgent towards roughly seven billion children running around creating tornadoes out of serenity.

In any case, the people of New England are getting so fed up with winter there may be a slight chance a partial unity is occurring, and the power of all thoughts are deflecting storms south and out to sea. (On the other hand, perhaps the deep snow-cover is creating an increase in the high pressure over New England.)

LOCAL VIEW —Powder’s End—(Updated twice, with summery)

There is the word “rain” in the forecast. True, the forecast is for 4-6 inches of snow, ending as a glaze of freezing rain before we are clobbered by another cold wave, but it seems I haven’t heard that word “rain” for the longest time. It seems impossible, after the shot of cold we just took.

The core of the cold came in around dawn Friday. Temperatures had been plunging all night with squalls of snow, with the the final flakes flying after midnight and preventing Friday from being a “snow free” day, but by the dawn’s twilight the final clouds were hurrying away, purple buffalo galloping against the stripe of orange on the eastern horizon. Temperatures had dropped to around 5°. and were down to 2° when the brilliant sun peeked over the frozen landscape, and then, despite the brilliant sun, continued down. When I dropped the gang-of-six off at the kindergarten the dashboard thermometer read zero. (My thermometer at home, and a few others on my area, read higher, because a big drift covered the bulb.)

We didn’t even try to get the children outside at our farm-daycare.  Our focus may be the outdoors, but there comes a time to surrender to reality, and with the vicious wind whipping snow like stinging sand, surrender seemed wise. The best the thermometer could achieve, despite sunshine that made you squint, was 14° (-10° Celsius).

Meanwhile all eyes turned to the next storm, to our west.

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I had to shovel out the back of my pick-up and hustle off through the cold to pick up some grain and do a few other out of town chores. One involved a visit to a bank I don’t usually use.

I saw a funny incident at that bank. A very old man came doddering in, and a young lady started to hit him with some sort of bureaucratic crap, saying that they had changed their policy and now both he and his wife had to sign a certain check for him to deposit it. It was 9° out with a howling wind and drifting snow, and the old man’s nose was blue despite his extensive scarves, a collar that engulfed his chin, and a furry hat that looked several sizes too large. The young lady was basically telling him to go home through the vicious wind and then come back through the rotten weather a second time. Though the old man’s voice was very reedy and quavering, his eyes got very regal and piercing, and the young lady stopped talking in the middle of a sentence. After looking her up and down, he picked up a pen and wrote his own signature with one hand, and then switched hands and forged his wife’s signature with the other hand. Then he handed her the check, as if daring her to say something. She didn’t dare.

The bank also had a group of young men with checks they’d gotten from people for shoveling roofs. Briefly unemployment  as dipped in this area. One topic I heard discussed was how homeowners have ripped shingles from their roofs, attempting to remove snow with long ice rakes.

I stopped at several places looking for the pucks of calcium chloride you can toss up onto roofs to melt ice-dams. The problem people are having with ice-dams is so serious that everyone was sold out, however an old-timer at a hardware store told me it is cheaper to just buy a big 50 pound bag of calcium chloride, and then, when your wife isn’t looking, you take her nylons and make a tube of calcium chloride, and lay it over the ice-dam at the edge of your roof.

The worst of this arctic shot actually headed south well west of us. Places in Kentucky smashed their all time records, which is all the more noteworthy as it is nearly March. Joe Bastardi, at his blog over at Weatherbell (and some other sites as well), are pointing out that the National Weather Bureau is displaying their political bias, and their eagerness to promote a Global Warming agenda, because they have no problem trumpeting record highs when they occur, but when an all-time-record-low is set they question the thermometers. They disallowed an all-time-record set in Illinois last winter despite the fact the thermometer seemed to work correctly, but couldn’t disallow the new record of -50° set in Maine, when that thermometer was compared to five other thermometers and proved accurate. It will be difficult to ignore the records set in Kentucky because the old records were not broken by a mere degree. They were smashed.

Not that it means the world is getting colder. It means the core of an arctic air-mass was flung south with such speed it didn’t have time to warm up.

Our temperatures dropped below zero again soon after sunset, but by then the core of the cold was past, and winds were already starting to swing around to the southwest. Temperatures dipped to -1.1° ( -18.4° Celsius) before midnight,  but now have crept up to +0.3° as I suffer my usual insomnia at 3:40 AM.

The storm is gathering to our west, with more snow in the current radar shot than appeared in the shot at the start of this post.

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I have lots to do to be ready for the next storm, but have to waste half a day taking one of those adult-education courses the State insists Child-care-professionals take. This seems a perfect example of bureaucracy run amuck .  Rather than doing what common sense would have you do, you must fulfill some requirement they dreamed up, because what else have they got to do with their time?

I’ll make the best of it, even though I often know more than my teachers. There is something to be learned from every person you meet, even if it isn’t always what they are teaching. Also I’ve been working so hard, physically, that it may do me some good to just sit for a while.

Unloading feed for my goats in that wind yesterday did make sitting sound awful attractive, especially as the snow is so deep I can’t back my truck very close to the barn.  I’m the one who should be sitting around and dreaming stuff up. I need to write a novel, and make enough money to hire a young fellow to lug grain for me. Of course, I’ve been saying that for nearly fifty years. The whole point of becoming a writer in the first place was to avoid working a real job. However I’m glad that didn’t work out, for what would I have had to write about?

I’ll update about this storms as it happens.

CLASSY CLASS

I was not very happy about having my Saturday stolen, especially having to hurry in the brittle chill of -3.5° daybreak to feed animals and be on the road to the western side of Southern New Hampshire. I like to potter about unhurried on a Saturday. Instead I was being tossed about in a van with my wife and three staff members, because even the more civilized State Highways are starting to be buckled by frost heaves. Furthermore it only got colder. It was below -10° in the low, flat former-farmland that cradles the large town of Keene. As the women in the van cheerfully  chattered I glowered across a landscape that was a queer mix of brilliant blue and brass, as the arctic air gave way to the advance of southern storminess.  The sky was a confusion of high clouds, speaking of warmth far away as the world beneath was frozen solid.

The class was about introducing children to the outdoors. Considering this was the entire premise behind opening our Childcare nearly a decade ago, and considering the crap the State put us through for daring to step outside of the box of institutionalized childcare where children are basically incarcerated in a jail, there is a certain irony in the fact the State now requires I be “educated” about the subject. It was one of those situations where I could say a great deal, however my wife shoots me a certain look that implores that I button my fat lips.

The class was in two parts. We had a class in October where the idea was introduced, and now we were suppose to relay our observations and results, after trying out the amazing idea of allowing children to escape the suffocation of the indoors, and run where the air is fresh and free. I was a bit cynical about what people would say, seeing as how we have had just about the worst weather on record, and childcare-providers were given just about every reason there is to stay indoors.

I was glad I kept my big mouth closed, for it turned out to be very interesting to listen to how amazed the childcare providers were about how positive the experience of allowing the children to play outside was. Duh. But I did not even feel the urge to say “Duh”, because there is something better about people discovering things for themselves than you doing the discovery for them and ramming it down their throats.

One thing I have often seen is that, when a new child comes to our Childcare, they stand around and watch the other children for a bit, before getting drawn into the play. I’d always assumed this was due to shyness, and never considered the fact they might not be used to the outdoors. However as I listened to other childcare providers I heard that the entire group of children stood about, when first faced with the outdoors. In some cases even the staff stood about. It was as if they were all asking, “Now what?” It took a day or two before they even began to run about and enjoy the outdoors. That is how alienated modern society has become from fresh air. However, after only a day or two, a sort of enthusiasm bloomed, and soon parents were remarking that all children would talk about when they got home was how much fun the outdoors was.

This is something my wife and I accepted as a basic premise. Not that we deserve a medal for anything so blatantly obvious, but it nice to see some sort of affirmation: We didn’t invent the Truth; the mystery is why others don’t see it.

Originally the class was suppose to be held outdoors, but the instructor decided against that when she saw the dawn temperature was -15° (-26.1° Celsius) in Keene. However by 10:30 AM temperatures had risen thirty degrees to +15° (-9.4° Celsius). This is still “too cold” for children to be allowed outside at State-run schools, and it was refreshing to hear many state how stupid that ruke was, in a windless calm, for +15° felt warm.

They have had less snow in western New Hampshire, only 30 inches lay in the playground as opposed to 60 inches towards the coast. However the snow was deep enough to limit the children at that particular Childcare, when they went out to play. As I watched, the 30 or so women attending the class (I was the lone male) all got busy making paths and building various shapes, as a “surprise” for the children when they came in on Monday. (My favorite was a circle with an inward-facing bench, built of packed powder, which got dubbed “the hot tub”.

I carefully avoided being helpful. My body is so achy from a week’s worth of work making my own playground child-friendly that I figured I needed a break. Instead I just watched, and was glad I kept my big mouth closed.

YAHOO SNOWFALL

Temperatures rose to 21.7° (-5.7° Celsius) as the day dulled to gray. I was Home by 1:30 PM, ate lunch, and snoozed, and the snow was beginning at 3:00 when I finally got myself going. Temperatures promptly dropped to 21.0°, and then stayed within a degree of that as the day slowly darkened and the snow grew heavier.

I had to drive about a bit taking care of minor bits of business before winding up at the farm removing snow from roofs, and couldn’t help but notice the insanity of the young men. They were fishtailing about the roads recklessly, as I crept along carefully in my old truck. The snow fell in bursts, with a half inch in ten minutes, and then a spell of light snow before the next burst. I passed one field where young men were going wild in snow mobiles, and then at the farm, as I worked in the deepening darkness, I could hear the snowmobiles whining like deranged mosquitoes off in the distance.

I used to really hate the noise, the disruption of the peace, caused by snowmobiles. I prefered the quiet where you can hear the sound flakes make as they land.  Oddly, I found my feelings had changed.

The economy has been so bad I heard few snow mobiles, up until a week ago. Then young men were able to find work shoveling off roofs. Apparently, rather than being wise and putting their money in a jar and saving it, they bought gas for their snow mobiles, and are being foolish.  Why does that make me smile?

The radar showed snow decreasing in a more westerly band, and increasing in a band closer to the coast.

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INSOMNIA REPORT

Temperatures have remained level all night, and are at 21.2° at 2:30 AM. The snow seems to be slackening off, and the western edge os approaching. We seem likely to escape with only three inches. Boston continues to have its odd karma, and snow still looks heavy down there.

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The extreme cold looks to be hanging back behind a temporarily stationary front back over the Great Lakes. That front will charge south and have us back below zero on Monday night, but it looks like we’ll get a day of rest this Sunday. It might even get above freezing, which will feel like fifty to the frost-bitten populace of New England. Weekend after weekend we’ve had storms, but it looks like this Sunday we’ll at least manage a church service.

The Great Lakes are freezing up, despite the fact the cold has been centered over us and not them, this winter. Last winter they got the extreme cold, yet we are seeing as much ice as last year, (perhaps because the water was colder to begin with.) This is especially noticeable on Lake Ontario, which is closer to the center of this year’s cold, and which has more ice than last year.  Storms and strong winds have torn at the ice and led to decreases, but still the ice cover increases. This does not bode well for a balmy spring.

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ANOTHER INSOMNIA REPORT

A very weak wave rippled along the front as it pushed by yesterday morning, giving us a final flurry of snow, before the clouds broke and we got a kindly Sunday.

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Even though Boston got heavier snow, it was mixed with enough sleet and freezing rain to reduce amounts to something like an inch and a half. Nonetheless they are nearing an all-time-record for snow-in-a-single-winter, and have completely smashed their record for snow-in-a-single-month, despite the fact February has fewer days. (These records only go back to around 1870, and also I think they didn’t fuss so much measuring a half inch of snow, back in the old days. However they have broken the snow-in-a-single-month record by more than a foot.) Boston Harbor is choked with sea-ice.

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There is sea-ice all the way down to inlets in Virginia. I wonder if they include it in the “sea-ice totals”. Maybe not, as I suppose it doesn’t count as “arctic” and they are measuring arctic sea-ice.” But we certainly have been included in the arctic, the past month.

However yesterday was different. It was a brief break. We managed a church service, and I greatly enjoyed getting out of my grubby farmer clothes, even if I was back in them three hours later and back warring with the snow. To some it may seem quaint, rustic and even primitive to congregate and sing 200-year-old songs praising a Creator some doubt exists, but speaking for myself, it was a relief, and a joy.

Then it was back to the battle. I’d say we had 3-4 inches of fluff, very unusual as it came on a south wind, and drifted places (such as porches) that are usually protected from snow. As I cleaned such a porch I had a vivid memory of being a small boy back in the 1950’s, and hearing my mother remark, “This is very unusual. We don’t usually get snow on a south wind.” It gave me the sense we were back to a place we were sixty years ago, in a sixty-year-cycle.

My up-the-hill neighbors are getting a bit desperate, as the oil-delivery-man is a bit of a weeny and will not zoom up their drive like his predecessor did, and turn around in a vast flat area at the top, and instead insists upon creeping up the hill backwards. To be blunt, I am better at backing up than this fellow is, and I am not all that good at it. He veers into snowbanks, and churns the wheels a little, and then gives up in trepidation over the prospect of “getting stuck.” He insisted they widen the drive, so they fought back the snowbanks. Then he insisted they sand the driveway so they sanded it.  Now he apparently is saying the packed powder is too deep, and they must scrape down to the pavement.  (I doubt it will do any good, for even if the pavement was bare and dry, the fellow is pathetic, when it comes to backing-up.) In any case they have now spread hundreds of pounds of salt, which had no effect at first, because salt will not melt snow when temperatures dip below 20 degrees. Then, yesterday, temperatures rose above twenty, and the driveway, which had been paved with a half-foot of packed, squeaky snow it was easy to drive over, turned into six inches of a sort of dry slush, which they were attempting to shovel away. I took off my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, put on my grubby-farmer-clothes,  and went out to join them. I likely violated commandments involving Sunday being a day-of-rest, but gleaned a few points for loving-my-neighbor.

Having already broken the commandment about resting on Sunday, I headed over to our farm-childcare to snow-blow the entrances and exits and parking area. The roads were wet, for the salt which formerly had no effect was starting to work all over town, and it gave one the sense we were experiencing a thaw. No such luck. Even in the brightest and sunniest part of the afternoon we couldn’t quite break freezing, only achieving 31.6°. (-0.2 Celsius). However the slush that was created needed to be dealt with, as, if you don’t take care of it, it turns to rock when the cold returns. (I think the salt actually drains away as a sort of brine, leaving a slush behind that is salt-free.)

No one seemed to be taking a day-of-rest. Everyone seemed determined to avoid letting the snow get ahead of them. I saw no signs of the April-attitude, which doesn’t bother with clearing up snow because everyone knows the sun will melt it in a day or two. We are not there yet, and there seems to be an unspoken understanding that everyone needs to keep fighting. We can handle 3-4 inches of snow, but it is like treading water. Everyone knows we cannot handle a big storm. There is simply no place to put the snow.

However it does no good to worry about what might not happen. You deal with the cards you are dealt. As I finished snow-blowing, and sudden silence descended, I looked west to where the orange twilight was draining into the sky, and listened, and heard not even the sound of snowflakes falling. There were no snowmobiles roaring weekend joys, for the weekend was over, and mine was the last snow-blower to quit. All I could hear was the silence of a world smothered by snow.

There was no roaring of oncoming arctic air, though that is in the forecast. In fact even now, as I write this insomnia report, temperatures have only dipped to 21.7°. We are still in the lull before the next onslaught of winter.

The map and radar shows a line of light snow, as the arctic air closes in, but the night is still still, and the stillness suggests a song.

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This sort of arctic front can bring us unexpected snow, as the sun is high enough to add uplift and turn a flurry into a squall, but it isn’t here yet, and I am content to simply listen to the silence, before the pines again begin roaring.

The moonless night feels draped by pearled moonlight.
The once-cold stars now have twinkling eyes.
Something is happening out of my sight;
Something out of my mind now softens sighs.
Under the drifts of deep drowning snows
A simpleness stirs. It’s nothing fancy.
It’s old. It’s what a mother knows
Before the father knows of pregnancy.
It’s the first stirrings of sap down in roots
Before the first drop plinks in a bucket.
It’s an earthquake, but lawyers in sleek suits
Can’t feel it, or else sense and say, “Fuck it.”
Though forecasts are cold, it’s forecasting mirth.
It’s a silence utterly altering earth.

LOCAL VIEW —Oh No! Mo’ Snow! (Updated thrice) (With storm-summary)

It was down to -7.8°(-22,1 Celsius) as the sun first peeked over the horizon this morning to see what we humans were up to. It wasn’t a quiet dawn, as the drone of snow-blowers sounded from every direction. There was over a foot of powder to clear up, however powder snow is the easiest, and here and there streams of white arched in the landscape, as people hurried to assuage unforgiving bosses and avoid being late to work.  I’d done most of my clean-up yesterday, and only had to snow-blow the mounds the plows push back into the entrance and exit of the Childcare. However I was stiff and sore from the work, and that gives me plenty to grouch about, when I should be counting my blessings.

One thing to grouch about is the piles the plows push back into your driveway, or the neighbors surreptitiously arch in the road in front of your drive, so the plows push it onto your drive and not theirs. With between two and three feet of snow on the level,  we are starting to reach the point where people develop a chess-like strategy regarding the placement of the white stuff.

Another thing to grouch about is the fact teachers don’t seem to need to assuage their bosses, who are parents, on paper at least. They often are parents themselves, so they ought understand how it deranges a day to cancel school, and how the workplaces of taxpayers are rendered chaotic when employees can’t come in because their children are home, or, as often is the case, drag a child or two to work with them. However the real focus of most teachers seems to be to avoid having school cancelled too many times, for that would mean they’d have to work make-up days in the summer. To avoid that, they, (or their superintendent),  more and more often resorts to the “two-hour-delay”, which counts as a full day of school yet involves all the derangement of a no-school-day.

For some reason I couldn’t grouch properly. My first cup of coffee didn’t work. Perhaps my old body was simply too weary, but my brain felt so stupid I could hardly think. The roar of my snow-blower, which I’ve heard way too much recently,  stuffed my ears, and my head felt like it was stuffed in some pocket of wool: Hat and scarf and hood. All that was left was my eyes, peering mutely about as I worked. Perhaps that was the reason I found myself paying so much attention to the way the colors changed as the full moon sank and the sun arose. The snow never once was white. It shifted from blue moonlight to a muted green with blue shadows, as green twilight first blushed in the east, and then that became a muted pink with blue shadows as the twilight turned ruddy, and then the snow was suddenly salmon, as the sun peeked over the distant pines, and then faded through a spectrum of pastel hues, ending with a pale butter yellow.  The snow may have become white after that, but I was back home for my second coffee, and studying the maps. (Click to enlarge.)

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The forecasters are as weary as everyone else, though they don’t have to shovel, because they have been so wrong lately. You can be more correct if you add a half foot to their forecast of snow and subtract seven degrees from their forecast nighttime lows. I distrusted their forecast for “snow showers” on Wednesday night and Thursday, because the map looks a little like the map before the last storm. Hope notices the arctic high pressure is further south, but pessimism notices there is much more “juice” in the southern stream, down around Texas.

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I didn’t have time to dwell on the maps, because the phone rang. It was the Childcare. The heat was off. So I drove the mile back, and discovered the deep snow was starting to drift over the exit vent of the propane heater. I think it is wonderful that the modern heaters achieve such amazing efficiency that you don’t need a chimney, and that the outflow warms the inflow by surrounding the inflow’s smaller pipe, but when it gets down below zero the air exiting the pipe is so cool it can’t even melt the snow faster than it drifts, (and is shed by our snow-shedding roof). So all I had to do was scoop snow away from that vent, and everything was fixed, and I was a hero (in my own mind).

Since I was already there, I figured I might as well snow-blow a path across the playground, and out to the campfire in the pasture. The schools won’t even allow children outside when temperatures drop below 20° (-7° Celsius), but our Childcare focuses on the outdoors, and the children often clamor to go out when it is cold. However snow above my knees is snow up to their waists, so I find it is helpful to snow-blow some paths. After I’m done the main route out to the pasture and sledding hill, I go back to the playground and create curving paths that make a sort of maze. I also create a mound of snow by spiraling out and directing the chute to the center of the spiral. (I should take before and after pictures, because all the paths are cut neat and tidy before the children stampede out, but they can never resist leaving the paths to flounder a bit on the deeper snow, and the scene is one of devastation after an hour.)

I had cut all these paths after the blizzard, but as I looked out the playground appeared completely flat. Between two inches on Friday, howling winds on Saturday, and around 14 inches on Monday with lesser winds, all my work had been erased. Here and there you could see a faint trace of what had been a deep cut, and the mound in the center of the spiral still poked up, but everything else had to be redone. I tried to follow the old routes from memory, but the only real gauge I had was how the snow-blower strained in the deep snow. When it strained harder I knew I was off the path.

The snow was now definitely white in the brilliant February sun, which is so obviously higher than December’s, and has a surprising amount of warmth, even when the thermometer argues it is barely above zero.

I could tell when the temperature was above ten, for the salt suddenly started working on the roads. Below that the salt might as well be more snow, for all the power it has to melt. The streets remain white and snow packed, and the porthole road seems surprisingly smooth, until suddenly the salt starts working, and the white roads turn to brown slush, and even become bare on the bigger highways. This reminded me of arctic sea-ice, for up at the Pole it is so cold now that salt drifts with the snow atop the frozen seawater,  but in June the salt abruptly has the power to melt up there. It did make me feel a bit warmer to think of spring, and the sap first stirring in our sugar maples, but I had no time to post.

After lunch I had to hustle about at home, doing more shoveling. In a storm you do the bare minimum, but between storms you need to square off edges and clear paths to places you don’t go in a storm, for example to the propane tank and woodpile. Also it has been so windy snow sifted onto protected porches that are usually bare. And if you don’t carve a nitch and uncover your mailbox they won’t deliver your mail.

Then it was time to get back to the Childcare and greet the children as they awoke from their naps. I’ve gotten very good over the years at the strange skill of dressing a small mob in snowsuits and mittens. They rushed out and were all having a blast, though the day’s high was only 17.1° (-8.3 Celsius), and when the bus came the kids getting off were even more eager to play outside, after being kept indoors all day. There wasn’t a single complaint, but to me it seemed strangely colder. I always keep a careful eye on the children’s cheeks, alert for the rosy hue developing a purple tinge. I noticed the children gathered in a sunny, southwest-facing corner of the buildings,  even before the sun touched the pines and sent long shadows across the field, and then, even as I was starting to note the purplish tinge on one girl’s cheeks and thinking they ought go in, there was a spontaneous mutiny. All at once, there was an incredible chorus of whining, “I’m cold! I want to go in!”

Usually we stay out, as a member of the staff has been inside scrubbing and vacuuming and disinfecting and getting the place ready for the next day, and the last ting the place needs is a bunch of wet, snow-covered children messing it up all over again. However something about the way the air felt and the way the kids acted made me not even hesitate. We all went in and made a mess.

I was wondering what the difference was. It has been colder, even with wind, and the kids have not been troubled the least. What I think the difference was involved the dew point. When I got home I heard the weather radio inform me what the temperatures of nearby cities were, at 5:00, just as the sun set, and they had temperatures warmed by the urban-heat-island effect to just above 20°, but dew points down near zero. As soon as the sun set temperatures plunged.

The maps didn’t make me feel much hope we’d avoid more snow.

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The question is whether that northern-branch Alberta Clipper over Nebraska will scoop up the southern-branch low in the Gulf of Mexico south of Texas, and “phase” with it. I don’t see how they can help it, with that big high pressure in the way. Then the question becomes whether the storm will head out to sea south of us. The weather bureau seems to think it will bomb out to our south and miss us, as their main emphasis is on how cold it will be after the storm passes, but I did notice they are altering their language, and rather than speaking of “snow showers” they now speak of “snow” on Thursday. (Without stating whether it will be “light” or not.) Subtle.

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NEXT MORNING UPDATE: Temperatures may have crashed below zero before midnight, but a light overcast brought a halo to the moon, when insomia awoke me just after midnight, and the temperature was 0.8°.  I’d crashed very early, around eight, but the last thing my wife mentioned as I drifted off, unable to make sense of even the first sentence of a bedside book, was that the heater had kicked off again at the Childcare, for no reason she could see. It had started again without trouble, but she thought I should know. Insomnia can use a thing like that to keep you awake, so I dressed and headed to the Childcare in the dead of night, to make sure it hadn’t kicked off again, and pipes weren’t freezing. It was running just fine, but I took the opportunity to just stand in the yard and enjoy the moonlight.

It was amazingly and absolutely quiet. No distant scraping plows, no droning snow-blowers. Not even an owl.  It was as if the entire world was worn out after the storm, and sleeping, as a big moon cruised across a silent sky, seeming to smile and be playful, with its hoop a huge halo.

Now I’m up again and the temperature is up to 7.9° (-13.4° Celsius), at 4:30.  The map still holds some threat, but at least it looks like the first clipper may miss the connection with the Gulf of Mexico moisture. We might only get “snow showers” after all.

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The problem is that second low back over Utah. It is in some ways what is left of a Pacific storm, after “morphisticatin” crossing the Rocky Mountains. In fact I recall the old-school weathermen differentiated between “Alberta Clippers” and “Mountain Lows.” I suppose you could call it a “Colorado Clipper”, but it looks likely to catch up with that Gulf of Mexico moisture, and brew a storm up as it gets to the east coast. With the Atlantic so warm, relative to normal, it could get big before heading out to sea.

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Right now our winter is snowy, but still in the range of a “normal” winter. One more snow will tip us into the realm of major inconvenience.  It is all well and good to talk about a legendary winter from a summer armchair, but quite a different thing to endure it.

NEXT EVENING UPDATE: The first impulse pushed through this morning as a dazzling snow with the sun shining, falling from a pale blue sky made milky by the snow, dappled with sliding alto-cumulus. Temperatures rose slowly but steadily all day to a mid-afternoon 27° (-2.8 Celsius), and then, after hesitating and dithering, continued to creep upwards even as night fell to the current high of 29.8° (-1.2° Celsius) at 10:00 PM.

The map should be showing a warm front close to, and parallel to, the approaching cold front. Or so I feel.

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The southern moisture still hasn’t moved north and been combined to “phase” with the northern impulse, however it seems some modified Chinook-Pacific air has streamed east along the south side of the cold front, running into a stale arctic high on one side and a fresh arctic high on the other. It is almost an occlusion, a sort of tube of milder air streaming east as a long band of snow.

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In the above radar shot you can see a slight southward bump on the eastern edge of the snow, and in the more-recent close-up below you can see a second band of snow formed ahead of the first, and the two bands come together just to my west. 20150204C rad_ec_640x480

It looks like if I wait five minutes it will be here, so let’s wait. (Dum-de dum-dum da-da-dum-dum)

Sure enough, I just went out onto the porch and it is snowing like gang-busters. The street is white, the windshields are white, all man’s efforts to undo the winter’s work are being undone.

I’m not yet tired of this, as it is sort of neat to be midst what may become a winter of lore. However I confess my body is getting tired. When I was cutting blocks of packed powder, and starting an igloo I build for the kids at the Childcare nearly every year, I’d only cut six blocks when I noticed my arms felt like wet noodles. My old body feels like it is running out of gas, and I was very glad to see my middle son had split some wood for me and stacked it up on the porch when I got home from work. I don’t much like the prospect of needing to run the snow-blower again tomorrow morning, so I hope this snow is a quick passing thump, a swift inch which is just as swiftly over and done.

The snow now falling is utterly different from this morning’s, which was a dazzle in sunshine. This is a dump in darkness. However the trick is to see each has its beauty, and to marvel at the variety. In this manner, though winter wearies the body, it invigorates the mind.

I’d surrender to winter but winter
Doesn’t want me. I’d wave a white flag
But the white will wave back. Torture-splinter
Under nails, that’s the mercy that will drag
Me as a carcass for the crows, if I bow
To the attack. So instead I’ll enjoy
The beauty of the beast, see poems in how
Snow’s heaped as crystal sparks, and employ
A poem’s yeast to make bread that taunts famine.
Sweet revenge I’ll then have on cruel frost.
He who builds dams for up-streaming salmon,
And heaps fresh losses on the weeping lost,
Will see I am his cold snow enjoying
And therefore bring sweet spring’s snow-destroying.

ANOTHER MORNING UPDATE  There are three inches of fluff outside, with the fat flakes still falling. So I am off to blow snow. Temperature is a mild 29.7° (-1.3° Celsius) but there are wind-chill advisories for -20° (-29° Celsius) only twelve hours from now.

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EVENING UPDATE AND STORM-SUMMERY

The northern branch feature and southern branch feature have moved off the coast without ever truly combining and “phasing” into a proper gale center. They look like they are still in the process of the merge, and likely will get their acts together and bomb into a big gale up to the northeast, by Labrador or Greenland.

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You might think we escaped with a mere nuisance-snow, but the radar showed the snow was thick as it passed., even as it never sucked up the “juice” to the south. It left us with more than a nuisance, as it headed out to sea.

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All in all we got half a foot, which isn’t much ordinarily, but when you already have roughly three feet, (Or roughly four feet, if you live on the other side of Manchester where Joseph D’Aleo reports from), and when the forecast is for only a quarter foot, it makes a surprising mess of things, especially when the superintendent of schools bases his judgement on a forecast and doesn’t walk outdoors and sniff the air, and concludes that rather than cancelling school there should be a two-hour-delay. The resultant mess on the highways is best described as a “fracas”,  which is a sort of frowning “circus”.

Even glancing out through the whirling white in the dark before dawn I could see the snow had gotten so deep it was starting to cover the hastily and poorly placed sensor of my Christmas thermometer, and I didn’t have time to rush out and wallow across the yard to scoop the snow away, and therefore I’m only guessing that the high was actually 29.7° (-1.7 Celsius), before dawn. However as I hurried to to work I could already see the sticky snow was turning dry and powdery, and when I paused at the market I could see the plow-operators, (who were the only people there) had weary eyes turning from white to bloodshot. It was looking next to impossible to clear the streets for the school buses, with the snow whirling and falling at an inch-an-hour rate.

The streets were a mess. Though heavily salted, the salt had no effect when temperatures remained below 10° (-12° Celsius). The snow and salt was packed down into a squeaky surface that had decent traction, and built up to a degree where you found yourself stepping down into places you usually stepped up into, which suggests the packed powder was getting thick. However as soon as temperatures rose above 10° the salt started working, and packed surfaces turned to a strange, dry slush. It might have melted more, but the spike in temperatures was brief. Also the pavement beneath the packed snow was likely chilled to near zero (-18° Celsius). In any case, even if hadn’t snowed a flake, the rise in temperatures turned smooth packed streets into brown, rutted messes, and the mess would have needed to be plowed aside.

But it had snowed, and still was snowing vigorously, and the brown surface grew tan and then the color of overly creamed coffee, as plowing-vehicles churned around, attempting to make the mess ready for school opening two-hours-late. For every truck actually plowing the roads there were fifteen guys with plows on their pickups, attempting to plow driveways before heading off to their day-jobs. And one odd thing about these guys is that, when they plow a drive, a fair amount of the snow they push about winds up back on the street.

You would have thought we had at least a foot, the roads were so rutted as I drove to work, but when I started my snow-blower, (the electric starter only whined, but the pull-cord miraculously started it, on the sixteenth pull), I found I could operate the machine at third gear, walking briskly behind it, for at that point we’d only had five inches. I only needed to slow at the street, dealing with the brown slush. Soon the entrance and parking lot and exit of my Childcare was the cleanest side-road in town. However my brow was furrowed with worry when I looked out on the street, and saw the deep ruts, and knew plows would eventually pass and plug my entrance and exit. But, after a swift greeting of a few parents and some swift instructions to my staff, I headed off to my dentist, nearly twenty miles away.

It’s my fourth and last visit of the young year, and will just about bankrupt me, as Obama-care is useless in my case. I like to be presentable, but looked like someone who was up before dawn shoveling. I like to be on time, but got stuck behind a young mother with a van full of kids, apparently slithering along on bald tires, and I had to drive at 15 mph for seven miles. I expected to be in the doghouse when I arrived fifteen minutes late. Instead I turned up to be the only customer who had the courtesy to show up, and the entire staff doted on me.

In any case, I can chew again, and headed home through thinning flakes and surprisingly improved roads, past amazingly blocked driveways. When I got back to the farm-childcare I barely made it through the huge brown wall in the entrance plows had helpfully erected. Once in the drive, I drove easily to my parking place, and was confronted by a goat.

Goats hate walking through deep snow, beneath which they don’t know what their feet will come down upon, but Beulah had waded through chest-deep snow to nag at me. (Goats don’t baa; they nag.) So I fed her and the others, and the nagging chickens, and the patient rabbit, and then headed in to the Childcare to get nagged some more. A member of the staff had the flu’, and I needed to both care fore children and clear the entrance and exit of the Childcare.  Don’t ask me how I did it. It’s amazing what you can do if you have to.

(One law states you can’t leave children unattended, while another states if the entrance of your Childcare is impassable, you need to close down. What would you do?)

As I chugged about pushing the snow-blower in low gear, removing the heavy, brown, and oddly dry sludge from the entrance and exit, I could feel the cold intensifying. The wind was starting to whip about whirlwinds of powder. The clouds faded to the east and the sun shone brilliantly, but the cold kept increasing. By the time the sun dipped behind the pines the wind was so cruel I moved all the kids inside.

And now, as I look at my Christmas thermometer, (which has been cleared of snow), I see we are dipping below zero at ten o’clock. Where we spent 24 hours on Tuesday with temperatures rising, we are now midst 24 hours with temperatures falling.

Just as the forecast was for a quarter foot, and we got a half foot, I expect temperatures will plunge below the forecast of “four above to four below”. At this rate we will be sinking past four below by midnight. The poor forecasters are slaves to computers that just can’t fathom the fierceness of this February.

People south of here have no idea what we are going through. As a weather geek, I hear weather nerds complaining they haven’t had enough snow, and the cold predicted by the computers never happens.  Down around Washington DC the nerds are complaining they’ve had no winter.

I’d be glad to export our conditions, and usually I could expect it to happen. In the past I’ve seen deep snow create, or attract, cold high pressure, which ends a snowy time and shunts storms south of New England.

I’m actually expecting this to happen, but the computers are not seeing it yet. Instead they see a single sunny day tomorrow, and then increasing clouds Saturday with snow late, and then snow on Sunday, snow on Monday, snow on Tuesday…

Oh No! Mo’ Snow!