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.”