LOCAL VIEW –Reason To Hope–

For a while the long range forecast was suggesting south winds would surge this far north, and temperatures would touch 70°F (21°C) this weekend, but now the forecast for Sunday is for snow.

Sunday Snow FullSizeRender

This sort of crashing disappointment is hard to bear, but I always turn my eyes north to Canada. They suffer worse winters and later springs. Surely they know how to handle such despair.

Yes the answer is to make a joke.

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LOCAL VIEW –Grumpy Humor #287–

This appeared on a Facebook page called “Legal Insurrection”, and then on the “Ice Age Now” site. Apparently it is someone’s wry joke that is now going viral. Trump fixes Global Warming 29790811_10156289670494486_177478172852994533_n

So far April in the USA has been 4 1/2 degrees below normal in the USA, which is the coldest April since 1982. Here is a map from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at the Weatherbell Site showing how much below normal it was yesterday.

April Cold 1 ncep_cfsv2_4_t2anom_usa(27)

A slug of Gulf of Mexico heat will try to punch north, likely creating big storms and tornadoes down south towards the end of the week, but I doubt it will make it this far north. We just shiver and shudder and wait for May.

LOCAL VIEW –Wink–

Here is a picture of children not being obedient. I told them to wait. They are vanishing into the distance. (Actually this is a zoomed-in part of a larger picture; you can barely see them in the larger picture.)

Kids in woods FullSizeRender

In a sense children are a lot like life. They refuse to follow the plan, and this can cause all sorts of different sorts of dourness to afflict us. One thing I’ve recently been noticing is the cure often isn’t words.

This is bad news for people like myself, who have invested a lot into the study of words. It is also bad news for people who don’t think talk is cheap, and make it expensive, such as psychiatrists. But again and again I’ve recently seen members of my staff, and the young parents who are my customers,  not only say a lot with a wordless gesture, but seem to solve a problem as well.

Solve a problem? Yes, because everything is stressed, and then, just by the way they roll their eyes, or give themselves a face-palm, they cause laughter to come to relieve the stress. This is bad news for the pharmaceutical industry.

I’ve been noticing this phenomenon so much that I’ve started to study it. As it is beyond words, I don’t suppose I can find the words to describe it, but sometimes poetry is within a glance. We say a person “beams” at us.  It makes me think we should observe silence from time to time, for otherwise words, whether spoken or written,  can become mere yammering. Silence is golden.

Most recently I saw this wonder within a wink. Not a word was spoken. A person just winked, and my heart was eased by a good laugh. It got me thinking, and looking backwards across the years…

…Musing backwards to days I spent drifting,
When shaving and showers were luxuries;
When shopkeepers thought I’d likely be lifting;
When hunger made appetite easy to please
And downwind of kitchens was Oh so delicious,
I couldn’t help look unworthy of trust.
One look at me made policemen suspicious.
I practiced innocent looks, or got cussed,
But one day I decided to risk arrest.
I saw a bored girl in a black limousine
And as I slouched by I gave her my best
Roguish wink. I wish you could have seen
Her sour face dawn a recalcitrant smile.
It made being a drifter completely worthwhile.

LOCAL VIEW –Some Pity, Please–

I didn’t heed financial advisers
So what I now own is my own fault.
I find I envy lonely old misers
Clinking their coins in a lonely old vault.
It’s not their coins I desire, but their quiet.

Quiet’s so rare I cannot conceive it.
In my house women rampage and riot.
Four generations! Can you believe it?

My friends who loved money gained fat pensions
And were without wives. All their cares were shed;
They should have known joy, without tensions.
Instead loneliness swiftly struck them dead.

Me? Don’t ask. I’ve no time to reflect.
I get no quiet. I get no respect.

rodney-4312-4608-wallpaper

One interesting aspect of Rodney Dangerfield’s humor is that it is an appeal for pity, but rather than pity it earns laughter. (“I know I’m ugly. I’ve always been ugly. When I was born the doctor slapped my mother.”)

Within the laughter is a joy that laughs at our sorrows. It is a recognition that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, it is good to be alive. It sees the glimmer of God even in a devil of a day.

All the same, I wouldn’t mind some pity, at times. (Preferably cash.) However I have a bad habit of always comparing my lot to people who are worse off, and that spoils my ability to play the violins. I start out with the violins, and then have this strange urge to insert a tuba.

For example, as a writer I prefer quiet, but despite the fact all my children are grown I never seem to experience the so-called “empty nest.” I have taken to getting up in the middle of the night to write, for that is the only time it is really quiet. Consequently I often lack sleep, (even though I go back to bed, and get to sleep twice a night, whereas others only get to sleep once). When I get up to go to work I feel like death warmed over, and want some pity.

Then I compare myself to a person who actually was the most unfortunate person in the world, for a day. I’m referring to myself 33 years ago. I was spurned and broke and living in a desert campground, and wrote this unhappy song:

I think I am going to die soon.
I see a skull’s face in the full moon
And high in the sky hear a mad loon
Luting a lonely and sad tune.

Why am I staying here grieving?
Who do I think I’m deceiving?
Why am I staying here groaning?
Life’s just a way of postponing.

Some body some body
Ask me to stay.

All I need to do is remember the horrible loneliness of that mournful twilight and all the noise I experience now doesn’t seem so bad. However I figure that shouldn’t disqualify me from pity. Maybe I don’t deserve a whole concerto of violins, but a lone fiddle might be nice, once in a while.

Recently my mother-in-law deserved the pity because she couldn’t go to her warm place in Florida because she was recovering from an operation. I agreed that the sooner she went to Florida the happier everyone would be. Finally she was able to go, provided someone went along to help her open up her house. I was willing to sacrifice the beauty of snow for a bit, however I was too indispensable to my workplace to go. In the end my daughter took on the task, but that meant my wife and I had to watch our granddaughter, who is three.

My sleep was even more disrupted, for the small child had the habit of crawling into bed with my wife and I at all hours of the night. It was cute, the first time, but the little girl kicks a lot in her sleep. Also sometimes she’d wake before me, and seemingly decided my upturned face was a good road to drive her toy cars over. It was a strange thing to wake up to.

However it was a perfect thing, when it came to getting me some pity. When people asked me, “How’s it going?” I didn’t need to respond, “Fine, and you?” Instead I could answer, “Things are not good.”

This forces people to raise a sympathetic eyebrow, and ask “Oh?”

Then I could say, “I’m terribly run down. This morning I was run over by a cement truck.”

I would then look at them and wait for them to correct me, saying something like, “You mean you felt like you were run over by a cement truck,” but no one ever took the bait. Maybe they know me too well. Instead they tended to look curious, and wait.

So I’d add, “Can you believe it? An actual cement truck ran me over. I took a picture of it with my cell phone, and can prove it to you.  Here. Take a look:”

run-down-feeling-img_4361

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Chit Chat–

I have never been good at chit-chat, as my family had the good sense to be dysfunctional, and we skipped all the humdrum banality of yawningly dull niceties, such as Christmas cards, gossip, and staying-in-touch. My brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews find sea-ice pretty boring,  and I don’t blame them. (Heck if I can explain why I myself find it so engrossing). The last thing I would want to do is belabor the subject, at a reunion, if we ever bothered to have such a thing as reunions. Nor would they be so rude as to belabor me with the idiotic stuff they are interested in. That is the whole thing about being dysfunctional. I get to focus on sea-ice, and they get to focus on their stuff, and we don’t get in each others way.

My wife’s family is totally different. They are functional.  Oh lord, are they ever functional! I groan, when I hear I must attend some barbecue. Sometimes I need a chart,  just to know who half the people are. And very seldom is even a single person interested in sea-ice.

When I bring up the subject of sea-ice at such a barbecue I feel like the guy in the movie “The Graduate” who says what is important is plastics.

Therefore I tend to zip my lip, and let the other person be the fool. My wife doesn’t approve of this. She feels I should be more outgoing.

It is the most amazing thing to watch my wife at a family barbecue. She will walk up to a total stranger, and inquire, “What brings you to this party? What is your connection?” Rather than feeling she is nosy, people love her. It often turns out the person she is cross-examining is the girlfriend of an in-law’s in-law, and was feeling completely miserable and wondering why she came, when suddenly she meets my wife, who is truly interested in her. So the newcomer spills her guts. It can be interesting, but it is seldom about sea-ice.

This has been going on for more than a quarter century now, and, because I hang around in the background as my wife interviews people, I have learned an extraordinary amount about stuff that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

I have learned that some people who are not interested in sea-ice turn out to be interesting people, but also have learned that other people who are not interested in sea-ice remain boring as can be, no matter how many years pass.  Oddly, even they have become interesting to me, because I am curious about what their next inanity will be. Maybe it will not be, “One word, ‘plastics'”, but it will be some profundity such as, “Who doesn’t like chocolate?”

Anyway, it is hard enough to focus on sea-ice on an ordinary summer, with so many barbecues to attend, but this August my middle son is getting married. I figured this wouldn’t involve me, as the ceremony is the bride’s father’s business, and I thought I could get down to being dysfunctional and focusing on sea-ice, but it isn’t working out that way. My wife has built up a head of steam, and the wedding is to be on the farm where I run my Childcare, and not only do I have to move some perfectly good dysfunctional tractors I have sitting about, but I have to keep the garden weeded. Finding time to focus on sea-ice is looking unlikely.

Therefore I may not post much in the next 40 days. I ask the few, the brave, the proud, who do care about sea-ice, to forgive me. After all, you are the people I enjoy, and you talk about stuff I care about. If I was truly dysfunctional, I’d tell my family where they could go, and then hang out with the people I find delightful. However my wife is determined to make a functional man out of me, (and is delightful in her own way), and she is leading me astray.

When I do post about sea-ice it will, I fear, lack the depth I like to achieve. I’ll post in a breathless hurry, and it will seem like mere chit-chat. My hope is that the people who comment will do what they have done in the past, and add depth to my superficiality. Look to the comments, for depth, until after August 6.

I myself am only finding the time to barely glance over data, without digging. I will say it is looking like there is a chance the Pole will start hoarding its cold, with a more zonal flow, even though polar outbreaks are still bringing refreshing coolness to places ordinarily hot in late June, such as Indiana in the USA. We will have to see if this “zonal” scenario actually happens, but there are a few hints the cold will be restrained to the north, for the Pole is unexpectedly below normal. (It is unexpected because last winter’s El Nino would have one expect above-normal warmth at the Pole).

DMI3 0627 meanT_2016

My sea-ice curiosity is wondering what the heck could make it cooler than normal when it should be warmer. What could counter the El Nino? But I have a wedding to attend to, so I just breeze over it and say it must have something to do with the “Quiet Sun”, and make cryptic references to someone called “Svenmark”. However other people, who don’t have weddings to attend to, have the time to come up with fascinating postulates.

To even suggest the sun has an effect often gets you scorned at Alarmist sites, as they obsess on CO2. But people with broader minds allow more variables, and do consider that the sun might have something to do with heat in the summer. Some interesting ideas were brought to my attention by the blogger “ren”, (see past posts), and make me wish I could do justice to the topic. In reality I’d get in trouble if I spent time researching cosmic rays when I’m suppose to be getting ready for a wedding.

Therefore you must do it. Some solar waves should reach the Pole in the next few days. Because solar stuff is not included in the weather models, the forecasts of models should be wrong. After June 30, watch for the models being very wrong at the Pole.

To be honest, if I had the time to research, I’m not sure I’d be as forward-looking as “ren”, for I am backward-looking and like to study history. Alarmists like to begin sea-ice history in 1979, and are accused of wanting to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, but I’m curious about a far more recent “warm period” which involves World War Two.

(Why?  I suppose it is because my mother’s first boyfriend was a British sailor who likely died bringing Stalin supplies. His letters abruptly ceased around the time an arctic convoy got destroyed by Hitler’s navy. A tender part of my mother also got destroyed, which made me curious about the details, which involves sea-ice, and where it was during World War Two, which happens to be a time people were far too busy staying alive to care much about something as remote as arctic sea-ice, unless it involved a convoy in Barents Sea.)

Convoy 1 ww2mR110Arctic

Alarmists seem as eager to “erase the 1930’s warm period” as they are to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, because they like everything simple, and want temperatures to slowly rise and never fall. However disturbing charts keep appearing.

Convoy 2 04-giu-16-MAAT-70-90N-HadCRUT4-Since1900

You can see from the above graph why Alarmists chose 1979 as a starting point. (I sometimes wonder why they didn’t chose 1961.) But you can also see there was a warm period, even warmer than the current warm period, peaking in the Dust Bowl times of the Great Depression.  There was a cold spell at the start of World War Two, but also a warm spike in the heart of that war.

These are but cold facts to many, but to me they have a warmth, for they involve a person without whom I would not exist: Mom. These cold graphs, charts and statistics involved something called “reality” to her. She knew the poverty of the Great Depression and the death of World War Two. She didn’t want to talk about it, because she believed in the goodness of being dysfunctional, but I was a brat, and pestered, and learned the Truth.

The short version is this:  It was far safer to send convoys to Russia during the winter, when darkness hid the ships, but that was not enough. Stalin was desperate and needed more supplies. Therefore convoys had to be attempted during the summer, during the glaring light of a midnight sun which allowed the Nazis to see, and the first attempt at a summer convoy was a nightmarish fiasco. Lots and lots of good men died because a bad man called Hitler was at war with a bad man called Stalin.  Even though the USA was not at war at first, my mother’s heart was with England, and then it got shattered.

How might a teenager feel when the guy she adores abruptly stops writing letters? Not that the press was allowed to tell the whole truth during the war, but the press could hint at the truth when a British convoy got creamed. My mother was no dunce, and she could figure out why the letters stopped. No happy-ever-after for her. And did that effect her attitudes? And, a decade later, did that effect me?

The answer is, “Yes.” But Alarmists don’t care about what really effects people and what really matters. The subtle heartaches that rule our lives (unless we bring loving understanding to bear) mean nothing, for Alarmists are too determined to be simpletons, and to insist CO2 matters more than history, even to the degree where they ignore history.

Let me be blunt. Alarmists may clasp their hands and exclaim that they care, but caring involves more than saying you care. It involves understanding, and searching, and study, and if you can’t be bothered with that,  then you don’t care. The truth is Alarmists can’t be bothered to care. I don’t see why they can’t be honest about it, the way I’m honest about family barbecues. But Alarmists seem beyond being dysfunctional, like me.  They are dsy-dysfunctional. They don’t want to be functional like my wife, who wants to know your history, or dysfunctional like me, who wants to study other history.  To put it mildly and avoid bad words, they are flipping, hopping, complete crackpots who want to blame a trace gas like CO2 for problems, and have no use for history at all.

If you want to determine if a person is truly an Alarmist, bring up the history of sea-ice before 1979. You will swiftly see they do not want to hear. They call me a denier, but they deny the past. It is too respectful and flattering to call them by a word as accurate as “Alarmist.”  It likely will not catch on, but they deserve to be called by a word I have made up, “Dysdys.” They are a bunch of Dysdyses.

I need a break from these idiots. It probably is a blessing I’m going to be too busy with my son’s wedding to focus much on sea-ice. To deal with a Dysdys is often an exercise in infuriating futility. “They have eyes but cannot see; they have ears but cannot hear.”

If I get time, I’ll add some maps tomorrow. But that will look like I am trying to persuade the Dysdys with actual evidence.  After a decade of trying, I have doubts they are anything other than impervious to evidence.

You know what the Dysdys need? They need chit chat. They need to be sitting at a barbecue where they know absolutely no one, with a sneering nose wrinkled disdainfully, and face the ultimate challenge:  My wife walking up, and hitting them full blast with her caring chit chat.

Unfortunately for them, she’s mine.  I’m not sharing.

*******

As promised, here are the recent maps. “Ralph” has been reinforced by blurbs of low pressure swinging around from West Siberia.

The midnight sun really cooks the Tundra now, and any land breeze will bring heat north a ways over the sea-ice. The mosquitoes are murder, which is why polar bears stay out on the ice. In fact a little-known  theory states the only reason polar bears evolved was to avoid mosquitoes. (It is little known because I just made it up.) By the way, the heated Tundra is known as “baked Alaska”. It shows as red in the temperature maps along the coasts.

The ice extent is declining in its ordinary manner, so, to liven things up, DMI decided to meddle with how they do their extent graph. (Expect an uproar.)

DMI3 0628 icecover_current_new (1)

Here is their explanation:

New graphs

We have improved the algorithms calculating sea ice concentration and extent. Consequently, on June 28, 2016, we updated the graphs of ice extent with new data of higher quality. In particular, calculation of ice concentration in coastal zones have been improved, but also calculation of ice concentration in the Arctic ocean is improved with this new setup.

The sea ice extent data from 1979 till today is composed by a Climate Data Record (CDR, OSI-409a), an Interim CDR providing updates with one month delay to the CDR (ICDR, OSI-430) and an operational setup that calculates sea ice extent for the period between the ICDR and today. Further, the algorithms behing these three products are now more consistent than the previous processing chain.

This switch to new algorithms has led to small changes in the trends of sea ice extent since the first year of the data set, but it has not changed the general picture of ice extent decline.

You can read technical and validation reports of the products here.

Compared to last year, there is less ice northeast of Alaska but the ice is much slower to thin towards East Siberia. (2015 to left;2016 to right)

It does rain at the Pole during the thaw, and I think O-buoy 14 saw some, mixed with wet snow. It has seen little sun, but a swift increase of slush.

Obuoy 14 0627 webcam

Obuoy 14 0628 webcam

The open water along the horizon has closed up, but I expect it will open again soon. This camera should be bobbing in open water before September, as it is much further south than our old North Pole Camera used to be.

Now I have to go make a scruffy farm look presentable.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Reptiles Rule, Almost–

Every spring is different, and what has made this one unique has been the after-effects of a warm spell at the end of March followed by a deep freeze the first week of April. Certain flowering shrubs and trees, such as forsythia and black cherry, were right on the verge of blooming, and then seemed to put on the brakes. When the cold passed I waited for them to resume their budding and blooming, but the buds were blasted. The leaves came out, but there were simply no flowers this year.

I can’t tell you how much I missed the forsythia. It is such a happy bloom. It’s suppose to look like this amidst the late winter gray.Forsythia x intermedia Lynwood

Instead of that happy splash of color there were just stark stems, gradually leafing out with green. The cherry trees also just gradually leafed out. You could kiss your haiku sayonara.

Ordinarily the blooms, and especially the yellows, of spring evoke a sort of rollicking response in me. When I was a teenager, (after a winter that seemed particularly tragic to me, because a certain girl refused to smile),  even the yellowing of the branches of weeping willows defeated depression and prompted this joy:

Is that there a willow tree
In the winter’s gray?
Clowning yellows happily
And laughing in its play:
“Spring will come some day!”

Can it be a hidden grin
Is bursting out aloud?
A boatless sailors porpoise fin?
I see you’re in
Beneath your shroud.

But that was yesterday, and yesterdays’s gone.

Actually those two fellows are far too happy, singing that song. They fail to be morose in the proper manner. (Perhaps I should have linked to them singing, “Willow weep for me”.)

To live through a spring without the initial blooms is a sobering experience. After all, black cherries feed a lot of birds and critters, and it looks like there won’t be any, this year. Birds will be forced to seek alternative sources of nourishment, such as my vegetable garden.

The weather has gradually warmed in a desultory sort of way, and even the cold-blooded reptiles are stirring. Of course, snapping turtles are not welcome at my Farm-childcare, as their bite can take a child’s finger off. Yet one made an appearance today, though it was camera shy:

Snapping turtle IMG_2938

The males never leave the water, and tend to be draped by festoons of slimy algae, but the females can lumber quite amazing distances from their ponds to lay their eggs. Sometimes they travel five miles.  I think they don’t much want to share their ponds with their own children, or perhaps they don’t want the tiny offspring to be lunch for the grouchy fathers. The children are about the size of the lens in an average pair of spectacles, while the female in the above picture had a shell 18 inches (46 cm) from front to back. You shouldn’t be fooled by their lovely, friendly faces

Snapping turtle snapperhead

Photo credit http://mentalfloss.com/article/68505/10-biting-facts-about-snapping-turtles

Because they have very long necks

Snapping 3 common-snapping-turtle-breathing-at-surface-of-the-water (1)

Photo Credit  http://www.arkive.org/common-snapping-turtle/chelydra-serpentina/image-G136674.html

And they can bite you when you think you are at a safe distance.

Lastly, small children at a Childcare are not known for following orders. In some ways a farm is a good way to teach children to listen to elders; especially the older boys who are more rebellious. I once derived a certain smug and silent satisfaction when I witnessed a young know-it-all fleeing the rooster, setting a record for the hundred yard dash across the pasture, with the rooster a close second. I had repetitively warned the lad, “Stay away from that rooster”, but he wouldn’t listen. After the dash I didn’t have to say a word; the rooster had done the teaching.

On another occasion, after repeatedly telling a nine-year-old boy not to tease a particular goat we called “The Mean Queen”, I watched as that goat singled him out and, ignoring all the other children, stalked him like a cat does an unwary mouse, and gave him a good clout, pinning him against a tree. (The goat was hornless). The boy shot me a startled glace as he wriggled away from the goat, but I only shrugged and spread my palms in a way that was sign language for, “I told you so, but you didn’t listen, did you?”

However having a child lose a finger seems like going a wee bit too far, in my policy of letting children learn, from mistakes, that elders are doing more than ruining the fun, when they give orders.

We get many small children who arrive at our Childcare without any self discipline; wee tots turned into tyrants by permissive parents; and it takes me a while to teach them I am a fierce old grouch, a force to be reckoned with, as my “no” means “no” even if they tantrum until they are blue in the face.  (I might get faster results if corporal punishment was allowed, but it isn’t.) Progress is very slow in some cases, and I can’t take chances with a four-year-old “testing his boundaries” when I tell him to avoid a snapping turtle. Therefore I tend to get rid of snapping turtles at our Farm-childcare, when I can.

There shouldn’t be any uproar about turtle-removal, for snapping turtles are not endangered species in these parts, and about the only good they do is reduce the population of invasive Canada Geese by nabbing the cute goslings as they swim behind their parents. (Every golf course should import snapping turtles into their water hazards, to rid the fairways of Canada Geese.) Therefore there should be no uproar if we get rid of a turtle in the most natural and efficient way, which is to eat them.

We did eat a big old male, once, (and I have never chewed a tougher and more rubbery meat; I must have prepared it incorrectly.  I stewed it, and no amount of boiling would soften the meat.) However I have since learned modern mothers have soft hearts about most everything.  They are very spiritual, believe the lion should lay down with the lamb, and likely have never seen five cute goslings swimming behind a mother goose abruptly become four cute goslings behind a mother goose.  If they saw that their opinions might change, but as it is they are so softhearted they can make me feel guilty about putting a worm on a fishhook. The long version of this education involved a time I showed the kids how to make woodchuck stew, and if you have the time you can read about my education here:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/groundhog-stew/

The short version is that I’ve learned it is safest to either make sure parents sign a permission slip, or look over both shoulders surreptitiously, before I so much as bait a hook.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate being educated by mothers younger than my daughters, and I may become a Buddhist yet, as I contemplate the feelings of worms as I hook them. (If not a Buddhist, I may become a fly fisherman). However it does seem odd young mothers want to control me, when they can’t control their darling toddler Adolf.

In any case, a snapping turtle on the Childcare property does present me with a bit of a problem.

This snapper would not even give me a decent picture. (That is why I had to use the pictures of others, and supply photo credits). I like taking my own pictures, but this female only poked her long neck up like a periscope once, and then, seeing I hadn’t left (and before I could aim my camera), ducked back down. She nestled more deeply into the leaves , and occasionally heaved a sigh, but didn’t poke her head up a second time, (which would have made a great picture.)

I waited and waited. I was so silent I could hear the grass grow, which reminded me of the job I was doing, when I first saw her, (mowing the grass.) Grass sometimes seems it is the only thing that is growing, this stunted spring. It’s a blasted nuisance. I’d rather watch a turtle than make a racket with a mower. But sometimes a man’s just got to do what a man’s got to do.

I use up lots of gas. It’s how I earn my pay:
Cutting lots of grass but never making hay.
Hay could feed some sheep which could feed and cloth the poor.
It makes me want to weep. Just who am I mowing for?

I’m a lawn-mowing man! I make the noise pollution!
I just do what I can, and await a revolution.

I kept checking on the turtle as I mowed, but she just stayed there, until I decided she must be laying eggs. This got me thinking. Turtle eggs make good eating, though they have some odd qualities. The whites never turn white, even if you boil them an hour, and therefore you need to fry them, or get over your dislike of uncooked whites. In either case, cooking turtle eggs would be yet another activity that makes my Childcare different from other Childcares.  At the very least, thinking about it kept mowing-the-grass from boring me to death.

It takes longer, but one thing I insist upon as I mow is bagging all the clippings and using them to mulch the garden. It cuts back on weeding, (which I like only slightly more than mowing), and also it makes mowing seem less pointless and useless. I mean, if people are going to worry about Global Warming, and yet use up umpteen gallons of fossil fuel cutting grass, and never use the grass for anything useful, then they will never dare criticize me, for I actually utilize what I cut. Right?

Wrong. I’ll save the details for some other night, but there are some folk who just hate farmers. No matter what you do they see it as some sort of rape of the environment.

It all seemed to conspire in a way that soured my sense of spring. Just as the forsythia has no happy yellow blooms, the next generation sometimes seems like a bunch of soured mothers with soured children. Grumph. Grumph. Grumph. And just then the next reptile gave me a shock, as I brought grass clippings to the garden.

Snake 1 FullSizeRender

It was a harmless and common garter snake, but snakes always make me jump at first. This one slithered into weeds and was being as uncooperative as the snapping turtle, when it came to being photogenic. However I was sick and tired of being patient with others when others are not always patient with me, so I poked it and forced it out into the sun.

Even the above photo seemed pretty dull, and unlikely to attract people to my website, and the snake wouldn’t sit still and be photogenic, and therefore, to make this post more interesting, I stepped on the end of the snake’s tail.

Snake 2 IMG_2965

Much more photogenic! What’s more, I noticed the snake’s tongue darted in and out much more often, when it was trapped. The tongues of snakes dart so quickly I’ve never gotten a good picture of one with its tongue out, but this seemed my chance.  I nearly exhausted my cell phone, but finally\ managed to catch this shot.

Snake 3 FullSizeRender

I was so pleased with the picture that I smugly decided there was a slight likelihood that the photo could go viral, and appear all over the web as an illustration for various blogs. But was the snake grateful for the possibility of fame?

Snake 4 FullSizeRender

Talk about unappreciative! But that’s how things have been going, this spring. You get no flowers. But I decided that, if the stupid snake didn’t want to be famous, he could go crawl about on his belly for all I cared. I would go see if the snapping turtle was more interested.

The snapping turtle had vanished. Furthermore, she left me no eggs. Apparently she only hunkered down in the leaves because she doesn’t like pictures, and deemed me the paparazzi. The nerve! Who does she think she is? Some Hollywood star?

As I rolled my eyes to heaven I noticed something. A branch of high-bush blueberry was loaded with blooms. Rather than finishing the lawn I investigated further into the brush. It was amazing, for every blueberry bush was covered with more blooms than I’d ever seen before.

Blueberries 1 IMG_2981

So maybe I did get some flowers after all. I just had to look for them.

Not that I expect any berries. This is likely just the Creator’s way of making up for the fact there will be few black cherries this year. Once birds realize there are few cherries, every bird in town will be chowing down in by blueberry patch.

My brief elation over blooms gave way to a gloom over an imagined lack of berries, and I trudged back to finish mowing the lawn.

That might make a good end to this post, but there was more, for the wind was picking up, purple clouds came hurrying over, and by the time I finished the lawn the gusts were chilly, and a driving mist was hinting at April. I rushed home to check the weather radar on my computer, and could see a cold front was ramming through, and that May snows were falling back in the Great Lakes, behind the front.

The way this spring has been going, the blueberry blooms will also get burned by frost, and they’ll wind up being worse than “for the birds”. They will be blasted, and there will be no berries for the birds. It will be, in the end, a sullen spring, a spring without flowers.

As I sat slumped at the computer, thinking how sad it is this spring gives me no bouquets, my wife, (who does not like it when I hurry to the computer to hunch over a radar screen without even saying “hello”), asked me if I’d completed a particular chore. Fortunately I had actually done it, though how I found the time only God knows. After all, as my faithful readers know, when I mow a lawn it involves a lot more than cutting the grass. It involves turtles. It involves snakes. It involves mulching the garden. It involves the blueberry crop, and the well-being of birds. It involves scanning the sky for frost in May. It involves important stuff, significant stuff,  like Global Warming. It involves the price of eggs in Africa.

Some days I envy robots. When they mow the grass, that is all they do. Some days I take my gloom a step farther, and think my wife would be happier with a robot. My daughters are not. They insist on bringing boys home that make even me look sensible. These young men do know about snapping turtles, but only because apparently there is a snapping turtle in some video game. Many do not know how to mow a non-virtual lawn.

The last video game I played was called “centipede”, a quarter century ago. Since then I’ve been too busy in the non-virtual reality to even watch ordinary TV shows. The only reason I go on-line is to study meteorology. The only reason I am involved in politics is because “Global Warming” dragged me into it, when all I originally wanted to do was avoid talking about unsafe stuff like religion and politics, and talk about “safe” stuff like the weather.

Be that as it may, I am now neck deep in serious stuff, significant stuff,  involving the hot topic of Global Warming. So far there is no reward. It is the epitome of a spring without flowers. In fact it is proof gloom is wise. To delve into the internet in this respect makes me live in a sort of basement.

Gloom IMG_2909

There is no forsythia in the above picture.  No happy spring. I can search the web all I want and my wisdom just gets darker. The politics of Global Warming isn’t warm, and proves cold-blooded reptiles rule, almost.

Almost, but not quite, due to an occupational hazard you face, if you run a Childcare. When you deal with children you may be older and wiser, and understand the logic of reptiles, but children know something reptiles don’t, and can be forsythia even when forsythia can’t.Gloom 2 IMG_2920

You can have been working a solid week to nurse a good gloom into life, but then a child will ruin it in five seconds. So I guess I’ll be gloomy about that.

I am bemused by my self, and conclude
I was made on a day the Creator
Mixed up pots of stuff that held nothing rude
And made good men, but when done, still had more.
In the artist pot, there was not enough
To make one; in the engineer pot,
Not enough; and so on, but such stuff
Should not be wasted, and so He took the lot
And mixed all together, curious
About what the mix might turn out to be.
I think that I ought to be furious
For the mix that he made turned out to be me.
I’m a Jack-of-all-trades who can do nothing well,
But if you make the Lord smile, you won’t go to hell.

ALWAYS FEED YOUR CAMEL

Image

Camel startles child HAPPY

(I haven’t been able to find out who originally took this marvelous picture, in my searching of the web. They deserve credit. The timing is perfect. If anyone discovers who the original photographer was, please tell us in the comments below.)

(Apparently the photograph is from Mongolia. I bungled across the picture while researching the gloomy subject of the current Dzud in Mongolia, and it sure helped fight off my gloom.)

Sometimes intellectual arguments cannot reach us in the manner the above picture can. It is not that a picture is worth a thousand words; it is that no amount of words can persuade us to budge from a particular intellectual stance, for it not a matter of the head but of the heart. The word that describes being budged in this manner is “touched.” Our heart must be “touched”. The funny thing is that “touched” can mean “produce feelings of affection, gratitude, or sympathy in”, but (because it is beyond the intellect) it can also mean “slightly insane”.

My Dad had every reason to scowl
At the sun, but I was just a teen
And full of good advice. As round-eyed as an owl
I’d tell him that life was nice, for I’d seen
Sunny things. He’d then scowl at his son
But have to laugh. I’m not sure why. He’d say,
“A little bit of God is in everyone”,
And leave it at that, leaving me to pray
That I might understand how such a bitter
Man could beam, and be so spiritual,
Before I spoke my sermon. The glitter
I called proofs became strangely dull,
As the Dad who had been dark grew brighter.
My youth, and not my mind, was the enlighter.