LOCAL VIEW –Hurricane Heights Demonstrated–

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Last week I talked about the old captains of coastal schooners, and the way they studied the sky for signs of “Hurricane Heights”.

Before railways were built in the mid 1800’s the main way to ship things was by boat, (which is why we speak of “shipping” things, even when we use trucks.) New York City was so big and growing so fast it had an insatiable appetite for lumber, and not all could be supplied by barging it down the Hudson River. Good money could be made “schooning” lumber down from Maine, but, before the Cape Cod Canal was built in 1914 (and widened to its current size 1935-1940)  the route south was nearly 150 miles longer, and involved going outside Cape Cod, which was that much closer to the hurricanes people on shore hardly noticed because they had “gone out to sea.” Even when the hurricanes’s winds were to the east huge waves traveled outwards, and when they reached the shoals off the elbow of Cape Cod they could turn waters a ship could ordinarily navigate over into a landscape of breaking waves, huge combers far from a beach,  with troughs so deep a keel could hit sand. Therefore a wise captain kept “an eye to the sky”.

This was done in a manner we can’t imagine. If we tried to force ourselves to study the sky we would soon start to fidget. Our minds would wander, and before long we’d get up and go to see what was happening elsewhere. However the old captains were stuck at the tiller or helm, and couldn’t go anywhere any faster than the boat was going. They studied the sky for hours upon hours.

One thing was very important to know, and that was whether the wind was going to back or veer. This was especially important when heading upwind. Without engines a ship had to tack to and fro, and (for example) a north-bound ship’s course could be made shorter if you knew beforehand whether the the headwind was going to shift to the northeast (veer) or to the northwest (back).

A rough idea where the nearest storm was located was to face the wind and stick out your right arm and point. You were pointing at the storm. But what direction was it moving? To guess at that you would look up at the high clouds, which moved with upper air winds that “steered” the storms. Then, by having a rough idea of whether the storm was approaching or departing or moving parallel to the ship, the captain would have a rough idea whether the winds would pick up or die down, and how they might back or veer.  On dull days this merely shortened the route and number of tacks necessary, and on more exciting voyages it might be the difference between successfully reaching safe haven, or shipwreck and death.

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Few would bother study the sky to this degree now. What would be the point? Now, if a captain wants to go upwind, he just takes down the sails and turns on the engine. There are a lot fewer shipwrecks now, but modern captains are dimwits compared to the captains of yore, when it comes to eyeing the sky with understanding. The need is no longer there to sharpen wits to that degree, and in fact if anyone now spent that much time studying the sky we might call them “obsessive”.

Personally I feel a certain amount of obsession is necessary, if you want to ever be really good at something. One person who seems really good, concerning the understanding and prediction of hurricanes, is Joe Bastardi, and he quite freely confesses he obsessed on weather maps so much when young that he was in some ways a nerd. But it paid off in terms of genius. Some years ago he looked at a tropical depression off the coast of Africa and said, “Houston, we have a problem”, which some say is one of the best long-range forecasts ever made.

Last Monday he said it looked like we could have frontal remnants becoming a storm like Brenda in 1960. I said, “La-la-la! I’m not listening”. Why? Because I want to pretend I’m an old schooner captain, and trying to see signs of storm only using my eyes and a barometer. (Of course I did hear Bastardi, but I can pretend I didn’t.)

Friday the skies were as blue as they get, and the air refreshing and cool, which is a reprieve but also a reason to be on guard.

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The passage of a Canadian high-pressure is often a prelude to trouble brewing to the south. (Bastardi calls high-pressure to the north “A ridge over troubled waters.”[Hat tip, Simon and Garfunkle.]) Not that you want to spoil your summer by worrying every time it’s sunny, but you watch for the return of clouds and the southerly flow behind the high pressure. And sure enough, when I awoke Saturday morning the newspaper had arrived, not on my doorstep, but in the sky straight overhead.

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What would such a newspaper tell an old schooner captain? I see two clues he’d see in the scene below, plus a clue he wouldn’t see.

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First, just over the pines to the lower left is a bit of low cumulus, so low you could almost call it scud.

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Right off the bat, his farsighted eyes squint to determine what direction those low clouds are moving. If they are moving to the right and approaching then the wind is southwest. That would be a benign wind, as the storm would be to the northwest, and likely a summertime Alberta Clipper. At worst, if it was hot and muggy, a Clipper might swing down a cold front and bring thunder,  but the air is still refreshing and the sky is still deep blue and Canadian, so thunder is unlikely. But, because the captain has time to watch the sky, he notes the low clouds are not approaching; they are moving to the right and retreating. The wind is not from the southwest, but from the southeast.

A southeast wind is a whole different kettle of fish. It means a storm is to the southwest. Something may be coming up the coast. A certain wariness awakes. (I should note more than eyes were used by schooner captains. Like a dog (whose morning newspaper may be a fire hydrant) he sniffs the air, as a southwest land breeze has a completely different smell from a southeast sea breeze. He also likely runs his fingers through his hair, for hair tells you a lot about humidity. All his senses are involved; the sea is a sensual experience.)

Lastly he is very aware if the wind is backing or veering, and this southeast wind has veered all the way from the northwest through the northeast . For reasons I don’t understand, this is different from a wind that backs 180 degrees the other way, although it winds up blowing from the same direction.

Then his eyes lift a bit higher to the left, over the cherry tree, to the cirrus (which he would call a “mare’s tail”).

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Cirrus is high clouds snowing into slower wind beneath. To the captain this is more reassuring than cirrocumulus, which is indicative of warmer air aloft and more inclined to be associated with hurricanes. Also the cirrus is still approaching from north of due west, which should “steer” a storm out to sea. However a rumple of concern appears on his brow, for he notices the high cloud’s movement is not as much from the north as it was. Indeed the high clouds are backing, even as the low clouds veer. Knowing nothing of upper air maps,  heedless of upper air ridges or trofs, the wheels in his head start whirring. If the high clouds back, and especially if they back with speed, look out.

However I have one clue he doesn’t.  There were no jets back then, and I can squint at contrails, and spot one over the trees in the center.

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When contrails quickly evaporate behind a jet, it is a sign of descending and drying air aloft, and a sign of fair weather. When, as is the case with the contrail above, the contrail expands into a cloud, as if part of a cloud-seeding experiment, it is a sign of moisture aloft and rising air, and a sign of increasing clouds and approaching storms. (It doesn’t say what kind of storm: Gentle rain or hurricane or the squalls of a thundering front.)

Even without contrails the old schooner captains were likely observing whether high clouds were growing or evaporating. Where modern yachtsmen can set a “self-sailor” and be buried in a book, the skippers of yore would only “lash the helm” when there was a lot of other work to do. They liked the feel of the helm, and likely, by making subtle responses to each passing swell, could shave an hour or two off the length of a cruise.

When I was young I attempted to have spiritual experiences by closing my eyes, sitting cross-legged, and gazing up at the inside of my forehead.  I never lasted very long. Rather than sacred subjects my my mind gravitated towards how divine pizza or a woman’s body was. But at the helm of a sailboat without a self-sailor I was forced to pay attention or the boat might luff or jibe, and paying-attention became a sort of yoga leading to an altered state of consciousness. This divine intoxication is the reason some people are fanatics about sailing, while those who haven’t imbibed the wine cannot see the good of it, or why anyone in their right mind would willingly suffer seasickness.

How many modern people, with their short attention spans and craving for constant stimulation, can sit and watch a cloud as it passes from one side of the sky to the other? The so-called boredom would drive many nuts, and perhaps there is an element of craziness in being at sea. However it has its own constant stimulation, in the rocking of the waves and passing of the swells, the ruffling of sails and the ringing of rigging, the hypnotic slosh and thud and gurgling of waters, and it all combines to enter one into a different dimension, a different relationship with reality, with sea and sky. Call it “obsessive” if you will, but it includes the wisdom of the weather-wise.

Just looking at the clouds I’ve pictured above, the old schooner captains would have known “something was brewing” to the south. Would they have set sail?  Well, that was up to them to decide, and they did know how to handle a moderate storm. All business involves an element called “risk”.

And how do they compare with modern computers? Well, the billion dollar GFS Model never caught onto the coastal development until Saturday morning, right about the time an old captain would have tasted the first hints of a wind-shift to the southeast.

Others models did better, but how is one to chose? Even a single model can have fifty “runs” that all differ. Which one is right?

The answer seems to be obsessive, like Joe Bastardi. In order to be good at anything you need to in some ways over-do it. But Mr. Bastardi does amaze me. Last Monday he said that by Saturday a storm “like Brenda in 1960” could appear on the coast.  He also forecast that the weather bureau likely wouldn’t call it a hurricane, despite tropical characteristics. Then, on Saturday , there it was, looking all the world like a dying hurricane, though it had never officially been a hurricane and therefore could not officially be a dying one.

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The weather bureau can bicker all it wants about whether things are “official”. I think they may be jealous if Joe’s ability, even to the mean level of not calling an event “tropical” because to do so might make Joe look better than they. But we are not suppose to become irrational, and envy is irrational. The simple fact of the matter is that Mr. Bastardi kicked their butts. And, when faced with superiority, the smart thing to do is sit at the feet of the master, and inquire, “How the heck did you do it?”

Let’s face it: If you had plans on the water off the coast of New Jersey or Long Island on Saturday, wouldn’t you like a heads-up that storm-force gusts like the feeder-bands of a hurricane could be coming north?

 

 

A final clue that this storm was “tropical” was shown by how quickly it is weakened once it cut inland.

What are we to conclude from all this? Perhaps we should conclude this: The next time we are called “obsessive”, we should respond, “Thank you very much.”

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LOCAL VIEW —APRIL SLEET—

There is nothing like being stuck indoors, doing your taxes, to make absolutely everything else seem preferable. Even the rotten weather has a romantic allure, as if I can faintly sniff distant seaweed on the raw east winds. Of course, that is humbug, but it is a good humbug.

The warm air is stuck to our south. It hasn’t made much progress since this morning. (Click maps, or open to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)

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The cold high pressure up over Quebec does not want to budge, and low pressure is shunted out to sea south of us, without a warm sector coming up our way. In fact we get east winds off the cold Atlantic, or even northeast winds from up in Labrador, where the coldest air lurks, below zero even in April. (Below -17.8° Celsius).  We sure don’t want that  stuff coming south.

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This morning you could watch the rain try to come north, but change to snow as it neared us.

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During the day the high sun had such power that even through the overcast it kept the swirling snow and sleet from sticking, however now night has fallen, and the sleet has a power it lacked before.

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It’s hard to focus on taxes when the sleet is tapping at my window, evoking memories of other Aprils, when the yearning for spring wrestled with the final fits of winter. In some ways it is a season unto itself, a sort of false spring, but a false winter as well. It is something you expect, this far north.

In 1990, just before I met my wife, we had temperatures at the start of April up over 90° (32.2° Celsius), and my customers were consumed by a sort of panic about being “behind”, in terms of spring gardening. I remember telling one very sweet old lady it likely would be sleeting in a week, and she shouldn’t plant her tomatoes, but she insisted, and the customer is always correct. Then, around a week later, I was out working in her garden in a bone-chilling rain, which turned to sleet. She called me in, and served me a lovely bowl of hot soup at a table in a glassed-in porch, and as she plunked the bowl in front of me her old, blue eyes looked out over the forlorn scene, and she spoke the three simple words, “You were right.”

In 1973 my teenager-years had just ended, and my gardener’s job was to trudge out into sleet and rain to trim back a rose garden that had gone amazingly out of control, in a widow’s back yard. Her husband had loved roses, but after he died the garden had turned into a savage wilderness of wicked thorns so towering and thick you half expected to find a castle holding Sleeping Beauty in the midst. It took me a week to cut it all back to a semblance of control. When I remarked to the widow I had never seen roses so vigorous, she simply smiled and said, “My husband loved those roses so much he asked that his ashes be spread among their roots. I guess he is part of the plants by now.”

That is a northern April. It is a splicing of two incongruous ropes, Death and Rebirth.

 I hear you tapping at my window,
Silver April Sleet, laughing as wind’s blow
A shudder down the street, and things don’t grow,
As you pepper buds with patters, for you know
What matters, and what shatters the blunt-willed
Farmer slogging in big boots, and makes song birds
Slouch silent on wet twigs, so disgruntled
They won’t peep. I hear you tap, but what’s heard’s
A song sweeter than waxed ears hear. You cast pearls
Of silver-grey over a drab landscape,
Singing songs so unlike snow’s that, though wind hurls
Needles in my face, I find escape.
When you cast your pearls, it is not to swine,
For April has ears that can hear the Divine.

LOCAL VIEW —Craving Spring—

I’m up late, boiling maple sap on the porch, and feeling the chill creep in at the edges of the house, as the temperature is down to 25° ( -3.9° Celsius).  To be honest, it doesn’t feel much like April at the moment. Yet another in a seemingly endless series of arctic high pressures has sunk south over us, getting in the way of balmy Chinook winds that make places like Montana warmer than New Hampshire. (Click map to clarify and enlarge.)

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Looking at the above map, it looks all the world like the high pressure will move east and some nice, south winds will move over us, from the west. However I’m skeptical, due to seeing such golden promises before, and seeing that all that gets to us is a brief patch of mild rain, or even an occlusion, with all the mildness aloft, and things down where I live cold, gray, and clammy.

I’m not all that grouchy about how things have turned out, for we have been through a sort of drought, and the deep snow cover has slowly but steadily shrunk, without the floods you might expect. At the start of March we had towering snowbanks and four feet of snow on the level, and if you had offered me even money on a bet that we would get through the entire month of March without a major snowstorm or, worse, rainstorm, I would have taken the bet, and would have lost.

In essence winter had us up against the ropes, and could have slugged us to tweet-tweet; look-at-the-birdie-land with even a modest nor’easter. However somewhere someone must have prayed a good prayer. You don’t see it too often in boxing matches, but dropping to your knees and praying for mercy when you are up against the ropes is apparently a good strategy, providing you remember to jump back to you feet before the referee counts to ten.

In any case, we’ve made it to April. I walked out into the garden today to measure how deep the snow is, and it is less than a foot now, in places.  However it is “corn snow”, which is granular crystals of ice which, if you measured them, each would be a cube with sides of an eighth of an inch, or a little more. It is dense stuff, and needs some nice days with temperatures up in the seventies ( above 21° Celsius ) to get rid of it. We are having trouble getting up to fifty (10° Celsius).

This is exasperating to me, as a farmer. In the Spring of 2012 I already had my peas, spinach, lettuce, onions and Potatoes planted.  This April it is so cold that tonight even the maple sap will stop rising. (This is actually a good thing, if you are a farmer who supplements his income with maple syrup sales, but even these cold nights will not salvage this season for many. It has been so cold the season was very late to start, and the bright sun will convince trees to bud out even if temperatures stay cold, so many farms will only produce half as much syrup as last year.)

The landscape is still snowcovered, and the buds on trees haven’t even started to swell. When it does warm, what I am faced with is having to plant in a hurry. It looks like we will move from Winter to Summer with very little Spring. Rather than just sitting back and relaxing, I need to hustle and start flats of seedlings indoors, and then, when the snow finally is gone, to transplant like crazy.

For example, it takes lettuce roughly ten days between the day you plant it and the day you see the first tiny green plant. I can’t sit around waiting for the soil to thaw. Why not?  Because as soon as the weather gets hot, lettuce “bolts”, which means it turns, sometimes in only 48 hours, from nice leafy stuff you would want in your salad into a flower stalk that is amazingly bitter. Conclusion? If I wait for the soil to thaw, by the time ten days pass and the lettuce sprouts, the prime cool-weather lettuce-growing weather will be swiftly passing, however, if I plant little lettuce seedlings as soon as the soil thaws, the lettuce will be thriving during those same ten days, and I’ll have fat heads of lettuce to sell, and will get rich and drive about in a Cadillac.

Or maybe not. However this does give you a hint of the fact farmers cannot hide from Truth. The weather is what it is. Climate Scientists may be able to “adjust” and “homogenize” temperatures to get the results they want, but farmers face a Truth that can’t be fiddled with.

One time, when I was attempting to explain this Truth to a very secular person I deeply respect, he became exasperated, as if I was merely an idealistic airhead without any foundation in reality, and he told me, “You haven’t a clue how politics operates.”

Hmm. Perhaps I know all too well how far politics has drifted from Truth.

Politics over-focuses on power, with the mentality of a schoolyard bully, who has no idea it is better to be friends with people than to dominate with fear.

As a sort of proof, I ask you this: When you think of the word “power”, do you associate it it with the word “friend”, or the word “fear”?

Most of modern politics is scare-tactics. “Global Warming” is all about fear, and has little to do with love, trust, and friendship.

Truth, on the other hand, turns out to be closely associated to a thing called “Love.”

The proof is in the pudding. The farmer who attends to Truth has a garden that blooms, while the politician that fosters falsehood can only heap hate upon hate.

Eventually they have to throttle the voices of Truth, as is now occurring on “Twitter” where Steave Goddard and others are banned from stating the Truth about the “Global Warming” dogma.

I really don’t have time for this trivia, which Politicians think is so Big. Maybe if I was young and loaded with hormones I could get suckered into a fight with fat fools, but I’m old and it takes a bit more than moronic behavior to rouse the dying embers of my old fire. As far as I’m concerned, lettuce seedlings are more worthy of attention than a doomed president. However occasionally some nitwit provokes the gray ashes of my dying fire to a shower of sparks, as occurred when I read,

“I have read somewhere only one in two hundred is actually a leader, and to control a group all that is needed is to identify and break that leader.”

I had to respond, and my response was,

“The fallacy in this thought is that it fails to recognize the true power, behind the scenes, is Truth. For example, the boiling point of water doesn’t care who wins an election; it is what it is.

Over and over people are so seduced by the attractiveness of power that they resort to falsehood to grasp it. One way or another, they justify their wrongdoing, promising tomorrow to repay for today’s ripoff, making a mantra of “the ends justify the means”.

Then over and over you see such powerful people slowly rot, (often from the inside out), as their facade of well-being is slowly corroded by Truth. In the end Truth trumps all the cleverness of power politics, and even kings come to understand they are powerless before it. Maybe it isn’t as obvious as Nebuchadnezzar going mad for seven years, but it is a reality.

Perhaps it is due to something as simple as the fact that studying Truth leads to wisdom, while studying falsehood leads to ignorance, and ignorant people do ignorant stuff that, in the end, ruins them.”

Within those words is some poetry, and other artsy stuff, including the stuff that grows real lettuce. However politicians are interested in false lettuce (IE: the green leaves of dollar bills). Politicians are not interested in the cream, atop the milk of my life. What they are snorting after is my feces, the byproduct of my life.

If I seem bitter, it is because rather than writing poetry, I have to do my taxes.  I have to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”.  (The Bible politely calls this “filthy lucre”, but a truer translation is “feces”.)

Don’t get get me wrong. As a farmer I value feces. We call it “manure” and also “brown gold.” We understand it is not to be hoarded, and is best used to fertilize the fields. To be a miser of manure makes no sense. The sooner you can get rid of it and mix it into your garden, the lusher the lettuce crop will be.

If politicians and the IRS merely wanted to gather a huge pile of manure, deeming it the source of political power, it would be demented, but at least they might promise to dole it out to the actual gardeners who actually grow stuff. They would be like mothers who are more interested in collecting milk than in nursing their babes. However the madness of political correctness and “smart politics” has gone beyond even this.

It has even gone beyond the rare situation that dairy farmers occasionally see, wherein a mother cow or goat sucks her own teat for nourishment.

Things have gotten so out of hand that the current crop of politically correct politicians are not merely hoarding a huge heap of feces. They have actually started to eat the stuff.

As much as I resent the lack of appreciation the government displays towards poet-citizens like me, as they demand more and more of me, I sort of like the fact that, as their taxes take the byproduct of my hard work, they are eating my shit.

LOCAL VIEW —Pneumonia; a writer’s ruin—

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I doubt anyone wants much to hear about my ten days with walking pneumonia, however therein lies the challenge:  A good writer can make anything interesting.

One interesting thing about pneumonia is that it makes interesting things dull.  Oxygen is darned important stuff. Little tanks of oxygen should be attached to the back of math books, with nozzles that spray into students’s faces. I, for one, might have found the classes more interesting. Many have told me that Math is actually an interesting subject, and all I can reply is that they obviously were getting more oxygen than I was.

The past ten days have been like a prolonged Math class. I kept waiting for the bell to ring, so I could rush out and escape the room and see life begin again. In fact I tried to keep myself going at the start, as often it seems to do more harm to give in to a cold, than to dress very warmly, eat very well, drink only one drink, sweat a lot, and sleep more than usual. Healthy work usually cures a cold, but not this time.

I felt very uneasy when I noticed lots of other old geezers my age were going down like dominoes,  and spending time in bed. Usually our immune systems have been exposed to so many bugs over the decades we can man the ship as the youth go down, but not this time. I’d bound from bed in the morning thinking, “I must be better by now,” but found I was weak as a kitten and slow as molasses and had a headache and feverish feeling starting in the middle of the morning, and by afternoon my temperature would be above a hundred. My IQ was well below that.

Finally I broke down and spent some time in bed. Antibiotics were not clearing my lungs, and proved my local doctor was quite correct when he told me the chest-cold afflicting the town was likely viral and not bacterial. I take viral pneumonia seriously, ever since it swiftly did in the creator of the Muppet’s.  (They’ve never been as good, ever since.)

It is very annoying to be stuck in bed when your IQ is greatly reduced and absolutely everything seems uninteresting. My main occupation was hacking up phlegm, and when I felt particularly congested I’d dress up like it was minus-forty when it actually was thawing, and go out to split some wood for the fire, as exercise seems to clear roughly a pound of phlegm from my system. Then I’d have a deep drink of water and crawl shuddering back to bed.

My dull mind got to thinking, as my fever spiked, about the expression “British Phlegm.”  I’d always thought it was a rather cool trait, (for example, when they arrive home and see ten firetrucks and the entire block ablaze and their home burning from cellar to attic, they calmly say something such as, “I must remember not to make the fire insurance payment for the next quarter, next week.”) Now it seemed a sort of insulting expression, equating the English with mucus.

Ordinarily I’d hop on that idea like a chicken on a worm, but a speedy response was too much like work, so I took a nap before I looked up the word “phlegmatic.”  I was informed it meant, “Having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional or apathetic.” 

That described me to the T,  and, after another nap and a couple aspirin,  I discovered “phlegm” was one of the four “humors” that, according to ancient medicine, governed human health, vitality, intelligence and personality.

That also made sense, because when you can’t breathe and aren’t getting enough oxygen you do develop a sort of calm. There had been several occasions for sarcasm that I completely missed, after I got congested.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know sarcasm was suited for the situation; I simply couldn’t think of any.

However when I traced the roots of the word back to the roots in ancient Greek I became very tired. The root was from, phlegein, “to burn.” How could a bright fire come to mean a dullness? The aspirin was wearing off and I felt sweaty and very tired, so I took another nap. 

When I awoke I bounded from bed, certain I was better, but after around five false starts I crawled back into bed to reconsider the subject of phlegm.

It turns out the word “Phlegm” has even more ancient roots in the “Common Tongue” of ancient Europe, Indo-European.  The ancient word was “Bhel” and it basically meant extremely bright and white. It gave birth to some words that seem logical, such as “blaze”, “blanch”, “blush”, “beluga” and “blitzkrieg”.  However the word “blind” takes some thinking, as it seems the opposite of white, though of course white light can be blinding. Things get downright difficult to comprehend when you consider the fact :”Bhel” was also the root of words like “bleak” and “black.”

It was too much for my diminished IQ, so I took another nap. Awakening after midnight drenched in sweat, I decided a fever was good for dull wits, as you get some strange thinking sprinkled in. It made perfect sense to me that a bright blaze could make black charcoal, so the words blaze and black could be related. After an aspirin it stopped making so much sense, and I could only guess that some ancient suffix was involved, in the way we can use a suffix to turn “sun” into “sunless.”

I was wide awake in the dead of night, as I had slept so much during the day, so I thought I might compose a blog entry. I couldn’t even think of a first sentence. Weather maps made no sense. Instead I just wandered, and eventually got back to the subject of phlegm.

I’d wandered back to ancient India, which oddly has some words that are the same in Ireland. Perhaps there was some sort of pre-Tower-of-Babel civilization, some golden age more civil than we can imagine, that allowed a common tongue to be shared. But I’ll leave that for people with higher IQs and lower temperatures.

Back in the time of the Sanskrit scholars they may not have known of oxygen or oxygen tanks, but they did know air was necessary for fire, and for life. Air was “Vayu” and life was “Prana”, and they were so deeply interconnected it was impossible to separate them.

This made perfect sense to me in the dead of night. When you have pneumonia it is very obvious air is connected to life. I don’t need to sit cross-legged, and to learn how to breathe out of alternate nostrils, to know that.  I’ve seen it, been humbled by it, and am sick of it.

However I came across one ancient tale that tickled me. It involved a situation where all the various Hindu gods (with a small “G”) wondered who was most important to humans. So, each in turn, withdrew from humanity, (or one particular Job-like human,) to see how he’d fare.

[Don’t get me wrong. I believe there is only one God (with a capital “G”) and it irks me when Christians get too compartmentalized with Father-Son-Spirit, or distracted by Saints and the Virgin Mary. However it also irks me when psuedo-scientists miss all the wonder of clouds and sky and wind, thinking they can reduce it to jostling molecules of Nitrogen and Oxygen and H2O and some trace gases. Only when such scientists get old does their wonder return, and do they confess that even after a lifetime of study of something such as the AMO, they have barely scratched the surface. They are on the verge, in their wonder, of giving the AMO the status of a god (with a small “g”) for the AMO is beyond human understanding and control. Yet these same scientists, when they were young, called the ancients “quaint” when they called a breeze a sort of little angel or small god, called a “zephyr”.]

However the Sanskrit scholars of ancient times take the cake, when it comes to giving various powers of nature god-status, and picturing them as beings with wills of their own. (Where we speak of our “mind”, they have a god with a bull elephant head, prone to occasional fits rut-madness.)

In any case, all these gods began withdrawing their influence from man, and man suffered but survived, until it was the turn of the god of air.  He only started to stand up, and not only did man reel, but so did all the other gods. All the other gods then conceded that (not including God with a capital “G”), the god of air was most important.

Without Vayu there is no Prana. Pneumonia makes this disgustingly apparent. All your study, all your learning, all your projects, are put on hold.  At first you say, “when I get better” work will resume. Then, when five days sees you not better but worse, you start to say “if I get better.”

That word “when” takes too much for granted, and when it is replaced by “if” a writer is reduced to the proper point of humbleness. After all, it is an amazingly arrogant profession, (if you ever bother to think about it), and can use some cutting down to size.  It is important to remember you can’t even begin, without the mercy of a healing Creator.

Which leads me to a final mystery. Considering breathing and air is so important to the production of clearly articulated thoughts, while are so many young writers chain smokers?

I curse what that habit did to my lungs, but glad to say I feel better today, and able to make even pneumonia interesting.

 

 

LOCAL VIEW —A Spring Unseen—

It is somewhat amazing to me to think back two springs, to March 2013, and to realize the soil had not merely thawed, but dried enough to allow me to plant peas at this time. Now I look out across a garden that could well be a landscape at the Pole, except for the few objects that poke up.

2013 was an unusually early spring, and (as I recall) it later got colder, and I couldn’t be in such a hurry to plant the more tender crops, such as tomatoes or squash. However peas are tough, and several times I’ve planted them even as snow swirled. (One of these years I’m going to try out planting them in the fall, to see if they notice the difference.) Planting peas tends to result in red, chapped and raw hands, but there is a joy in being able to get the planting started. There is also a wonderful moderation of ambition, the next morning, when muscles ache. Some of the more grandiose plans for giant gardens become more modest, once muscles are allowed to voice their views.

This spring there has been little of that moderation, so far, and my middle son, eldest daughter and wife are coming up with some gardening ideas that make my head spin a little. I blame the snow, which still stretches over the garden like a blank sheet of paper.

A blank sheet of paper holds the promise of great things; poetry to rival Shakespeare. It’s when you start to write, and the paper isn’t pure white any more,  that you see less great things.

Of course, I’m just an old geezer who has less ambition than I had when younger, especially as I’m struggling to get over a nasty cold that sunk down into my lungs and had me wondering if this might be the spring I won’t see. It is likely best if I keep my mouth shut about a lot of the ambitions others have, because there is nothing worse than a wet blanket who smothers others fire.

Anyway, when I look back over my life a lot of the fun was due to attempting things that failed. Afterwards not everyone points at you and laughs, “Loser! HAHAHAHA!” There are a few who quietly tell you. “At least you had the guts to try.”

The snow is shrinking, as we’ve been in a sort of drought this March. Usually a late spring is due to late snows, and a final pool of arctic air that swings down over New England. I recall one year we had a January so mild people were saying it proved Global Warming was occurring, and then the first week in April was colder than any week in January that year. However this spring we haven’t had a late storm (so far) and in fact the snow has been steadily shrinking under the power of the March sun. We’ve had amazingly cold blasts of arctic air, but the sun keeps shrinking the snow even when it is below freezing. However the snow was so deep to begin with that even though three feet are gone, we still have a foot.

It is a solid foot, too. When the snow was four feet deep is was all fluffy powder, and even snowshoes sank nearly a foot. Snowmobiles tended to bog down if the driver ever slowed. However now the snow is crunchy stuff I can walk across without sinking.

The first day we could walk on the snow the kids at the Childcare were euphoric. For over a month they had been limited, but now they could suddenly run free. My dog had a similar attitude, dashing about in obvious delight, freed from weeks of plunging and wallowing through the deep, white powder.

I have the urge to go on a long hike in the woods, crunching over the snow.  I’m going to keep my eyes open for signs of how the animals fared. I’m fairly certain the coyote didn’t fare well. They’d have to go around a month without food, at sub-zero temperatures. There’s no way they could hunt in snow so deep. The foxes also likely suffered. The deer basically live off their body fat, and twigs, and from what I hear they are gaunt but alive. Coyote and foxes can’t live on twigs, however. Perhaps they are the ones who won’t see the spring.

It was down around 10° (-12.2° Celsius) both yesterday morning and this morning, but now a milder spell is due, before the next arctic blast comes down over the weekend.

Even if it only lasts a day, mildness feels like pure ambrosia, this year.

I asked the little children if they’d like a storm with sticky snow, so they could make snowmen, if the snow would all melt away in a day, and they all agreed it was a bad idea, and that they were sick to death of snow. It is time to barbecue.

Barbacue snowman screenhunter_8054-mar-21-13-39

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CORRECTION:  The spring I was recalling was actually March, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL VIEW —Boston Sets Snowfall Record—“An Inconvenient Winter”

We got around an inch of snow up here yesterday. The first half inch was glop, a sort of wet layer that melted as fast as it fell, and then nearly as fast as it fell, as the vibrant March sun dropped lower, and stopped the amazing job it does of melting snow even when it is behind clouds. Then the sun got to the horizon and we had a flash freeze, so the second half inch was powder drifting over a layer of frozen crust.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I heard my wife heading out for her predawn-twilight power-walk. Her footsteps crunched a certain way on the drive, and I swung out of bed in a sort of angry thrash, as I knew I had to start work an hour earlier, heading to the “Town Garage” to shovel sand into the back of my pickup, and then heading to my Farm-Childcare to cast that sand around the entrance of the parking lot, and the area where parents disembark with their children, and the front walk, and lastly the rise where cars exit and young mothers tend to spin wheels and get stuck. Who needs Monday to start an hour earlier?

All was redeemed, however, when I learned Boston got 2.9 inches of snow where we only got an inch. That bumps their winter’s total past the most snow ever recorded (in recent times) of 107 inches in 1993, to 108 inches. This is all the more amazing because Boston was below the normal snowfall of January 10 on January 10.

It makes me look rather good, for I was talking about this being “the worst winter ever” back in November.  Not that there haven’t been worse winter’s up here in these hills, or even in Boston. Back in in the 1600’s, when the Back Bay neighborhood was actually a bay, the bay was frozen over for six weeks, and there were 26 “snowfalls.”  However nothing matches 1717, when the snows were so deep that some houses were buried and could only be located by holes in the snow,  with smoke coming out, melted by the chimney and the constant fire that heated the home.

http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/history/oral/cram/blizzard1717.htm

It does seem sort of anticlimactic to beat the record with only 2.9 inches of snow. Not that it isn’t too late to have a final massive storm. The blizzard of 1888 began on March 11 and ended on March 15, and we got four feet in these hills, (as Boston got two inches of slush.) The “April Fools Storm” a few years back gave us two feet.

The good thing about setting a record is that it justifies a sensation many around here have that they have been through a mugging. People not all that far to the south roll their eyes and act as New Englanders are sissies, fussing about a minor inconvenience. Not that people did fuss all that much.  Come to think of it, the tougher New Englanders don’t even fuss when they get mugged.

I remember an old man who ran a tiny four-lane-bowling-alley in Portland, Maine, back in around 1975. You got to it by descending a stair in a dark alley, and it was a subterranean affair, with everything a bit mildewed, and the balls old and slightly bumpy as they rolled, but the old man was a genius when it came to candle-pin bowling, and also he had the cheapest rates in Maine. I was interested in the sport back then, and picked his brains, and besides learning how to curve the balls around the fallen “wood”, I got bits of his philosophy, such as, “Never bowl without a sponsor and never sponsor a bowler.” Often I was the only person bowling, and I doubt he even could pay his electricity bill with his gross take, and concluded he only ran the place because he loved bowling, but one time I went in to discover he’d been mugged for the small amount of money he had. He had two black eyes, and a scab on his forehead. When I expressed my concern he dismissed it, muttering, “Arrh, it was just kids. An inconvenience.”

In any case, I guess we can call it an Inconvenient Winter. It is especially inconvenient to Al Gore, who through “Inconvenient Truth” and lecture tours assured us snow would become rare and our ski areas would need to close down.

Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when Al Gore used his political power to start up the Global Warming fraud, cutting off funding to Bill Gray (whose predictions based on the cycles of the AMO have proven wonderfully accurate) and pouring money onto James Hansen, (whose forecasts have proven to be balderdash), you actually could graph the snowfall in Boston and create a “trend line” that demonstrated that snowfall was decreasing. If you look at the graph below as far as 1992, the “trend” is definitely down.

Of course 1993 changed all that. In fact, in terms of snowfall since 1890, six of the nine greatest yearly totals have occurred since Al Gore opened his big mouth and stated we’d have to shut down our ski areas.

Inconvenient Winter Screen_shot_2015_03_15_at_8_13_11_PM

(Graph from Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog at the Weatherbell site.”)

If anyone has been mugged by this winter, it the Alarmists who are attempting to sell Global Warming. However they are not stoic about being mugged, like a tough New Englander. Rather they become increasingly shrill, shrieking the heavy snow proves it is warmer.

Mann Tweet screenhunter_7071-feb-11-22-19

People in New England tend to be suckers for liberal causes. Freeing slaves seemed like an altruistic deed, and every town in New England has a monument in its graveyard commemorating the astounding number of young men who died for that cause. However the Global Warming cause is starting to be harder and harder to swallow, even for New Englanders, because right after Michael Mann spoke of waters off Cape Cod being 21 degrees above normal (utterly false) they saw waters looking like this:

Cape Cod iceberg2

Maybe even in New England it will turn out that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. After all, Abraham Lincoln stated that, and people voted for him in New England. Perhaps the political winter we are finding inconvenient will give way to a spring.

In the mean time, we have to endure a bit more winter. Today we saw the bright March sun melt away the crust of snow, but later tomorrow the cold will fight back, and the rains advancing from the west likely will change to more snows as they move over us.

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LOCAL VIEW —Waiting for Grrr-Blow—(updated twice)

After our first thaw in weeks, (perhaps in over a month), up in these hills in southern New Hampshire, the cold air has come pressing slowly back south. In fact even as our thaw came in on Wednesday, the wind was already shifting around to the north side of west. The air was Chinook air, greatly moderated by passing over an entire continent of snow. It wasn’t the tropical stuff that makes a snow-eater fog drift over cold snow, but was rather dry, and both maps and radar showed we were on the north side of a boundary between continental warmth and polar coolness, with the arctic upstream and waiting in the wings.

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It was just mild enough to allow the snow-shedding roof at the Farm-childcare to actually shed snow, for the first time all winter.

I never was fully aware of how such roofs require a thin film of water to exist between the roof and the snow, in order to shed the snow. Or I never was aware until this winter. This winter it was so cold (and the insulation of the building is so excellent) that no such ultra-slippery slickness ever developed between snow and roof, so the snow just sat up there. Fortunately the winds blew some of the snow off the upper roofs, but unfortunately it packed the rest into over a foot of layered, packed powder. Because the structure was originally a barn, it has a barn’s roof, with a shallow slope at the peak, becoming a steep slope halfway towards the eves. The steep-slope has shed its snow, but the shallow-slope retained an ominous load of snow. I had to become a grouch and meany, and forbid the little children to play next to the building, (which they like to do as it is warmest next to the south-facing wall),  because I was concerned they might be hit by a heavy weight of accumulated snow, if the roof ever got around to doing its job. This concern was only increased when the local newspaper reported that a man the next town over was buried and trapped for two hours by his snow-shedding roof, before someone heard him yelling for help.

In conclusion, the snow-shedding roof was a failure, this year. It is suppose to spare me the bother of shoveling off roofs in snowy winters, but I had to shovel the lower roofs of the entry ways and porches, where the wind heaped snow rather than blowing it away. Also the snow got so deep up there that a second story outlet for a propane heater was blocked, the heater shut down, and despite excellent insulation pipes froze. Lastly, when the snow finally did come down yesterday, it fell with a sound like soft thunder, and packed into a substance like stiffening concrete, and blocked emergency exits with four feet of snow. I was not pleased, as I faced clearing paths to the exits.

At least I don’t have to worry about the roof collapsing any more. (The stable for the goats has required some roof-raking, as it has old fashioned shingles.)

There have been some roof-collapses in the area, or “partial collapses”, (whatever that is). This is a big worry for high schools, which tend to have flat roofs. This is also a big boon for roofers, who tend to be out of work this time of year. However they don’t work cheaply. A degree of danger is involved, as well as discomfort when the temperature is below zero, and a guy shoveling a roof will get $50.00 an hour. When twenty men are shoveling the roof of a high school, you are talking a thousand dollars an hour, and then there is the cost modern hoists and lifts and front-end-loaders and cherry-pickers. At a school not far north of here the taxpayers were informed by a contractor that to have their school’s roofs cleared of four feet of snow would cost $60,000.

The response of the local taxpayers was a rebellion. A large number of taxpayers showed up first thing Saturday morning and, with surprising speed, they cleared off all the roofs. They had to work fast, because if the School’s insurance company found out they would have forbidden such volunteerism.  However, if the insurance company found out it was too late; they faced a “fait acompli”.  (This is not to say some adjuster could be all bent out of shape, and, to display his petty power, cancel the town’s insurance, however such people gain a reputation for being a “stinker”, and it has been my experience that, in the long run, they get transferred to Siberia, where they have plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of always stressing things be done “by-the-book”.)

I had a different concern, regarding collapsing roofs. I like to provide the children with igloos to play in, at our Childcare, however because the snow has never once been the sticky snow children make snowmen and snowballs from, all winter, I had to construct igloos of blocks of packed powder. This is actually what Eskimos build their igloos from, up where temperatures are -40.

(Please do not inform me I am disrespectful to use the word “Eskimo” and should use the word “Inuit”.  Such people know I have huge respect for the ability to survive vicious winters, but think lesser respect is petty, and superficial. Furthermore, if they really care about such petty things, I’ll make a deal with them: “I will call Eskimos “Inuits” when they respect a sacred tradition of my tribe, and always follow the letter “Q” with the letter “U”, when using a form of communication called “writing”, which, as far as I know, Eskimos never developed on their own.  They likely didn’t bother because writing is a petty thing, compared to surviving when it is forty, fifty, sixty and even seventy below zero. )

In any case, despite the lack of sticky snow, I created a structure the little children delighted in. By running the snow-blower around and around in a circle in the playground, aiming the chute in towards a central area, I could turn four feet of snow into a mountain of packed powder they could climb up and slide down. Then a sort of worm-hole was carved through the mountain, and at one end I carved blocks from the mountain and constructed an igloo of chunks of dry snow that that didn’t stick together, and only didn’t fall because employed the principles of the arch, which was first discovered by the Roman Empire and Eskimos, but not by the Inca.

The problem is that children are not satisfied by crawling into an igloo. They have a strange desire to scale the outside as well, and sit on the top. Because the structure was not made of sticky snow, and only made of blocks of dry snow, I had to again be a grouch and a meany and forbid climbing the roof of the igloo, especially as I got a bit carried away, and the roof was seven feet tall.

Only yesterday was the snow, for the first time all winter, sticky. As soon as the drive and walkways and entrances were clean, the very first thing I did, (after attending to the nagging goats), was to head straight to that igloo and pack all the chinks between the dry blocks of snow with sticky, wet plaster.  (I only did the outside; the inside must await a warmer day.) The structure went from looking like a Yankee stone wall, laced with cracks and chinks and crannies, to looking utterly smooth.)

I’m not sure why I did this. I sure didn’t need the exercise, as I already was gobbling aspirin.  But I’m glad I did it. Everything froze solid last night, and stayed below freezing as today dawned gray and cold, and only got up to 27.9°.  Towards noon, as I drove into the parking lot, bringing my gang-of-six back from half-day kindergarten, I glanced toward that igloo, and seated at the tippitytop was a curly-headed three-year-old, waving merrily at me.

(I’m going to have to have words with the staff about igloo-watching.)

Another concern I face this time of year is that the sledding suddenly goes from slow to rocket-speed. For the entire winter the trails have been packed powder, and any crashes were into fluff. Now a glaze forms on the trails, and increasingly the snow gets crusty, and crashes are into snow that is less kindly. Small children delight in going much faster, and need to instructed about the dangers of speed. Such awareness doesn’t seem to be something humans know about, in their chromosomes. (Nor do small children listen to me, as much as they learn from first-hand experience, and having a scab on the tip of their nose.)

Parents who allow their children to come to our Childcare are not the sort who feel children should be bubble-wrapped and placed in a padded cell. They understand healthy children tend to have scabs on their knees. However I myself don’t like scabs on the tips of noses, and do everything I can to avoid what we call a “face-plant”, which causes such scabs.  However today we had our first face-plant, six feet away from a mother, and it happened not on the sledding trails, but at the igloo.

I can’t blame my staff, because I was working, but I was busy adding a new room to the igloo, and was not attending properly. The mother had arrived, and her boy, who loses his mittens with amazing regularity, had already turned in his “loaner” mittens and therefore had naked hands. I expected they would head to the car and go home. However the mother got to talking to a member of my staff, and somewhat to my astonishment, these supposedly mature women came out to the igloo and lay down and went worming in through a child-sized entrance to investigate the cavern at the side of a snow mountain. Meanwhile the small boy, with nothing better to do, decided to climb the snow mountain without using his naked hands. Bad idea. Because he was protecting his hands, they somehow got trapped beside his body as he slid face-first like an otter, and he did a face-plant, just as his mother was reappearing. feet-first, from the worm-hole.

He suffered a nick on his nose, and another on the skin above his upper lip, and his chapped lower lip split slightly (but didn’t turn into a “fat lip.”)  However facial wounds bleed a lot, especially in the case of young and healthy circulations, and though in this case the bleeding lasted all of thirty seconds, five-year-old boys are not macho at the sight of blood, and this child let loose a bawl likely heard on the far side of the moon.

As one of the older children dashed off, and swiftly returned with roughly half a box of Kleenex in a huge wad, and we mopped up the blood, I figured the mother would be displeased with my skills as a childcare-provider. To my surprise she wasn’t. She watched as I went through my usual routine, admiring the blood and the loudness of the bawling, and then acting a little disappointed that the bleeding had stopped (as was shown by the failure of the Kleenex to mop any more,) and even more disappointed by the failure of the bawling to get louder. I was helped by the fact the mother was present, and could give the magical hug that makes hospitals look pathetic, as it stops crying far more swiftly, at no cost. However, as the boy returned from trauma to laughing, I was surprised the mother was so stoic, and wasn’t mad at me.

It turned out she was surprised I wasn’t mad at her. She thought her boy was bleeding because, as she squirmed out of the igloo feet first, she had accidentally kicked her child in the lip. She was very glad she hadn’t kicked him, and a face-plant was to blame.

This demonstrates the complicated social interactions which lawyers and bureaucrats would take months in courtrooms to resolve, but which mothers and childcare-providers deal with swiftly, and often do so several times in a single hour.

What do we understand that they don’t?  Perhaps we simply know that in a month all the snow will be gone, and none of this will matter or even exist any more.

However it is going to be a long, long month, I fear. For the time being all the snow may be suppressed south, and it may be southern states getting the record snows as the cold sinks south. We only had a few flakes today, and Boston only got a dusting.

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Currently we are only spared because the current upper air trough is “positively tilted,” and the front is a “anafront”.  (On his superb blog at Weatherbell, Joseph D’Aleo has a wonderful explanation of such meteorological concepts, today.)  To simplify greatly, all the weather is sweeping west-to-east out to sea, to our south.

I look further south, to the Gulf of Mexico, where I see the above maps show a sort of weak, winter “Bermuda High” is starting to bring up tropical juice.  I have a very nervous feeling we  will not get out of this winter without a surge of that tropical juice interacting with arctic air, and giving the east coast one, last, farewell kick in the butt. After all, this far north March is still a winter month. In 1993 the entire east coast was clobbered by a magnificent storm, but even that amazing event was small potatoes compared to a storm that hit between March 11 and 14 in 1888.

Blizzard of 1888 nyhs_pr020_b-92_f-3_001

That 1888 storm hit after a mild winter, when they had no snow banks to begin with. If such a storm were to hit us now, with the huge snowbanks we already have, New England would be basically be shut down. Of course, we’d make an effort to clean up, but the real clean up would be done by spring sunshine in April. For the most part we’d rely on that, and not on bureaucrats, lawyers, and politicians, who think they have power, but are pawns to a realer Reality.

UPDATE  —SUPER SUNNY—

It was -2.0° (-18.9° Celsius) just before sunrise this morning.  It’s unusual to get sub-zero cold in March. It’s also unusual to have the entire USA basically storm free, without any rain or snow except  a few showers off the southern tip pf Texas, and flurries up in Washington State.

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I refuse to be fooled by this benign map. I’m waiting for Grrr-blow (play on words: Waiting For Godot), and will not lower my guard and be hit by a sucker punch.

However I have to admit the March sunshine does get to you. It has a sort of exuberance utterly unlike December’s sun, and gets under your eyelids and chases gloom from the caverns of your mind. Even our old, fat cat waddles to the front door and stands by it, as if it actually will go outside for the first time in months. Of course, if you open the door, it recoils from the inrush of arctic air, and does an about-face. However the sunshine pouring in the window can fool even a comfort-loving cat.

Into my mind this morning came exuberant sunshine, and out of the blue I recalled a song I wrote at age 19, after a long, cold, and seemingly hopeless winter.

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 sailor’s porpoise fin?
I see you’re in
Beneath your shroud.

I had better be careful. If I don’t watch it I’ll be fooled into smiling by something you can’t put in a bank: Sunshine.

EVENING UPDATE;  ARCTIC SUNSHINE

Today was dazzling, so brilliant that I verged on snow-blindness. When I stepped indoors it seemed very dark, even when I turned on the lights. The temperatures only topped off around 20°. ( I have to move my Christmas thermometer, for the sun has gotten high enough to mess up its midday readings.) Yet the snow softened next to south-facing walls, or on south-facing slopes, and I was able to transport sticky snow in a sled to my  igloo and strengthen the walls. The snow has settled to a degree where small children can walk on top of it rather than wallowing through it. It remains amazingly deep, but definitely is on the defensive.

The snow-cover is extensive. Joseph D’Aleo had some great satellite shots today on his blog at Weatherbell. However what I notice is how it is largely to the east. The snow-cover had record-setting readings way down in Kentucky, (-9° in Monticello). Meanwhile way up in Wyoming there is hardly any snow-cover across the entire state.  To me this suggests things are out-of-balance, and some peculiar adjustment will occur. My forecast? Planet Earth will abruptly veer from its orbit and head off towards Pluto.

Snowcover March 6 nsm_depth_2015030605_National

I think it was a dazzling day over a lot of the USA. Mighty March sunshine briefly rules. A single weak clipper-like storm nudges into Minnesota.

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I worked a long afternoon shift at our Farm-Childcare, including “quiet time”, which involves watching innocent children nap. Usually at least one is trouble, but today, for some strange reason, all konked out. So I sat and thought about March sunshine and wrote a couple of sonnets.

All winter the snow’s been powder, never
The glue you can stick together and shape
Into castles and forts and other clever
Constructs of winter minds, until now, too late
To build anything lasting, snow’s sticky.
What’s the use of starting? Forts won’t last.

What’s the use? Ah! There thought gets tricky
For all things will someday crumble, be past,
Yet who can resist building castles of sand
At the beach, despite a gargantuan
Snoring, a stone’s throw off? It’s our demand
That we bloom; fruitfulness is part of man.

Therefore I’ll build snow forts in sunshine
That will erase all, and leave not a sign.

********

Moved by March sunshine, my wise, old, fat cat
Waddles to the door and looks up at me
As if she might go out. Fat chance of that
When the temperature won’t nudge past twenty
At noon, and yesterday’s slush is so frozen
That light-footed ladies crunch like elephants
Passing in the street. My cat hears, and then
Turns away from the door, not taking the chance
Of wincing whiskers with in-rushing arctic.
Still, the sunshine is March’s, so the wise cat
Walks to where light pools, and pauses to lick
Her paws, and then slides into warm honey that
Will push her across the rug all morning.
March sunshine moves us, without warning.

I get a lot of quiet joy from playing with words and penning sonnets, and tend to softly chuckle to myself  and, if I am describing a cat,  to take on the cat’s facial expressions as I describe it. Just as I was finishing the second sonnet I glanced up, and saw a small six-year-old girl, with her head up on her elbows, was studying the contortions of my face with obvious, deep, and grave interest.

One wonders what she might tell her parents.