LOCAL VIEW –The Drumbeats Of Drought In New Hampshire–(With Postscript)

In the past I have posted about (or perhaps bragged) about how people in New England do not know what a drought is, nowadays, because, when I was a boy, we had a drought that went on year after year, until Boston was talking about the need for a second reservoir to supplement Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts, because Quabbin was nearly dry, and vanished towns had reappeared on its dry edges. (I’ll skip repeating tales from my boyhood, of illegally fishing and swimming in the Stony Brook Reservoir, except to say they are fond memories.)

I may have to eat my words, for this summer’s drought is becoming the worst single-year drought I can remember, here in Southern New Hampshire. Even the hurricane milling about to our south last week only gave us east winds with a mist in it, and when a front came through and dropped the temperature from 82°F to 72°F with only the slightest sprinkle of rain, I began to wonder if this might be an autumn of fires. They are rare in New England, but have happened.

New England is a fairly wet place, and there are not that many species that are adapted to fires, as there are out west. However I have noticed even the larger lakes are lower. Here is a picture of the shore of Lake Massabesic, which supplies the City of Manchester its water.drought2-6-img_3824

That is about an hour east of my Farm-childcare. Twenty minutes west in Peterborough is Noone Falls on the Contoocook River, with a bare trickle flowing over it.

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At the Weatherbell Site Joseph D’Aleo has been keeping an eye on the drought, and I lifted these maps from two of his posts.

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In actual fact I think there should be a small spot of red further west on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border to mark my Farm-childcare, because it seems every passing shower has missed us. I have a customer with a rain gauge, and though he only lives a mile and a half away, on several occasions he has received a half inch from a thunder shower, as I got only a trace. This is a bit unusual, as I’m on the east slopes of a hill, and usually get more.

As a consequence a mountain stream that tumbles down from the hill has been reduced to a tiny trickle. I have never seen the likes of it. Here is the amount of water flowing from the flood-control reservoir that blocks that stream. drought2-5-img_3825

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(The sticks at the bottom right of the picture are cut by beavers, who are at war with the State Of New Hampshire and constantly attempt to block the pipe.  A man from the State constantly clears it.  My tax dollars at work.)

I worry about the native brook trout that live in the stream. There cannot be much oxygen in the water, with such a slight trickle flowing, and the water is likely getting warm, in the few remaining pools.

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What impresses me most is the farm pond, which was bulldozed eight feet deep in clay back in 1967 (before laws about wetlands) so my stepmother’s cows could get their own water even when the hand-dug well went dry. It is spring-fed, and even on dry summers, when the intermittent stream that feeds into the pond goes dry, there usually is a trickle flowing out. The water was clear and clean, and we swum in it. Not this year. drought2-8-img_3925

A heron has grown fat, stalking around the shore, for the frogs have no place to hide.  But now children can see what became of their fish hooks, when they ignored me and cast out on the east side. (Those trees came down in the 2008 ice storm, which doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but was before they were born.) (Water usually completely covers the snags.)

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This drought has been going on a long time, locally. It even showed in last winter’s precipitation maps. One month the rain would be north of us, and the next south of us. Or east of us, and then west of us. The lawns have gotten crunchy, and last week’s mist only nourished the crabgrass, which sucked up the surface damp and already is dry.

When I scuff through the crispy woods I wonder if this might be the year we see what people in New England saw in 1947, when entire towns burned in southern Maine.

http://www.pressherald.com/2012/10/07/the-week-that-maine-burned_2012-10-07/

POSTSCRIPT:

I should have mentioned there is one thing that is relishing the drought. It is a small sort of ant that builds nests in impractical places (even the handlebars of bikes) and likely loses a lot of colonies each time it rains, due to floods. This year they have thrived, and last week sudden swarms appeared in all sorts of unlikely places, as some unknown trigger, perhaps the length of the day, brought them out to perform their mating flights.

They have absurdly oversized wings, three times as long as their small bodies, and are rather lousy fliers. It seems to me that rather than attempting to avoid preditors their strategy is to overwhelm with their sheer numbers. They seem to float about, rather than fly, and I can’t say having a cloud of them in your face makes a drought any better. Within an hour or two they are all gone, with only some anthills of dirt remaining to show they were more than an odd dream.

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(The last two ant pictures by Marlowe Gautreau).

                 DROUGHT SONNET

Flowers turn their faces from their old friend
And bluest skies seem soured by broken trust.
Balmy breezes fail to heal; What’s mild won’t mend
And even crabgrass yellows in the dust.

The dewless dawn comes begging for a cloud
But once again what’s fair does not seem fair.
What swelled our pride no longer seems so proud
And carefree sunbeams stress our noons with care.

And so it seems all things upon our earth:
Our wealth; our fame; our friends; and our powers
Are dry, and soon are deemed of little worth
If You don’t spill Your mercy on our flowers.

Only the busy ants buzz, and don’t complain,
So come again to thirsty earth, and reign.

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Non-local View,

One problem with running a Childcare is that, when school teachers take vacations,  parents need childcare even more,  and therefore school vacations are no vacation for a “Childcare Professional.”  You go from working hard to working harder. You work and work until you can’t take any more. You need escape.

Smarter Childcares just close down for “Quarterly Maintenance,” which is a way of hiding the fact they are all cooling their heels and getting some well-earned time off. But closing puts the parents in a bind, because they still have to work, and have no place for their kids. I can’t stand to see full grown adults grovel, so our Childcare basically never closes. Eventually, when either I or my wife are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, we do the irresponsible thing, which is to play hooky. Fortunately we have an excellent staff, and they cover for us, when we run off screaming and waving our hands in the air.

I didn’t see the latest episode coming. My wife said, “I sure could use a break,” and I was busy at the computer and just murmured, “Me too.”  I didn’t realized that counted as authorization. The next thing I knew she asked me to carry the bags out to the car.

It is odd to wake up in a different town, utterly outside of my ordinary routine, but for me it feels strangely familiar. I’m back on the road again. It is like thirty years ago, when I was a hobo, but back then I never had a beautiful woman with me.  But where was I? Oh yes, when I wake up it is with a strange sense time is altered. Not only am I unsure of where I am; I’m unsure what the year is.

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I’m in Newburyport, which is where clipper ships once were built, and left for China.  Those days are long gone, but it does not take much for me to activate the superpowers of my imagination, and the ghosts of ships are sailing in though the glitter along side the draggers of today.

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It is but a twinkling of time to ruffle the pages of history.  The booms go bust.  Whaling is a way to get rich, then a way to break even, and then all the gathered wisdom of the Whaling Masters is an obsolete art, fading away, and scorned by a young and prissy Save-the-whales activist who may have soccer-legs, but whose spindly arms could never hurl a harpoon hard enough to prick a whale, yet who thinks he is courageous to carry a sign.  “What fools”, the skinny twerp sneers, looking back at the men who lit all the lamps of New England, but simply ruffle the pages of time a little, and the twerp is the one being laughed at from the future, and all his Computer Mastery is just more obsolete knowledge, here today and gone tomorrow, like dust in the wind or spangles on the waves.

Standing in historic places always make me wonder what it would be like to have the super-vision of a prophet like Isaiah, and to be able to see the ages spread out like the frames of a comic strip, with past, present and future all visible at once.  Isaiah could see the Jews arriving with Moses from Egypt, inheriting and building a prosperous land, but getting too fat and decadent, and then being led off to captivity in Babylonia, but then returning and…

I’m not a prophet, but I have had three cups of coffee, which is almost the same thing, and when I look about the harbor I can’t help but notice nearly all the boats are pleasure boats. Nearly all the modern boat building must be pleasure boat building. People work hard, but the industry is the tourist industry. What a change this harbor has seen!  It  has shifted from the puritan work-ethic to the modern leisure-ethic.

Well, I too am a tourist. The house I’m in is not my own;  it is a bed and breakfast. I’m just passing through, a free and homeless hobo. I’m not like a perriwinkle, who house is a home he can never leave, nor like the chambered nautilus in Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem, expanding his home into “greater mansions”,  but rather I’m like the hermit crab, who knows his home will grow too small, and seeks a larger shell, yet must pass through a time, shifting from a small shell to a larger one, when he has no shell at all, and is butt naked.

In a sense to be a tourist is to willingly and willfully become homeless.  It is to be a hobo. True, people attempt to do it in style, and the RV’s that come lurching into campgrounds are about as far from true camping as one can get, and are tantamount to lugging around a home as you are homeless, but somewhere under all that claptrap is an ideal, and the ideal is Freedom.

It amazes me how, no sooner do people have any free time, they fill it with chains. They deny it of course, but into my mind’s eye comes the image of a man who wants to simplify his life to a bathing suit and a towel, and yet winds up laboring to get six coolers, five beach umbrellas, beach balls, Frisbees, horseshoes, a stereo system, and eleven folding chairs across hot sand to the edge of the water. Where is the freedom in that?

When I get grumpy I think we are the opposite of Pilgrims. They arrived with no food and no shelter and no insurance and no welfare checks. All they had were some tools and a whole lot of freedom.  Now we have tons of stuff, but are in danger of losing the freedom.

It is too much to think about, when I am suppose to be resting, but  I can’t help it, when wandering the mouth of the Merrimac, with the dazzle filling my eyes. Across the dazzle is the Coast Guard station, to save the vacationers when they are in trouble…

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…but I think we may need a greater Guard than that.

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Local View –Shadberry Rains–

I should likely start this post with a weather map, showing how even when a low swings out to sea, and a cold front pushes past with a following high pressure, sometimes the clouds refuse to depart.  (Also note the low way up by Hudson Bay. If you think it doesn’t intend to plunge south and plauge New England, you lack the pessimism necessary to live here. If you don’t believe me, move here. It is right about now that lots of immigrants start screaming and ripping their hair out), (and they haven’t even met our black flies.)

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This year has been typical, teasing immigrants (called “Flatlanders” around here) with balmy weather in March, seducing them into thinking spring is about to come this far north at the same time it came further south in their past, in the far away places they came from. As a bit of irony, temperatures hit 73° (23° Celsius) on April first, as an April Fool’s joke. And to totally tantalize the suckers from the south, a few trees such as swamp maples behaved as if they were about to burst into leaf, risking some early blooms. For proof, I offer you a picture from Farmer’s New Year (March 25).

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Yet here it is, nearly 40 days later, and the swamp maple still haven’t leafed out. As the Flatlanders scream, the trees go “bwah ha ha ha.”

The trees are a lot smarter than the people around here, which makes sense, as they’ve lived longer. Of course, psychiatrists will object to my saying that, stating trees don’t have brains, and can’t think. Perhaps that is what makes trees smarter.

Regarding psychiatrists, I will say this much: Some of the kids we have had pass through our Childcare have been troubled, and they have been to psychiatrists, and also they have been to groves of pines. Guess which did nothing for the child’s bad mood (which some call “mental health”), and guess which healed the child’s hurt heart when humans couldn’t?  (Oops, I gave the answer away, by using that word “humans”.)

People do have brains, but mostly it just gets us in trouble. For example, take the subject of “being in harmony in with nature.” This subject makes humans absolutely bonkers. In my time I have seen one actress hit by a bucket of red paint as she left a theater wearing a fur coat, and another actress sprayed with manure as she baked muffins in a pasture. (These ridiculous, yet real-life, cartoons come to you courtesy of Greenpeace.)

Whatever you may say about trees, they would never be caught dead doing anything like that.

We only have one life, but according to some the “One Life” goes on and on through countless incarnations, as our consciousness strives to be One with God’s.

I have enough trouble remembering where I put my car keys, and can’t remember what I was doing before I was born, but, according to some, a long, long time ago we ourselves were trees. If that is so, I can’t say we’ve learned all that much, in a million incarnations of evolution.

I got tremendous enjoyment from Tolkien’s trilogy when I came to the part where the “Ents” make an appearance, as “shepherds of the trees”. At our Childcare I have often regaled the children with tales and warnings about “walking trees”, even to the point where one young boy marched up to me one morning and informed me, “My dad says there is no such thing as walking trees.”

However Tolkien didn’t understand one thing about trees, and it is this secret: Their heads are in the soil, and their limbs reach up towards the sun. If a tree ever did wake up and walk, it would bring its limbs to the earth, rip its roots up, and you’d face a creature with a mane like a lion, but a mane filled with crumbling dirt.  It would see you without eyes…….unless, of course, it was a potato.

Which works me around to the subject:  I did get some potatoes planted today, with the help of small children at the Childcare. In theory it was a teaching experience. I’m never sure the youngest get what I am saying, which is that by sticking perfectly good food in the dirt we get ten to twenty times as much perfectly good food. It is the older kids, the hoary veterans aged four and five,  those who had the fun of digging up the potatoes last fall, and roasting them by a fire, who have a glimmer of understanding. The younger ones are far more fascinated by earthworms.

I also dared transplant into the garden four kale plants, and six broccoli plants, just to gamble and prove even old geezers like me can live at the edge. I’ve seen killing frosts even this late, but I glanced at the sky, and consulted Weatherbell (my favorite long-range forecast site), and I stroked my white beard and looked wise, but in the end I consulted the trees. (It is a sign of our times, perhaps, that mere vegetables are so much smarter than the mainstream-media.  I didn’t consult the mainstream-media at all.)

The carrots, beets, seedling kale, onions, garlic, fennel, turnips, seedling Brussels sprouts, and lettuce haven’t sprouted yet, nor will they ever sprout if I work too long and appear dull to the children, (for bored kids at a Childcare can trample a soft seedbed as hard as a parking lot in the twinkling of an eye), so I, as the wise master of small slaves, decided it was time to go for a walk, and consult the trees.

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Abruptly I was stopped by a lovely bloom I pass every year without ever bothering to ask myself what it is. I always assumed it was some sort of cherry, (or perhaps a relative of blueberries, as its small cherries had a blueberry-like look, at the ends of their berries), but I never bothered be sure because usually everything busts out in May in such a rush you have no time to sort things out. But this year spring seems to be in slow motion, if not in suspended animation, and I have had time for things I never had time for before. Apparently one is never too old to learn, because I learned this bloom was one I’d read a lot about. Can you name it?

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Some called this serviceberry. Why?  Because in the old days the ground was too frozen to bury people in the winter. (Old timers told me that back in the day they stuck all old people who refused to do their chores in the “Town Tomb” in the fall, and in the spring they’d open it and any who didn’t walk out would get buried. This is a subject for another post, but I may include a picture of the “Town Tomb” at the end of this post, if I ever find the time to take one.) When the ground was finally soft enough to bury people, they would have a service, with this bush blooming around the edges of the graveyard, so it was called serviceberry.

Because the bush blooms so early, it is also the first to have berries, so it is also called “juneberry.” As eggs are just hatching and voracious fledglings are demanding, these berries are for the birds, and I was brought up to avoid “bird berries”, and have never tried them.  I understand they are sour.

However the name I had heard much about, without ever identifying the actual plant it referred to,  was “shadbush”. Back a few hundreds of years ago shadbush told you the shad were running, and then all else was dropped. Few shad came as far upstream as these hills, but a wonder of ancient, local laws was that people had to drop all quarrels when the shad, herring and salmon were running. You could be a Hatfield, and could travel to the hunting grounds of the McCoy’s, but you weren’t allowed to fight your worst enemy, when you were fishing. (Strange but true, and perhaps an example for modern man.)

Shad, dried and turned to powder, was a local ingredient of a local wonder-food called “pemmican”. Pemmican was one third powdered meat, one third powdered nuts and berries, and one third pure fat. The hunters who carried this food could travel a week or two with breakfast, lunch and dinner in a small bag.  Apparently a spoonful now and again was all you needed, even while burning a lot of calories hunting. The ingredients varied from place to place, but it was common from coast to coast in America in the old days. Out west they likely substituted buffalo for shad, but eating three tablespoons a day didn’t seem to stunt anyone’s growth. When the first Europeans arrived in New England their men averaged around five feet five inches, as New Englanders averaged six feet.

The children regard me suspiciously when I tell them such tales. After all, I’m the same old geezer who tells them about walking trees. However they are interested in eating, and today they sampled wild mustard leaves, yellow dock leaves, and the inner part of the root of burdock. (These are the same kids who refuse to eat the really good food some mother’s prepare.) (One trick I use is to tell them, “You can spit this out if you want to. You probably won’t like it. Only grown-ups like it.” ) (To prove they are grown up, they try to like it even when they don’t.)

Locally the berry used in pemmican was usually blueberries, dried and powdered, probably because blueberries are easiest to dry, (but perhaps because blueberries have wondrous, modern stuff called “antioxidants” in them), (not that the word “antioxidants” was invented, back in the day.) But other berries were used as well, including a small berry that grows in the straw. Darned if I can remember its name, but the commercial variety is now as big as plum, while the native variety is as small as a pea. Whatever this berry-that-grows-in-the-straw is called, it usually blooms around now, but this spring has been so retarded I didn’t expect to see any. I checked, just the same, and there it was! The what-cha-call-it berry, blooming in the dead straw! (The children were not all that interested, likely because you can’t eat it yet.) (But they did tell me I was a dope, and the plants are called “strawberries.”)

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And this is how I entertain myself, as the dull, gray, wet day passes. It may not seem all that entertaining to Flatlanders, but then, I am not the one going absolutely bonkers, just because the leaves don’t come out in April.

It’s a damp day, bright May-gray clouds low,
With spring holding back like eyelash’s tears;
Blossoms blinking, wet and drooping, although
Most remain buds, and the forest appears
Like winter’s, except for a green haze
Indistinct midst wet twigs that string bright pearls
Like veils over depth-green hemlocks.
                                                                             This day’s
Drenched though rain’s stopped; boughs bow; and white curls
Of shredded fog stand still on the dark slopes
Of breathless hills.
                                       The clouds are so bright
That all wet things shine; even shadow gropes
With bright reflections.
                                                 The shrouded might
Of rebirth blends wild hope with foreboding,
Silence with the sound of blossoms exploding.

However I should confess that entertaining myself in this manner takes a lot out of me. I huff and puff planting potatoes in a way that is downright embarrassing. Where entertainment once knocked my socks off, now I just wind up too tired to take my socks off.

Wives don’t approve of husbands flopping in bed with dirty socks on, but neither she nor my children will take pity on a weary old man. Granddaughters, however, are different. When my wife complains about socks, and I whine I’m too tired, a two-year-old granddaughter springs into action:

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It all goes to shows you that, in terms of true intelligence, trees come in first, a two-year-old comes in second, and everyone else comes in a very, very distant third.

LOCAL VIEW –Sapping Taxing Times–

The most miserable times of my life were when my parents separated, and told me nothing because they wanted to “spare” me. (As if a child doesn’t notice a disappeared father.) I think the second winter was the worst, likely because I gradually was worn down by the unceasingly insidious depression, and very quietly underwent a childish breakdown, culminating in a ferocious case of influenza that laid me so low I spent two weeks in bed, including a couple of days of hellish fever dreams (which made me very able to understand and even help people having bad trips on LSD, a half-decade later.)

The good part was that, when I was finally allowed out of bed. it happened to be the first day of winter vacation, so I missed three weeks of school, altogether. Sometimes I think this may have contributed to my recovery more than anything else, for school was poison.

I’d been skipped ahead a grade, which made me the youngest and smallest boy in my class. Being skipped ahead was suppose to challenge and uplift me, but I didn’t find school particularly uplifting.  It was a time of life when twelve months makes a big difference, and all the other children had gone (in my eyes) utterly mad, due to the onset of hormones, while I retained the sanity of childhood. Not that I didn’t boyishly blush when girls smiled at me, but they had stopped doing that, because I seemed to shrink to a point where I practically looked up at their kneecaps when I danced with them. I can’t really blame them for not wanting me to ask them to dance, but, at a time I really could have used some affection, I became the opposite of a status symbol at school. It was no fun going there. A sick bed was preferable. Perhaps even dying was preferable.

I’m sure I sound melodramatic, but it truly was a time when affection came in crumbs, few and far between. My mother had always been distant, and now she was overworked as well, a single-mother pulling twelve-hour-shifts as a night-nurse. The heat was turned down to save on the oil bill, and we suddenly had only 40 watt bulbs, and the darkness and cold was creeping in on me. I never got hugged. It was a very big deal when I got a “Mighty Max” winter coat. That felt almost like a hug, but then the fever hit.

I know affection mattered, because the day I suddenly thought I might be feeling much better was the day my mother efficiently brought the daily hospital-tray with soup and crackers to my sickbed, and matter-of-factly mentioned, “Some girl named Sandra asked about you at the market. She said she hopes you’re feeling better.” I suddenly felt warm and fuzzy. Sandra and I went back a long way.

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It is strange what small things can separate times when you constantly feel chilled and shivering, from times you feel so warmed that you can play for hours in the snow and never feel the cold at all. As a boy a girl’s smile could do it, but I never even saw Sandra’s smile, and her parents took her off to Florida for that vacation.

Vacations were always a blessed break from the humiliations of school, but that particular vacation seemed especially blissful, as I did all the things that boys do well, and skipped all the humiliating botheration of dances and sporting teams and homework and tests.

Towards the end of that vacation I did one of the dumb things that boys do so well, which usually make girls detest them. I meant to get a pretty girl’s attention with a snowball, but she turned at just the wrong time and stooped, and the snowball plastered her face like a pie. She was tearful and also absolutely furious, and I felt pretty bad about the attention I had successfully earned, but just then a stroke of genius flashed through my brain. As she ineffectually attempted to fling snowballs into my face I pretended terror, and backed away further and further up a roadside snowbank, until I pretended to fall off the top into a snow-covered bush, uttering a long, drawn-out wail. When I popped my  head up through the snow to see how effective my act had been, I saw the girl laughing, with a warm light in her eyes, and, at the very least, knew I wasn’t loathed any more.

Though my small success didn’t put me up there with Don Juan or James Bond, I felt pretty good about myself after that. To my surprise the sensation lasted even after school started. I didn’t suddenly get “A’s”, or abruptly become the shortest person ever to make the basketball team, but my mood was so good I did manage to stay out of troubles I found for myself, back when I felt bad. There is something about a cringing person that makes you want to give them a swat, but no one wanted to swat me any more, and in fact I was so charming and cheerful that even my fantastic excuses-for-undone-homework brought out the mercy in the grouchier teachers. It amazed me, and I felt like I was on what gamblers call “a roll” and baseball players call “a streak”. It is a wonderful thing, but no one really knows how it happens. In my life it always seems like a warm avalanche overwhelming, set off by the smallest pebble of kindness.

On that long-ago  March First a warm west wind was blowing and the air was filled with the hope of spring, and I climbed to the topmost branches of a tall hemlock next to my home and swayed in the wind, pretending I was up the mast of a clipper ship, and thinking how great I felt, and how great life was, and how odd it was to be free of the gloom that had plagued me all winter. For the first time in my life I felt the urge to express joy in a poem.  I ran out of gas nearly as soon as I started, but I still have the poem:

Spring is here;
It’s that time of year.
Snow will melt quick
And turn into ick.
Another thing to say
Can wait for another day.

Another day came, and went, becoming another decade that came and went, until now it is more than a half century that has come and gone, and still the First of March always gives me a strange sense that hope can appear from darkness, whether the darkness be night or winter or sickness. There is something miraculous about dawns and springs and healing. It is something beyond the dour mathematics of intellectual pragmatism. It defies the tax-accounting, insurance-adjusting mentality, which sees the ravages of time and speaks only of depreciation. Instead it speaks of appreciation.

I think it is a good thing that this mood hits me at this time of year, because it is at this time of year I have to face my taxes. I absolutely loath the paperwork, (perhaps because there is no excuse for not doing homework, at my age),  yet I often grumble the IRS is wise to hit us right when winter has us at our weakest, and we’re least prone to revolt. Boston-Tea-Party-Hero-ABHowever even in April you can push a people too far. Taxes are due April 15, and April 19 remembers Lexington:PatriotsDay1Some think such nonsense is left in the past, but it isn’t. Patriot’s Day is no picnic any more. Boston-Marathon-Bombing

Maraton Victims 58f086c80d57462f94b6836743ec689d-58f086c80d57462f94b6836743ec689d-0-9429Once the prospect of war would have made me thirst to enlist,  (even if I enlisted to be bloodied protesting as a pacifist), but now the glare tends to leave me glum and depressed, and fails to uplift me to the mood I felt as a boy up at the top of a hemlock. The gradual deepening of shadows across the landscape of our times depresses me, and reminds me more of being a boy in my sickbed, fearing the shadows in the corners of my room. I feel old, less strong, less able to take on the lunacy I live amidst. Once I’d take on a tiger on a dare, but now I’m not so sure that would be wise. After all, I’m getting to an age where I’d get some odd looks, if I climbed a hemlock to feel the wind in my face. Even a snapped-off hemlock leaning at a 45 degree angle might test me, though I confess I was tempted, as I watched a boy scramble up one today.Climbing Hemlock IMG_1836

It would be nice if the government treated us elderly geezers with respect, but the elderly might as well be a pack of Rodney Dangerfields. We get no respect.Dangerfield P_Rodney_Dangerfield_1

As soon as a parent or parents has at long-last gotten a child through college, the government increases his or her (or their) taxes, by taking away the “benefit earned” by having a “dependent” on tax returns.  (That word “benefit”irks me, for I am not the one “benefiting” from paying taxes. The government is.)

Not that the economy has much to offer our young graduates when they leave college. Many are unemployed, and they are not avoiding getting a Real Job as I once did, (claiming my real work was to be an “arteest”). Modern youth would work a Real Job if they could, (and in fact they must, to pay off their absurd college loans), but no such Real Jobs exist, thanks to the stupidity of the government’s economic planning, (and the stupidity of they who taught. In fact I think colleges should only be paid with a percentage of graduate’s actual earnings.)  In any case,  the parent must continue to help out, if they really care.

I think this is now a financial fact, and living-with-parents no longer should involve the shame it once did, (as long as the young adult doesn’t waste themselves away, playing video games in their parent’s basement.)

My middle son graduated with a (seemingly) fairly useless college degree in Biology, but he isn’t sitting around waiting for the perfect job to open up (where he would get paid for studying The Songbirds Of Paradise). He’s constantly sending out applications for such  dream-jobs, while working two humbling jobs (at a hospital and coffee shop)  just to meet the mortgage-sized payments on his college loan. So of course I am not going to charge for a spare bedroom. The colleges get the money, as the parents get the shaft.

One thing I am particularly envious of is my son’s energy. After two jobs he keeps right on going, charging off to do something that interests him, such as borrowing a “camera trap” to set up in the woods. (He only seemed slightly discouraged when this effort only rewarded him with 63 pictures of Gray Squirrels.)

Recently I pottered outside to see this odd stuff strung from trees in my snowless backyard:Tapping Maples 1 IMG_1832And this was on my back porch as well:Tapping Maples 2 IMG_1831

I know this is the newfangled way of tapping maples and making maple sugar, and begrudgingly confessed it was amazing that my son had done so much with so little money. He basically bought cheap plumbing-tubing and borrowed stuff. However he soon had a crowd of friends laughing on that porch, as they boiled sap on a Sunday, and I had to be careful changing out of my Sunday-go-to-meeting pants in my own bedroom, because the crowded porch was just outside that bedroom’s window. All the noise and laughter made me grumpy. Largely I think I was just plain jealous.

Mostly I was envious of the energy of youth, and the ability of youth’s hope to forge ahead without seeing all the glitches and pitfalls inherent in hopeful plans. (My son now has a hundred gallons of sap and no free time to boil them). (But we do already have a half gallon of maple syrup; I’d never have the energy to do that; it took me all season last year to get a half gallon, because I only tapped a single tree.) (As I get older my projects get smaller.)

In conclusion I simply have to confess I’m confused. I’m not sure how much of my grouchy mood is mere jealousy, because I don’t have the energy to do what I once did, and how much of my grouchy mood is justified, because I’m an elder, and I deserve respect, damn it all,  and not increased taxes, damn it all. Though my body may be depreciated, I deserve to be appreciated.

TWO SONNETS; POWERLESS AND POWER-MAD

Your will be done, but I tire. The long drought
Stretches like a dry winter: No snowscapes
Catch full moonlight. No victorious shout
Proclaims impossible dreams. Now I pout
Like a child disgruntled, or a dull Jack
Created by too much toil. Let Your song
Be freed. Let me sweetly fall back in love,
For what is work without love? I long
For the quick glance I’m always singing of,
But You seem indifferent. Give one glance.
For I know the difference one glance can make.
It’s been years, but beaming eyes can lance
The dragon of despair, and make a heart break
The chains of aching gray, as sweetest tears
Flow freely. Look at me. It’s been years.

I have seen how tiresome are the trinkets
Of wealth and fame, and how foolish are those
Who trample to gain, who sow cruel thickets
Of penned pain, and reap thorns without a rose.
They tramp pompously strutting through the lush landscape
Of my life, proof positive that to win
By grabbing is about as sweet as rape,
And the only smiles gleaned are a skull’s grin.
I’d rather remember the kind, whose deeds
Gained not wealth nor fame, but blossoming smiles
Even from soured faces. Such caring truly feeds
The hungry; heals the sick. As I cross the miles

Left to cross, I want to see that flower.
So give me not wealth or fame, but that power.

BAD LOSERS

 

Peanuts Comic

It is not merely the physical science behind Global Warming Alarmism that is rotten; the social science is equally rotten. The fiasco involves both the Sciences and the Arts. You cannot stick merely to facts, and avoid the topic of morality. Therefore this examination of the mutated ethics behind Global Warming Alarmism must begin with a very long digression, involving sportsmanship.

I have always admired good losers, because I am not one. For years I have made a New Year’s Resolution to become a better sport, but can’t keep the resolution. It only took me forty years to quit cigarettes, but quitting bad sportsmanship will take me longer.

Perhaps the roots are genetic, and boil down to owning an inherently bad temper, which my older brothers thought was amusing, when I was small. I was easy to disarm, so they would enrage me on purpose, just to see me dash off to the kitchen and come back at them with a carving knife. Then I grew as big as they, and my temper was no longer so amusing. The larger brother became more cautious when he teased, and the smaller one took a course in karate.

It wasn’t fun being a bad sport. I couldn’t lose a game of checkers without my rage uplifting me and sending me stomping about the room, wildly thrashing and accusing the other person of cheating. The only one who would play checkers with me was a special sort of person who was able to say, “You’re right. I cheated. You win. Want to play again?” (He did this so he could beat me again.)

When I grew to be a teenager I found it hard to keep a girlfriend, as most girls don’t particularly like childish displays of temper. But I do remember one diminutive girl who sort of liked beating me at tennis, despite my poor sportsmanship. I relied on brute strength, and towered above her, but she’d been to several tennis camps, owned something called “skill”, and I never could beat her.

The games always began with me saying I didn’t want to play, but she’d guilt me into playing by saying exercise was good for me and tennis was fun and something we could do together (when I was only interested in something else we could do together), so I’d wind up playing, and getting beaten. Sometimes the games began close, because I was much stronger and smashed the ball so hard she could barely see it, but as I tired my inaccuracy increased, and soon I’d be drenched in sweat while she looked cool as a cucumber, and my shots would start to stray and be “out”, and I’d get really mad, which always caused her to try very hard not to smile. That made me really, REALLY mad, so my next shot would be clear over the fence, which might be good in baseball, but in tennis it meant that once again a midget had beaten me.

I tried to explain to women that the reason I raved was because I was “sensitive”, and an artist, and not because I was a really bad sport. Amazingly, this sometimes worked, but not for all that long.

Another excuse for stomping about and raving was that I owned a “healthy competitive instinct”. This worked with the football coach, but not very well with women. Come to think of it, it didn’t work very well with my fellow artists, either, for back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s being competitive was not “hip”. It wasn’t “mellow”, “layed-back”, (and other words no one uses any more). In fact among artists having a “healthy competitive spirit” meant you were aggressive, a militant “hawk”, and a loser.

This exposed me to a perplexing ambiguity, for artists tended to be a collection of losers to begin with. They tended to flunk all their classes and never went out for sports. The only way they could see themselves as winners was to totally redefine everything, and to call winners “losers”, and to call losers like themselves “winners”. (Do not ask, “What about the production of actual art?” Being an artist back then was more a matter of who you hung out with, and where you hung out, and how you wore your beatnik beret, and, increasingly, what drugs you took.)

A shocking number of these friends of mine died young, either due to drugs or to AIDS, which would tend to suggest that when you are a loser you do lose, were it not for the fact that the survivors of this morally twisted collection of winners-are-losers nitwits are now running our nation, which is why my experience among losers is valuable, even though I myself was not very good at being a loser, and in fact was a bad loser.

Initially I had the required attributes of being a loser: I got poor grades and did badly on the teams I bothered to go out for. However I was a very bad sport about it. Then, as I gravitated towards artists, I discovered I was a loser even among the losers. I was a very bad sport about that as well.

It made me realize I was after something that the winners were not after, and the losers were not after. I needed to do some redefining of my own. Just as my fellow artists had redefined themselves as winners, despite being losers, I needed (simply to muster the self-esteem necessary for my egotistical survival), to redefine myself as a winner, despite the fact I was bad at winning and bad at losing.

Such a redefinition is no small matter. It has taken me half a century. Therefore you will have to forgive me if I digress yet again and take up a little less than a half-century of your time.

The pride and shame of New England is that we seemingly have a habit of redefinition. Sometimes the redefinition is a shining advance, and sometimes we fix something that wasn’t broken, and sometimes it is both. Both good and bad ideas have unintended consequences.

It continued long after the Boston Tea Party sparked a Revolutionary War, where the good idea of Liberty cost the young nation 1% of its population. A half-century later Oliver Wendell Holmes demanded doctors wash their hands (a decade before Louis Pasteur got the credit for discovering germs), and inadvertently this caused a crisis in the Church at a time when New England was the “Bible Belt,” (because germs were an invisible power other than God.) Not long after that other redefiners pushed the radical idea that slavery should be abolished in all places, which rather than mere paper legislation inadvertently led to the horrible slaughter of the Civil War, which cost nearly as many American lives as all the nation’s other wars combined.

And so it has continued, on and on, into my boyhood, where Timothy Leary advanced ideas about Liberty involving sex and LSD, inadvertently involving tragic consequences that many of us have seen play out with our own eyes, involving people we cared (and care) for deeply.

In conclusion, redefinition is no laughing matter, and nothing to take lightly. You can’t blithely reform things like the Ten Commandments or the American Constitution, without facing reverberations of a magnitude that is far from blithe.

To return to the topic of sports, as a boy I noticed New Englanders tend to be less athletic than the rest of the nation, perhaps due long winters stuck indoors, and perhaps due to an overdose of colleges and universities. New Englanders tend to be intellectual, rather than physical. Back in the last century the idea was that the only way New England could have a good sporting team was to invent a new sport. And this was proven by the fact that, during my boyhood, New England had among the nation’s worst baseball, football, and hockey teams, however we invented basketball, and had the best team for a while, before the rest of the nation figured out how to play better than our star Bob Cousy (who was ambidextrous and could amazingly (for that time) ball-handle with both hands!!!) (Nearly every player does that now.)Bob Cousy 122303Photo_Cousy

Considering I was a bad loser, it was rough to grow up last century, and be a boy supporting the last-place Red Sox, last-place Bruins, and last-place Patriots. You might think that, since I had so much experience supporting last-place teams, I would have become a better loser, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead it fed an intense craving within me to win.

I think this is how the psyche works. When we experience loss we replay it in our minds. The psychologists may call it “Post Traumatic Stress”, but we are replaying the films of the past game, noting the mistakes, and planning to play better in the next game. We own a craving to improve.

I often see this manifest the morning after the Patriots have lost a close football game. When I open our Farm-childcare, I get to see the state young parents are in, in the dusk before dawn, and after a Patriots loss many look haggard as they drop off their kids. They have suffered insomnia, as their mind kept replaying crucial plays, and they agonized over the details. Usually it is the young men who care about football, but the young wives suffered as well, for they had to sleep with the thrashing, kicking, sighing, muttering insomniacs. And of course I am able to empathize and commiserate, for I am the worst loser of them all.

This agony of defeat does not seem to be truly slaked by the thrill of victory. This century has seen New England win more than its fair share of championships, and an entire generation has grown up without a clue of what it was like to be a New Englander last century, but if anything championships have only increased the craving for victory, and made the agony of defeat worse. What’s more, if you win too often you become despised.darth-sidious-bill-belichick

Just as I used to stomp around raving and accuse friends of cheating when I lost at checkers, New England fans have discovered winning means you get accused of cheating. Cheaties 48971be54e96c1119e28f275122c9f4c_belichick_cheaties

It is interesting to stand back from all the emotion inherent in the agony of defeat, and see what actual improvements come from the pains of Post Traumatic Stress. One thing that becomes swiftly apparent is the importance of the rules. As one devises new and improved trick plays, one must constantly refer to the rulebook, to make sure the adjustments are legal. For example, one option that springs into my mind, during the agony of defeat, is to shoot the opponents. There is nothing in the NFL rulebook prohibiting this (I checked) however that isn’t the only rulebook we need to refer to.

And here’s where it gets interesting. It turns out that the rules we actually write down in the rulebook, for any particular sport, are but a dim reflection of higher and greater laws, which are “self evident”. These laws can be divided into two basic types. There are physical laws, such as the law of gravity, and then there are spiritual laws, which people tend to be a little squeamish about discussing.

In the case of football the physical laws come up because the amazing athletes push their physical limits. The spiritual laws come up when we attempt to keep them from hurting themselves too badly, and because we should care for these amazing men after they have sacrificed their bodies (and sometimes brains) and are crippled.

In the case of politics, and especially the politics of Global Warming, the exact same factors come into play, though some might protest politics is not a sport. But politics does involve winners and losers, and a rulebook called our laws, and the temptation to “amend” the laws, and to “redefine” how the game is played, and even what constitutes “winning”. It requires we be civil, if we are to call ourselves “civilized”, and that we follow certain set procedures we call “civil procedures”. And here again we see two basic types of laws that restrain man within certain limits: Physical laws and spiritual laws.

The physical laws are easier to deal with, because they are more obvious, though not always clear to a layman. They involve science and engineering, and require scientists and engineers to explain some of their less obvious details. For example, I once had a friend who wanted to install a huge hot tub up in her bedroom; despite the fact her plumber worried about the pressure this put on the drains. She learned to listen, after a major flood downstairs. Physical laws represent Truths that will not be mocked.

Spiritual laws are harder to deal with, because they often run counter to more selfish laws that politicians deal with, that are tantamount to a sort of Law Of The Jungle. For example, a politician needs to curry favor among constituents, and this sometimes tempts them to hand out money and jobs inappropriately, with the money diverted from the people and the job it was earmarked for. In the case of the levees of New Orleans, very little of the money Washington sent to improve the levees was actually spent on the levees, while a lot went to various sorts of “inspectors”, and to lawyers involved in endless environmental lawsuits. The result of this was that, when Katrina arrived, the levees were not ready to hold back the flood. It did not matter that the Law Of The Jungle had been obeyed, when The Law Of Nature arrived.

Politicians always claim they need more money, but money is useless if corruption misappropriates it. Few projects have involved cost overruns as insanely huge as Boston’s “Big Dig”, but the vast expense couldn’t change the result when substandard materials were used, resulting in a dangerously leaky tunnel that has already killed a driver with a roof collapse. Bostonians were happy when there were lots of jobs and Federal funds were being flung about, but they will be less amused when a tunnel-collapse cuts their city in half.

The Law Of The Jungle seems smart in the short term, but in the long term Truth will not be mocked. It is for this reason the Navy conducts trials. They will not trust a ship given to them by bureaucrats. The last high-speed troop carrier delivered to the Navy had its bow cave in, the first time it was tested in heavy seas. You don’t want to discover a shortcoming like that in the middle of a war.

It is hard to have such a trial when you are building a bridge, and it is embarrassing to all concerned when a brand new bridge has a structural failure, as occurred recently with the Nipigon Bridge in Canada. Glitches like that are suppose to be seen and ironed out when things are still in the planning phases, and not after a bridge is already built.

The sad fact of the matter is that we are likely to see more of these costly mistakes, not fewer, as long as we allow the political Law Of The Jungle to rule science and engineering. The sooner we erect some sort of barrier between politics and science the better off we will be.

This seems unlikely to occur until people recognize they can’t take the money and run. There seems to instead be the attitude that it doesn’t matter if levees fail in New Orleans, tunnels collapse in Boston, and bridges close in Canada, as long as one can retire safely to Florida. People think they can escape the consequences.

However this implies there are consequences, and some are not even willing to admit that. They assume they are the winner in a situation that causes others loss, and that others are the losers. They think that if there is karma to face or hell to pay, others will face it, as they sit back, eat cherries, and laugh last.

This is not how the Law Of The Jungle works. The king of the jungle doesn’t get to retire to Florida. The moment he shows any sign of weakness, he faces the jungle-consequences of weakness, of aging. Only a civil society cares for their elderly, or even allows the elderly to become philanthropists. In the jungle, as soon as you weaken, all your wealth is taken. That is just the way it works, when you abandon civil procedures and ignore spiritual laws.

Because of this some adopt a splendid hypocrisy, wherein they ignore civil procedures while amassing their fortune, but as soon as they have their hoarded pile they become very, very interested in the very same civil procedures they once so blithely ignored. Few onlookers buy this double standard, (though some will nod and put on an agreeable face, if paid a high enough salary). Gradually the hypocrite experiences a dawning, painful to behold, wherein they move from calling others suckers to realizing who the sucker actually was.

It turns out civil society is based on spiritual laws involving fairly simple concepts, such as being a good neighbor, and that it is better-to-give-than-receive. Some lawyers might scrutinize the scriptures of various lands and say it is only better-to-give-than-receive ten percent of the time (because “tithe” means “ten percent”), but nearly all religions include the concept of “charity”. However it is when examining the concept of “charity” that the most horrendous hypocrisy and most stupendous violations of spiritual law are seen.

The simple fact of the matter is that you are not supposed to get richer if you give. If you have a hundred credits and give ten percent, you are suppose to only have ninety credits left. Therefore you should be highly suspicious if you notice the giver winds up with three hundred credits. That money is coming from somewhere, and more often than not it is stolen from the very poor the charity was suppose to be helping in the first place.

I will not belabor you with countless examples of people who claim they are spiritual, and helping the widows and orphans, the sick, the oppressed, and those in prison, yet who wind up wealthier, even as those they claimed they would help wind up worse off. I’m certain you can think up examples of this gross hypocrisy on your own. What I would like to propose is that such behavior is actually the antithesis of charity, and a major violation of spiritual law.

It seems to me that, just as an engineer cannot mock physical Truths, people who work outside the sciences cannot mock spiritual Truths. In both cases the mocker will face a day of reckoning. Brown stuff will hit the fan. In the case of do-gooders, fewer and fewer will be persuaded by the altruistic arguments of the ones who claim they do-good. People disbelieve that glib altruism, when the speaker resembles a fat tick bloating off the lifeblood of a nation.

Rather than depressing you with examples of people involved in Global Warming discussions who resemble fat ticks, I think it would be less depressing to revert to contemplating young artists, and their losers-are-winners attitude.

When you come right down to it, art is very rarely a way to get rich. For 99.99% of all artists, giving the gift they were given is a form of charity, for the artists does not see much material gain. Even if they get some money thrown into their guitar case, as they play on a sidewalk, they could likely be making far more money hammering nails at a construction site. And many others do not play, or paint, or compose, or write, in public at all. They sing for their family, or friends, or in a church choir. They give for the joy of giving. That may be why poets are defined, in Sufi humor, as “proud beggars”.

This underscores the fact that the benefit of art, and all gift-giving, and all charity, is not a thing measured in dollars. Unfortunately, a very few artists, perhaps .01%, are so amazingly good that they do make piles of dollars. In my generation the example of this was the Beatles. By being successful they inadvertently gave the other 99.99% the false hope that they too might someday be millionaires, and “winners”. However the Beatles made their money by being more honest than most, and one truth they dared to sing was that that they were not the winners they appeared to be.

I sure wish I got paid millions for publicly confessing I’m a loser, but it hasn’t worked out that way for me, or for the other 99.99% of all artists. The real “pay” for art is in the joy of giving. This is why we speak of “playing” a guitar rather than “working” a guitar. The funny thing is that when you inform many young artists that they will not get paid as much as the Beatles for playing, they say, “Then the heck with it,” in which case they were not really artists. They were in it for the money, which makes them con artists. (Other artists get a Real Job to make money, but continue their art for joy, which is described by saying they have a “vocation” and an “avocation”).

The fact of the matter is that there is a distinction that needs to be made between the Arts and Sciences, but many of my generation failed to make it. Somehow they got it into their heads that giving should make you materially rich, and that charity should be profitable. What is more, they took steps to make charity lucrative, even though that violates spiritual law and is strangely grotesque, like a nursing mother with coin-slots on her breasts.

One .01% artist was Bono of “U2”, who became rich and famous enough to be asked to give the commencement address at a major American university, and he told our youth, “Every age has its massive moral blind spots. We might not see them, but our children will.”

I think that future generations will look back at Baby Boomers, and will be stunned by our delusion that giving should gain the giver material wealth. It doesn’t. The wealth gained through giving is measured in joy. However so insistent are some that money must come from charity that they will ignore all the evidence so freely given by Reality, when one foolishly ignores physical and spiritual Truths. Truth will not be mocked, but when faced with the complete bankruptcy of their beliefs, some will just print more money.

“Just print more money.” Isn’t that the sign of a counterfeiter? To me it is also the sign of a bad loser, who can’t even admit that he or she lost the game with Truth.

(I could give countless examples from the history of Global Warming Alarmism of how individuals have lost the game, both in terms of physical laws and spiritual laws, but as this essay is already too long, I’ll leave the giving of specific examples to others.)

(Anthony Watts graciously posted this essay on his site:  http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/02/07/a-note-about-bad-losers-and-global-warming-on-super-bowl-sunday/ )

ROMANIANS AND BRITISH AGREE: WINTER IS ONE MONTH EARLY

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

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

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

Crudely translated, the report states this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS   …MEANWHILE, HERE IN NORTH AMERICA…

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

PPS   …Meanwhile, in Russia…

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

Where snow cover was established?

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

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

LOCAL VIEW -Hurricane Joaquin-Updated Wednesday morning

It is hard to get properly alarmed about hurricanes any more. Sooner or later we will get clobbered, and no matter how much warning is done before hand, the storm will be reported as coming either “without warning” or “with little warning.”

For what it’s worth, here is a warning I wrote for WUWT in 2012, which contains quotes from an earlier warning I wrote for Accuweather in 2006:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

After so many years of warning people, I feel like a hybrid cross between Chicken Little and The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  “The Chicken Who Cried Wolf”, perhaps.

I’m sick of it. I’m done with it. The simple fact of the matter is, it is too late. All you can do is rush out and buy some milk, along with all the other freaked-out people, if Hurricane Joaquin turns out to be “The Big One”.

It probably won’t. It will probably turn out to sea. Hurricane’s usually do, which is what breeds the sense of complacency, and even invulnerability.  Just before the 1938 hurricane completely trashed New England a college professor, professing to be an authority, announced that “hurricanes could not hit New England”, (for some reason it is best we forget). In that case a major hurricane hadn’t hit New England in over a hundred years. And, as it hasn’t been a hundred years since the 1938 hurricane, Joaquin probably won’t hit us.

If it does hit us, it will follow these three steps. One, it will mill about to our south, growing strong. Two, it will turn north and, still strengthening, start to take the characteristic accelerating path to the northeast and out to sea. And Three, “without warning” it will, accelerating even more, hook back to the northwest and clobber New England.

The amount of time the public will have between step 2 and step 3 will be around six hours. As you go to bed the late night news will be reporting the hurricane is heading out to sea, and when you awake the winds already will be rising. I’m convinced that, given the correct set of circumstances, not even the billions spent on satellites and computer models make all that much difference. (It might be interesting to plug the information we have concerning the 1938 hurricane, or Hurricane Carol in 1954, into our modern computers, and see if they recognized the threat 12 hours before New England got pummeled.)

When young I walked woods where all the rotting tree trunks lay in the same direction, and have seen those trunks slowly rot away, until now you can barely make out a long line of moss where the trunk once lay, and a low pile of stones where the roots once were torn from the earth. The forest is now full of pines over sixty years old. It is hard to believe the entire woods was flattened in a single hour, by Carol.

Some of those woods are now full of houses. I’m tired of coming across as an old crab, telling people their idyll is doomed. They worked long and hard to come up with the down-payment, and continue to work long and hard to come up with the mortgage payments, and the doom might not come in their lifetimes. Who needs some chicken crying wolf?

Of course, doom might come next Monday. But in that case it is likely too late to do much more than buy milk, ice, (and toilet paper. Don’t forget the toilet paper.)

I myself have a generator, plenty of containers that will hold plenty of gas, and a wood stove I can cook on, and firewood, and pigs and goats to feed the neighbors with, after their milk goes sour when their coolers run out of ice.  (But I’m not sharing my toilet paper. One has to draw the line somewhere.)

So I am just going to sit back and watch, to see if Joaquin heads out to sea or not. This post will contain updates, (and also poetry, which some flee from faster than they do hurricanes).

Hurricane Joaquin 2 HUIR(5)20151001 satsfc

(Click maps and pictures to clarify and enlarge.)

Currently the stationary front would seemingly protect the east coast. The problem is that low off Florida. If that digs into the upper atmosphere it can change the “steering currents,” and a hurricane headed safely northeast out to sea can back to the northwest.

To the south again lurks the hurricane
Making mockery of idyllic palms,
Balming breezes, and sweet rum that calms pain
Served by babes in grass skirts. Instead a bomb’s
Hidden in the wrapping paper. The south
Holds no mercy for the north’s limping troops.
Poison brims the bloom sipped by the bee’s mouth.
Youth tastes time and grows gray and stoops.
Low moaning’s in the music, a background
Full of ominous portents of doom.

Is this then the harvest? The crop found
By one who bouquets the wrong sort of bloom?
Love we should sow, but the world is insane
And builds on a beach before a hurricane.

MONDAY MORNING

Hurricane Joaquin 1002 HUIR

500 AM EDT FRI OCT 02 2015

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS JOAQUIN MOVING SLOWLY NORTHWESTWARD AS IT
BATTERS THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS...
...HURRICANE CONDITIONS TO CONTINUE OVER THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
TODAY...


SUMMARY OF 500 AM EDT...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...23.3N 74.7W
ABOUT 20 MI...35 KM NE OF CLARENCE LONG ISLAND BAHAMAS
ABOUT 50 MI...80 KM SSW OF SAN SALVADOR
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...130 MPH...215 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 315 DEGREES AT 3 MPH...6 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...935 MB...27.61 INCHES

Hurricane Jiaquin 1002B uv900_swath_nest3__2_(1)

Notice how the model swings it back towards New England before curving it out to sea. That makes a fellow nervous.

AFTERNOON MAP

It is still just sitting down there, nudging ever so slightly north. 20151002 satsfc

SUMMARY OF 800 PM EDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...24.3N 74.3W
ABOUT 25 MI...40 KM NNE SAN SALVADOR BAHAMAS
ABOUT 795 MI...1280 KM SW OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...125 MPH...205 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 40 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...943 MB...27.85 INCHES

I’d hate to be holed up in the central Bahamas right now. Sustained winds of 125 mph, and Joaquin is only slowly crawling away. At least in New England a hurricane comes plowing through at top speed, and is in and out before you really know what has hit you.  The 1938 hurricane was moving at over 50 mph when it clouted New England, but Joaquin is only moving at 7 mph.  By the time it finally moves away they won’t have a palm tree left. God help them.

At least it is moving NE, away from land.

SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE 

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE JOAQUIN CONTINUING NORTHEASTWARD
TOWARD BERMUDA...


SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...28.0N 68.9W
ABOUT 385 MI...620 KM SW OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...130 MPH...215 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 50 DEGREES AT 20 MPH...31 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...944 MB...27.88 INCHES

Now is when the hurricane starts to accelerate harmlessly  (unless you live on Bermuda) out to sea, and everyone goes to bed unsuspecting. The “Big One” will shock people with a very different forecast in the morning, but that only happens 1% of the time.  Sleep well.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE

...OUTER RAINBANDS AFFECTING BERMUDA...
...DAMAGING WINDS EXPECTED ON BERMUDA LATER TODAY...


SUMMARY OF 800 AM AST...1200 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...30.4N 67.1W
ABOUT 210 MI...340 KM SW OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...115 MPH...185 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 35 DEGREES AT 21 MPH...33 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...956 MB...28.23 INCHES

Joaquin continues to head out to sea, but I’m not lowering my guard quite yet, as our steely gray skies and east wind have given way to blue skies with an east wind, which means the high pressure is coming down over us. This is great if it shunts the hurricane out to sea, but bad news if it manages to get in front of the hurricane. In the upper atmosphere map below you can see what the computer model imagines we will see tomorrow morning. (Dr. Ryan Maue map from Joseph D’Aleo’s site at Weatherbell.)Joaquin 4 ecmwf_z500a_noram_7

The above map shows the low pressure off Carolina and the high pressure ahead of Joaquin which, in a worst case scenario, could sling it northwest. Those much wiser than I are fairly certain it will “escape” northeast, though Joseph D’Aleo states those on Cape Cod shouldn’t entirely lower their guard quite yet, and they will get some good surf.

A weirder solution would have Joaquin slow and do a loop. One of the weirdest solutions I have seen occurred in 1971, when I was about to sail south on a teenager’s misadventure.  A hurricane named Ginger headed out to sea, and then stopped, and spent a solid week slowly backing west and making a mess of all sailor’s plans. But that is a story for another time. I’ll just say I’m glad I’m not out on a boat this October 4, in the waters of Buzzard’s Bay heading south, as I was that October 4. Sometimes being an old man looking at maps and satellite pictures isn’t all bad.

Joanquin 4 HUIR(7)

SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE

...RAGGED EYE OF JOAQUIN PASSING JUST TO THE WEST OF BERMUDA...
...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS CONTINUE ON THE ISLAND...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...32.2N 66.4W
ABOUT 95 MI...150 KM W OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...100 MPH...155 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...958 MB...28.29 INCHES

It is swerving slightly back towards land, but no one seems the slightest bit concerned, as the the westerlies are coming south to the north, and also the storm is weakening some.  

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE

Winds shifting a little south of east, here in New Hampshire, with only the crescent moon and bright Venus able to shine through a thin layer of strato-cumulus coming inland from the sea. Some higher clouds remotely seen through this lower deck, coming from the southeast. I’d be more nervous if wiser men weren’t certain the remote possibility of a sneak-attack-hurricane has faded away.  Joaquin likely will curve east and make a beeline for the Azores, but it currently is swerving just a little towards the NNE to see if it can get me to flinch.

...JOAQUIN EXPECTED TO MOVE AWAY FROM BERMUDA TODAY...


SUMMARY OF 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...34.1N 65.2W
ABOUT 125 MI...205 KM N OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 25 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...964 MB...28.47 INCHES

MONDAY EVENING UPDATE

SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...35.8N 64.0W
ABOUT 245 MI...395 KM N OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 30 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...964 MB...28.47 INCHES

TUESDAY UPDATE

...JOAQUIN SLOWLY WEAKENING WHILE ACCELERATING NORTHEASTWARD...


SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...38.3N 59.6W
ABOUT 665 MI...1075 KM SSW OF CAPE RACE NEWFOUNDLAND
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...80 MPH...130 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 55 DEGREES AT 18 MPH...30 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...974 MB...28.77 INCHES

Today Joaquin made up its mind and hitched a ride on the Westerlies across the Atlantic towards England.

20151006 satsfcEven as Joaquin vanishes off the right margin of the map that describes New England’s world view, Old England sees it appear on the left margin of the UK Met map describing their world view:Surface pressure chart - Forecast T+12 - Issued at: 0800 on Tue 6 Oct 2015

The UK Met has what is left of Joaquin running along the north coast of Spain next Sunday, so I may update this post a few times more, though it isn’t really a “local view”

However at this point I should likely tip my hat to the forecasters who had the nerve to go out on a limb and guess where this dangerous storm was going to go, especially Joe Bastardi over at Weatherbell, who did the best I saw, even though he did adjust is forecast from up-the-coast to out-to-sea. He made his adjustments before others, and all in all did an amazingly good job of predicting what cannot be predicted.

I stand by my guns, when it comes to the fact that one of these days one of these storms will look all the world like it is going out to sea, and then will swerve back northwest and shatter the windows of Boston’s skyscrapers while ripping just west of town, heading north at 50 mph. However even a blind squirrel can find a nut. I will be wrong 99 times before I am right once, as a guy like Joe Bastardi is right 99 times before he is wrong once.

But when I’m finally right, won’t I ever get the spotlight!  Headlines written by idiots will suggest I’m a better forecaster than Mr. Bastardi.  And me?  Hopefully I’ll have the brains to milk my day in the sun, and wind up nicely tanned.

In which case you should tap me on the shoulder, and remind me I am just an Eeyore.Eeyore rsz_eeyore61_5881_5847

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

SUMMARY OF 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...40.5N 49.4W
ABOUT 465 MI...750 KM SSE OF CAPE RACE NEWFOUNDLAND
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...ENE OR 75 DEGREES AT 32 MPH...52 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...977 MB...28.85 INCHES

WEDNESDAY NIGHT UPDATE

...JOAQUIN HAS BECOME A POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE...
...THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY...


SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...42.0N 37.0W
ABOUT 595 MI...960 KM WNW OF THE AZORES
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...65 MPH...100 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...E OR 80 DEGREES AT 35 MPH...56 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...977 MB...28.85 INCHES

Surface pressure chart - Analysis - Issued at: 0800 on Wed 7 Oct 2015

Current forecasts show a greatly weakened Joaquin sliding along the north coast of Spain and then ducking south along the France-Spain border into the Mediterranean by next Monday.