I try to see the bright side of things, and one nice thing about having an elderly mother-in-law to care for is that, even at age seventy, I still get treated like a young whippersnapper. Of course, this also means that like Rodney Dangerfield, “I get no respect”, and it can be a bit wearing at times.
I tell her not to walk her dog up to a dangerous curve on a nearby country road, especially when it is narrowed by snowbanks after a storm, but later look up the road and see traffic stopped up at the curve, and even a front-end-loader stopped in a driveway beside the road with its scoop full of snow, as an elderly woman slowly crosses the road right on the curve with her alarmed little dog (who knows better) in tow. Her eyesight is bad, and this causes her to scrunch up her forehead and look cross even when she isn’t cross, and this apparently made people afraid to blare horns at her. In any case, she has proven no young whippersnapper is going to tell her where she can walk her dog.
Multiply this by twenty times and life starts to get draining. By fifty and she is almost as exasperating as the government, which seems to want to take a system that worked and utterly screw it up.
Lately life has left me feeling drained. It didn’t help matters that they stole an hour of sleep from us last Sunday, with the nonsense of Daylight Savings Time. Then we got hit by a major snowstorm. My wife and I were so worn out that a very nice Saint Patrick’s Day dinner we had on Saturday was in some ways just more work.
We sat down on Sunday and tried to plan a vacation, but even that made us tired. A sense of absurdity kicked in. When even vacations make you tired, perhaps you are nearing a sort of world-weariness some state is spiritually advantageous. I forget how the quote actually goes, but it is something like, “When even opulence makes you weary, your heart is making space for the Lord to walk in.”
When my wife and I got home after dark something happened worthy of a sonnet. Maybe it wasn’t a “sign” but I’m certain a Viking would call it an “omen.”
We're a couple old fools who have flunked a test.
Though we both make our bed we seldom get rest.
We try to treat all like they are a guest
Yet stumble and fall while doing our best.
We drove home in darkness. Silent was night
And our drive looked the same, lit by our light
But into its beams flew a shadowy sight:
An owl, with wide wings braking its flight.
It lit just above us, wisely looked down,
And melted away my face's sad frown.
Why should we interest this soul of the air?
What had we done? And why should it care?
I have no answer, but cannot refute
That souls from above us do give a hoot.
In jackstraw-sunbeams stray, bright flakes sail
As the chilling winds wail through the wires.
I chisel at walkways, cast salt from a pail,
And throw extra oak on all the fires.
Winter drudges on. Half the woodpile's gone
Like an hourglass running out of sand,
And though the days lengthen, it seems each dawn
Breaks colder, and that hope's fires I fanned
Went out. Sap's stopped running into buckets
By maples, and I tire of the many
Sounds of snow, hardly heard as a truck gets
Angry at ice. Some snow makes barely any
Sound at all. It starts silently falling
And men make the whining with all their stalling.
I thought that if we saw brown outs this winter they would be the sort that afflict an over-stressed electrical grid, due to Fraudulent Biden’s weird war against the middle class and fossil fuels. Instead it was a far more pleasant brown out, brought on by the melting of nearly all white snow. The benign pattern (unless you operate a ski resort) had storms passing to our west, swinging warm fronts past us and placing us in a warm southwest flow. When secondaries formed on the cold front or as “skippers” on warm fronts they never bombed out until safely out to sea.
In the map above the high pressure to the right is what I call the Bermuda High (though modern sorts seem to now call it the Southeast Ridge) and it is separated from the Azores High by a mid-Atlantic trough which has seemingly stolen all our thunder so far this winter, sucking in the biggest storms and coldest air. Our arctic air tends to be in that lobe of the Bermuda High extending north of the warm front, and has a hard time coming west as a back door cold front. However the above map has an actual arctic high coming via Calgary and the Alberta Clipper route, which suggests the brown out may not be forever and we had best enjoy it.
Lydia, my last surviving goat, decided she could leave her hay-pile and heat lamp in the shed and check out the garden, for some dried corn stalks, which she for some reason relished.
Goats like to be part of a herd, and Lydia doesn’t like being the last goat, and seeks a new herd when possible at out Childcare.
We definitely had rebounded from our cold shot, and hats and mittens were discarded all over the hillside, but a glance at the long range forecast warned another shot was in the works.
The high temperature of 39 on Tuesday was for early in the day, and the forecast snow was for late in the day, so everyone planned accordingly. Personally I planned to use the last of the brown out to load the porch and woodboxes, without annoying my wife by tracking snow all over the place. But, the best laid plans of mice and men…
And just like that the brown out was over. The question was, would this inch of fluff be swiftly melted by a resurgence of southwest winds?
Judging from the long range forecast above, a brief resurgence might have been expected Wednesday, but cold seemed to be pressing. The Bermuda High, suppressed to Florida in the map below, is in a fight with high pressure either side of Hudson Bay which, rather than being blithely pushed east, is starting to dig in its heels and do some pushing, showing signs of turning into a “blocking high pressure” which prevents lows (such as the one over the Great Lakes in the map below) from cruising north, but rather squishes them southeast, often as secondary “skipper” developments along the coast (as is the case in the map below.)
What happened was that low over the Great Lakes dissipated to a blip that barely gave us a flurry, as the coastal feature rocketed east to become a mid Atlantic Storm, which is what has happened over and over this winter, but the front it left behind was very different. It was a long warm front to the next storm, moving out of the Rocky Mountains. Formerly the Bermuda High would have whipped that front north, but now there was formidable Canadian High Pressure to the north, and even a weak cold front pressing south over New England. Battle lines were being drawn.
Yesterday provided just enough of a window to stack wood with a minimum of mess to my wife’s floors, but the blue sky grayed and by evening a silent snow was falling. By this morning I had three and a half inches of snow and sleet to shovel, and Lydia goat was nowhere to be seen. Smarter than I, she was basking under her heat lamp.
We have been spared the more brutal side of winter (so far) but there have been a couple of cold shots, brief reminders we’re not off the hook. They are like a left jab in a fist fight, quick and then gone, but you notice you are a bit dizzy.
The cold air really has had to work to reach us, as the pattern wants to divert it all out to sea. A couple of maps will demonstrate how the cold air had to back track from Baffin Bay, rather than taking the normal route down the east slopes of the Canadian Rockies from Alaska. Then cold swiftly is sloughed off to the east, and we are back into a more benign southwest flow.
The first map shows a bombing-out low in the upper right corner, in Baffin bay, delivering much of the arctic air associated with it into the Atlantic east of Labrador, but a little is leeching west into the northern lobe of a mostly moderated high (“polar” rather than “arctic”) which is following a mild storm crossing New England. Because New England is in the warm sector, and because the following high pressure is not particularly cold, the weather bureau had to be on its toes to alert people to the sneaky cold coming around the top. They did a good job, but people still got caught off guard. Sneaky cold is called “sneaky” for a reason.
My own experience was perhaps typical. At 2:30 we were still enjoying near-record warmth at 55 degrees, (12.8 Celsius), and I was enjoying walking around fifteen pounds lighter because I wasn’t wearing my heavy coat and snow pants and bulky boots. I didn’t want to bother with that stuff if I didn’t have to, and thought I might get away with it. What could go wrong? I had only two and a half hours before the last child would be picked up, and then I’d be free for the weekend.
Yes indeed, as I thought that, there was, if not an ominous drum-roll, an actual, distant roll of thunder to the north. The clash between cold and warm was creating midwinter thunder, which is always a delight to me, but not a very good sign if you expect balmy weather to continue.
I mentioned to a teen-aged intern working with me that we might want to get rain-gear and warmer clothes, and she scoffed, and I said I’d be right back. I’d left most of my winter garb at home, but did locate an enormous mad-bomber rabbit-fur hat, and a couple of huge mittens, and walked back out looking like a slender lollypop with big hands. At age 70 I don’t care what I look like as much as I care about staying warm. However the teen-aged intern did care about looks, even though the wind was starting to whip cold showers and the temperature began dropping like a rock. My head and hands stayed toasty, but the rest of me quickly got drenched and cold.
Soon sleet began mixing with the rain, but also sunbeams. A big, high rainbow arched across the purpled sky. The wind gusted so strongly it even lifted the soddened leaves, which had been flattened by snow but exposed by the thaw. Most of the kids delighted in the crazy weather, staying warm by racing about in some sort of fantasy brawl involving sticks that were lasers, and fleeing many pursuing invisible aliens. However one little toddler felt the sucky weather sucked, and wanted to be picked up and held.
Both the intern and myself could commiserate with the toddler, because we had shared her sickness, due to a thoughtless mother who had dumped the little child off when the child should have stayed home, early in the week. We had comforted the child then, both had caught the child’s cold, and then the intern stayed home a couple days as I worked at less than a hundred percent, and now we were comforting the child for the final forty minutes before her mother came to pick her up, as the wind whipped and sleet pelted and wet leaves swirled.
I gallantly unzipped my wet coat to wrap the toddler, (but actually confess it warmed me as well), and attempted to distract the child from the misery we were midst. The rainbow worked. For around three minutes. Then I sent the child in with the drenched intern to help another intern do the end-of-week cleaning indoors.
Then I turned my attention to the other children, who were not bothered a bit by the abysmal weather. As they raced about I kept myself moving. The cold isn’t so bad if you keep moving. I picked up sticks the wind had blown from trees and put them by the place we have campfires, and picked up the gloves and hats kids were leaving strewn about. As their parents pulled into the parking lot I alerted the kids it was time to go, and handed them their hats and gloves. They all looked radiant. I felt ashen gray. Sometimes the last ten minutes of a Friday is the longest. I was shuddering, and wet to the skin.
But then the final parent came, and hip-hip-hooray, I was done! I headed home and skipped my usual Friday beer, opting for a half-shot of brandy. Then I loaded both fires, and even turned up the propane heat, but I couldn’t stop shuddering. It was 28 degrees outside, (-2 Celsius) which meant it had dropped 27 degrees in three or four hours, but it was 72 inside, so why was I still shuddering? Hmmm…
When I was young my mother, a trained and “registered” nurse, had a dread of something called a “relapse”. To my great annoyance, she would make me stay in bed a full day after my temperature returned normal after a sickness, to avoid a “relapse.”
Apparently relapses were something nurses had learned about during the Spanish ‘Flu. If you hopped out of bed too fast, you could wind up back in bed for an extended stay. Or die. I found the concept somewhat mysterious. Relapses only seemed to be a danger when I felt fine and could hear my friends playing outside. On Monday mornings, when I felt awful and did not want to go to school, there was never any danger of a relapse and I got booted from bed.
However now it seemed I was experiencing a genuine relapse. I had babied myself through some ailment all week, and was on the road to recovery, but then had stood out in arctic blasts looking like a lollypop with large hands. My mother was likely rolling in her grave, if she was watching, but hopefully heaven doesn’t look backwards.
I knew I must be feverish when I had absolutely no desire for beer, and just desired bed. Basically I slept like a rock Friday night, snoozed all Saturday, shivering, (except for spells after taking a couple aspirin when I felt wonderful waves of warmth). I only arose to tend fires and use the bathroom and ingest chicken soup. (My wife later informed me the teen-aged intern spent her Saturday the same way, which made me feel a bit less like a frail, old fossil.)
Despite sleeping Friday night, and most of Saturday, I slept right through Saturday night, and now am bounding back, revived. Can’t remember when I last slept so much. And now I look at the weather maps to see what I’ve missed.
The north winds that gave us our cold shot (with temperatures to 17 [-8 Celsius] Saturday morning) are now relegated to the upper right corner of the map, up in Baffin Bay, and again are pumping the cold air down into the Atlantic to our east. And again we are in the benign southwest flow, and could again see temperatures in the fifties tomorrow.
And that’s pretty much the news from here, except for a bit of thinking I did while feverish. I likely should quit here and make this like a Lake Wobegone post where “all the children are above normal”. In fact I’ll make a break below, so readers can bail if they wish to avoid an old man’s cantankerous rambling.
My feverish thinking involved all that cold air that has been missing us, and chilling the Atlantic. I’ve noticed the water isn’t as chilled by those winds nearly as much as I expected. Not only here, but on the far side of the Pacific, civilized areas have been spared the wrath of winter as blasts of cold air have been diverted out to sea. Yet the seas show little sign of being cooled by months of blasts, except at the very edges, where the sea-ice extends outwards a bit more than usual.
You can see the extended sea-ice in Baffin Bay, or in the Sea of Okhotsk on the Pacific Side, but only spots of blue east of Japan or south of Greenland. The air doesn’t really effect the water. However the water hugely effects the air.
Joseph D’Aleo wonderfully described the amazing and explosive power warm water has when cold air moves over it in a paper he wrote. I urge the scientifically inclined to seek it out, but I’ll just nab a couple illustrations from the paper which demonstrate the power the ocean has to generate super-storms. The first illustration shows cold air like a lid on a hot ocean.
The second shows when the lid is blown off and so-called “bombogenisis” occurs.
As I lay in bed thinking it seemed, to my feverish common sense, that water should have more power than air, because air is dispersed molecules bouncing about far apart, while water is densely packed molecules close together. In terms of molecules, air is hugely outnumbered by water. When cold air tries to chill water, you have a lone cold molecule taking on ten-thousand warm molecules. But when that same warm water tries to warm cold air you have ten-thousand taking on one. Who do you suppose will win such a battle?
The water will win, unless the water is chilled to a point where it is water no more. Once sea-ice forms, the air is no longer utterly changed by the ocean. But away from sea-ice air is utterly changed. It is not only warmed, but is supercharged with the most potent of greenhouse gases, namely water vapor. In the above illustration the air is not merely warmed, but also moistened.
Though my locale has been spared this winter, I have studied what I call “fisherman maps” of the Atlantic and Pacific, watching the amazing storms few care about because they seldom effect us. Each of these storms demonstrate water having a huge effect on air, as air, to be honest, has a minuscule effect on water. While it may be true winds whip up water, it was the water’s warmth and moisture that made those winds in the first place. Water wins, in terms of power.
Such super-storms are not rare. It is actually rare to have a pacific “fisherman map” as storm-free as today’s…
…which has no storms and only two gales. But note it has three “developing storms” and two “developing gales”. Winter brews storms by sending cold air over warm water, but the power is not in the cold air but in the warmer water.
Lastly, the power sent aloft by super-storms is not merely some sort of insipid water vapor, as if water vapor was an “inert” greenhouse gas. Water vapor also holds energy, though it is “latent energy”. It is not heat-energy measured by a thermometer, nor wind-energy measured by an anemometer. Rather it is latent, and lurking, and able to perplex and confuse all who downplay water vapor, in favor of any gas which holds no latent energy. Such as?
Such as CO2, which makes up a small part of our air. Only one in 2500 molecules in our air is CO2, and all the changes to levels of CO2 people fret about do not change that “one” to “two”. (320 ppm to 420 ppm may change “one” to “one point three”, but it remains a tiny fraction of 2500).
As I lay in my sickbed I wondered who could believe one molecule in 2500 could warm an ocean when an entire arctic blast could not chill it. Instead the ocean warmed the arctic blast, and turned its bone-dry air into a super-storm drenched with moisture.
If air is so slow to change the temperature of water, and water is so quick to change the air, why would we look to one 2500th of the air as a reason the water has warmed?
The oceans have warmed for the past sixty years, which should lead to an out-gassing of CO2, because warmer waters are less able to hold dissolved CO2. Even so, that out-gassing is a minuscule amount among greater gases that also have a minuscule effect, as air is outnumbered, in terms of molecules, compared to water. Also, if oceans are warmer, they must also be “out-gassing” more water vapor, which happens to cancel out much of CO2’s “greenhouse effect”. Yet all of this is like fretting about a flea on a stallion. The true big kahuna is the sea.
The argument that a tiny, trace gas controlled the enormity of our climate demanded, from the start, overwhelming evidence, because the idea basically sounds nutty. It was as nutty as the idea of drifting continents. You had better get your ducks in a row before you propose continents drifting about. But in the case of drifting continents scientists got their ducks in a row. In the case of Global Warming scientists just got nasty, which divorced them from science, so they were not scientists any more. Instead they just became nutty. Maybe to some degree richer, but nutty. Maybe to some degree holding prestigious positions at universities, but nutty. Perhaps holding some backroom power in government bureaucracies, but nutty.
Being somewhat nutty in my own way, perhaps I have a word of warning to rich nuts in prestigious positions of power. You can bully and bullshit all you want, but, as a “childcare professional” I must sadly inform you, you are transparent to the young. The young are not merely impressionable clay you can mold with nutty propaganda. They innately recognize a lie by the dead way it makes a heart feel. Then, because you represent a dead way, they will turn away from you, hungry for life, hungry for something that does not involve money or prestige or power, but what could that be?
Hmm…It seems I heard, through the fog of my fever, some sort of murmuring about some sort of stirrings of a “revival” someplace called Asbury…
…But of course you insist those “revivalist” folk are silly. What is not silly is to believe one molecule out of 2500 of already-thin air warms the mile-deep oceans. Or so your Nuttiness insists.
Begging your Nutiness’s pardon, but perhaps you do not know how you look, through the eyes of honest youth. You say what? CO2 is a poison gas but air by derailed trains is safe? Can you have actually said that? Need you have your nose pushed into it like a dog?
An interesting aspect of Global Warming is that, when you scrutinize the statistics, it turns out the increases are never where ordinary people would notice them. Not that people would notice a single degree of temperature change, but such overall, world-wide changes largely occur either where people don’t live, or when they are asleep. Most of the warming that sways the “world average” occurs in the arctic, where very few live, or at night, where the daily low can be a higher low than usual.
In other words, when you read that the (much altered) statistics for the United States show a recent period was the “warmest ever” (or since records have been kept), it does not mean we are sweltering like the poor farmers did during the Dust Bowl. Daily high temperatures are nowhere near as hot as they were in the 1930’s. Nearly all the high temperature records were set back then. How, then, is it warmer? It is warmer because it does not get as cool at night?
Night before last we had an opportunity to set a new record for the warmest low temperature for the date, due to being wonderfully placed in the current pattern. A storm was bombing out just east of Labrador, (at the right edge of the map below), but the discharge of arctic air was largely to our east, and the cold likely was more of a concern to the coral isle of Bermuda than us. Why? Because an actual Bermuda High, associated with balmy summer days, had formed, bracketed by the Newfoundland storm to our east and a Great Lakes storm to our west. We were nestled in a southwest flow, seen in the isobars of the map below.
I am to some degree excited by setting records, albeit in a cynical way. On one hand I don’t think setting records shows any “trend”, because we largely only have records going back a hundred years, which means, all things being equal, each year has the same one-in-a-hundred chance of setting the record. On average the odds are that every place should set between three and four records a year.
However Concord, New Hampshire has records going back to 1869, 154 years, and to set a “record low high” there would be good click-bait for my blog, which needs all the help it can get because I am Shadow Banned, for I don’t subscribe to the politically correct balderdash about Global Warming, (and several other politically correct balderdashes.)
While I confess it is pretty cynical to see things in terms of whether they are “click-bait” or not, I also confess that I myself am attracted to what is sensational more than what is merely everyday, although sometimes the everyday is more praiseworthy.
Even in ugly events, we gravitate towards the war in the Ukraine and the earthquake in Turkey, and ignore lives being wasted in our own communities due to the ugliness of various types of everyday ignorance. Generous people will give to help people far away, even while ignoring people trapped by lingering bitterness right next door.
In wars and in natural disasters, there are examples of heroic behavior that restores our faith in the goodness latent in all people. I sometimes wonder what heroic behavior would look like in my neighborhood, without a war or natural disaster. Might it not be as simple as reaching out to a discouraged neighbor and giving them courage? Such behavior might not make the newspapers, but is praiseworthy and does not go unnoticed in heaven.
One reason I persist with writing, even though Shadow Banning has proved highly effective in my case, is because I’d rather be noticed in heaven than on the front pages of Fake News. Also, being fake just doesn’t appeal to me. It just seems so…so…so fake. What really seems sensational is Truth…which causes trouble even in First Grade.
In any case, to get back to being cynical, I was a bit excited we might set a new “record high low” as I slumped in my armchair by the stove, after a long day at my Childcare. I briefly scanned the Fake News about shooting missiles at weather balloons after they had completed their spy-missions, and telling people poison gas from derailed trains was safe but CO2 was a poison gas. Nuts. Then I turned to the weather maps, which are more exciting simply because they are the Truth, and also I like any weather events that are out of the ordinary, for they reveal what the ordinary does not.
In the balmy (for winter) southwest wind the temperatures didn’t drop as the sun did. In Concord the “record low high” was 40 and the winds kept temperatures up near 50 (Fahrenheit). It seemed unlikely the temperatures could drop ten degrees. But then…..(drum roll)…..the wind died.
If you look back up at the above map you will notice New Hampshire is still back towards the crest of the ridge of high pressure, and not yet under the cloud deck of the advancing storm, nor fully in its southwest flow. Therefore, for the start of the night, “radiational cooling” could occur.
Radiational Cooling is Truth, and therefore very cool. Without going into Plancke’s Law, or long-wave versus short-wave radiation, it basically is the fact a clear sky at night sucks up heat from all below. In a summer heatwave, this is a good reason to leave your house and, swabbed in mosquito repellent, sleep as naked as legally possible on the back yard’s lawn. The sweltering heat will radiate away from you, up into the starry void of outer space. But in the dead of winter this same heat-loss is why the coldest temperatures occur when sky is clear and there is no wind, (and wind non-farms are motionless and produce no power to warm with).
When it is neither summer nor winter, farmers agonize about how frost might destroy their dreams, and often destruction is a matter of less than a degree, brought on by a lack of wind and by radiational cooling.
Radiational Cooling can be amazingly local. I have seen frost on the hood of my truck but not the windshield. I’ve seen it in the lower side of my garden but not the upper. And like all farmers I’ve attempted to intervene, when possible, and to prevent frost from damaging.
One way is to run a sprinkler. Making everything drenched means there is more water to freeze, and freezing water involves the release of latent heat, which occurs during the phase change from liquid to solid, and, when the temperatures are only a tenth of a degree below the freezing point, the release of even a small amount of latent heat can actually save a crop.
Another way is to disturb the dead calm that heightens the effects of radiational cooling. The same amount of heat is lost to a clear sky in a wind, but calm localizes the loss. In some cases frost only forms in still air below the level of your knees, and by burning campfires at strategic parts of your garden you create updrafts, which demand compensating downdrafts of milder air, and again the crop is saved.
This is likely one reason why the phenomenon of “urban heat islands” exists. In the winter, during still conditions, every house creates an updraft just like a campfire does. This messes up the radiational cooling which formerly occurred at that location, and the weather station records higher nighttime lows, even some “Record High Lows”.
However recent studies show that the most dramatic examples of “Urban Heat Islands” occur not in Urban, but Rural, areas. When a place, that once had a single farm house midst fields, has only a few suburban abodes built in those fields, the disruption of radiational cooling is most pronounced.
This does not change the amount of heat in the total atmosphere, but rather stirs the air at the very bottom, so the air by our thermometers can’t measure only stratified, still air at the very bottom, with warmer air out of reach up above, but the rather the same two airs mixed. It looks warmer, but isn’t.
In which case, to return to the topic, I should have had high hopes that a small city like Concord, New Hampshire could create enough updrafting to halt the radiational cooling. But the temperatures seemed to be taking a nose dive down through the 40’s.
I was weary from work, (children can be exhausting) and though I might have liked to have stayed up to watch Concord’s thermometer, my eyelids became like lead. I was a bad reporter and a bad scientist, because I said, “the heck with this” and went to bed.
Being an old man, I had reason to arise in the middle of the night, and as I did I blearily checked the temperature in Concord. Blast. It was 39. It had just missed having a Record Low High. No “click bait” for me. But then I glanced at the clock. It was 1:30 AM. Hope revived. Perhaps it reached only 41 by midnight, which would set a “record low high” for yesterday, if not today.
The house was too warm, despite the wood stoves being shut down to “low”. However I like to keep them going, to “keep the edge off” when the cold returns. (It is easier to keep a house cozy when the furniture is warm.) So I checked the wood stoves between yawns, and one looked like it could use a log, so I stumbled to the porch to get one, and also to check my own minimax thermometer.
As I stepped out I noted the big moon’s light was muted. An overcast of alto-stratus was swarming north ahead of the advancing storm. Also I could hear sighing in the pines, as winds picked up: Far from ideal conditions for radiational cooling. And, when I checked my minimax thermometer, I saw temperatures locally had jumped four degrees, to 46 from 42, (the 42 recorded at an earlier point in the night when radiational cooling was obviously stronger).
But what about Concord? Did their temperatures, down in their river valley, also rise four degrees, from 35 to 39? Or are they far enough north and east of me that the cloud cover and wind hadn’t reached them yet?
This can be determined by people who do not have a business to run, and wood stoves to tend to. But in my humble opinion what it shows is how the records can be swayed by minor local influences other than CO2, and are fickle, even whimsical, and amount to yet another variable, among the too-many-variables we seek to understand, as we seek to understand the chaos called “weather.”
(Anyone who calls our current level of understanding “settled science” cannot tell an ass from an elbow. )
However, for “click bait”, I’ll say the cloud cover and wind did not reach Concord, and that they set a new “record high low.” Yowza! Yowza! Read all about it, here on my blog!
However I will not say this means you need to stop using gas stoves.
Thirty-two years ago, my wife and I ran a lunch counter and snack bar at a small local cross-country ski area, and weather like we’ve been having just about ruined us. Just about every penny we had was invested in food, and cocoa, and just about every bill possible for us to receive through the mail was unpaid. Sunshine has never filled me with such gloom, nor mild weather ever seemed so depressing. We had enough food to feed a small army, so I knew the kids would be fed, and I was young and strong and could cut firewood to keep the house warm, unless I ran out of gas for my chainsaw. I doubted the gas station would even sell me a gallon on credit. My pride was shredded. My faith was slumping.
Then we got snow, and skiers appeared in droves. And they get hungry. It then was such a wonder to me that people would pay a dollar fifty for a baked potato with a dab of sour cream that cost me about fifteen cents to make, and that they would smile and praise me for being so much more “reasonable” than other ski areas that charged three dollars for the same potato.
And we sold things much better than a baked potato. My wife’s chili could raise the dead, or at least the dead-tired skier. And people gladly paid a dollar for a single one of her cookies, which were big but not that big. We made money hand over fist. In a single day we made enough to pay off all our overdue utility bills and our rent. So, I know what it feels like to whiplash from abject poverty to well-being in twelve hours.
The thing that struck me was that I really could not take the credit for the fact that I went from feeling like a weasel to feeling like a responsible father. I did not control the snow. In fact, I was more or less a gambler, and for a while my luck was rotten, and then I hit a lucky streak. And gamblers who escape debt (and the wrath of loan sharks) through a lucky streak are notorious for speaking of “higher powers” who had mercy on them.
You can call such talk “superstition” all you want, but I have noticed that the people who do so tend to be financially secure. They are in a sense cursed, by safety. Where a businessman knows about “risk”, (which is, in a sense, a gamble), the financially secure only are involved with “safe” investments. They “never touch their capital” and “live off the interest”, until they have created a cold universe for themselves where they inure themselves from mercy. Or, they live that frosty way until some financial bubble pops, some market crashes, some thief plunders. Then they suddenly enter the world of “superstition”. Mercy only matters to those who need it.
This winter the mercy I, and others like me, needed was not snow. Rather it was a lack of snow. We did not need cold, but mildness. Why? Because the madness of “green” politics, and its foaming hatred of fossil fuels, was sending the price of staying warm through the roof. If the weather had been merciless, few could have fallen back on using firewood like I am able to do. If we had been hit by a weather pattern such as the winter of 1976-1977’s, things would have precipitated a crisis. The “power grid” would have been overwhelmed. There would have been rotating black outs and brown outs, and also the elderly on fixed incomes simply would not have been able to pay their bills. But did this happen? Not so far. Instead, there has been mercy.
Was it due to Global Warming? Not really. Global temperatures (according to UAH) last January were only a half degree warmer than they were during the ice-age-scare of the 1970’s:
If the weather patterns had taken the form of the winter of 1976-1977, it wouldn’t have mattered much if the temperatures of the frigid blasts were a half degree warmer. Misery would have been worse, in fact, due to the dunderheaded policy of “green” politicians. However, we (so far) have received mercy. The weather patterns have been benign.
Not that the pattern has been truly “zonal” and kept the cold air up at the Pole, for there have been some shots of very cold air to the south, indicative of a “meridenal” pattern, however largely these shots have been into the oceans, and largely have missed the poor people most likely to be harmed. (The poor Kurds freezing after their terrible earthquake being the exception and not the rule. They sure could use some mercy.)
As an example of how the shots miss my area, look at the “fisherman’s map” below:
What this map demonstrates is a pattern I’ve watched over and over this winter. Namely, a weak ripple passes over my neck of the woods but, when it gets out to sea, it explodes into a “DVLPG STORM”. To its north, at the very top of the map, by the west coast of Greenland, is “HEAVY FRZY SPRAY”, indicative of very cold air able to freeze the salt water which a fishing boat plunges through to the boat’s decks and rigging to such a degree the craft can capsize. That extremely cold air is sucked south behind the storm, but just far enough east of New England that we are spared all but a glancing blow.
In the above map the lobe of high pressure following the exploding storm has two sourses. The “H” over Labrador is arctic, and will largely miss us, while the “H” over Cape Hattaras is “polar” and very moderated and includes Pacific-warmed air. That is what we will be getting, in the southwest flow behind the high pressure. (Temperatures below are Fahrenheit, of course.)
Even Saturday’s temperatures are slightly “above normal” for us, so you can imagine the mercy of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. It is destroying our Childcare’s igloo and many snowmen, but the slushy sledding continues, even without sleds, as if children were otters.
And youth can still walk on water:
In other words, due to mercy, the ordinary lives of simple people goes on. The inflation and higher energy bills haven’t ruined people in the area where I live, and it hasn’t been able to do so, at least partially, because the winter hasn’t been as cruel as it could have been. (So far.)
Now here’s the funny thing: Such mercy has no mercy on those who wanted there to be suffering. Some “green” ideologs really want people dependent on fossil fuels to “pay”. Their zeal is so ugly that they think a significant decrease in the world’s population would be a “good” thing, and not involve the ugliness of genocide. And therefore, they are likely very upset the weather has been kindly. They roll their eyes to heaven and cry out, “Have You no mercy!”
Or maybe not. I have a suspicion most are Atheists. It is sort of hard to roll your eyes to heaven when you don’t believe such beauty exists, or to ask for mercy when you believe mercy is a superstition.
At times it amazes me how people prefer ignorance. They miss the amazement I gain, for they have no idea how stunning their stupidity is. In fact they think they are sensible and I am not. They are focused on what “matters” and I am not. They are politically correct, while I find their focus to be based on ignorance, and I prefer Truth. They ruffle wads of ill-gotten loot, and laugh at my honest poverty, but I know who will laugh last.
Rather than discuss the spiritual ramifications of bribery, fraud, and other unethical behavior, perhaps it is easier to keep things simple, and discuss what ignorance misses in a minor and everyday field, such as meteorological maps.
In New England we just experienced an arctic outbreak of “unprecedented” severity. It is “unprecedented” though I can remember worse, for it did set some short-term records, especially atop Mount Washington. Therefore, though the vicious cold didn’t even last 24 hours, and I can remember blasts that went on for weeks, it can be called “unprecedented”.
I accept such events as the simple Truth. They are what they are. However politically correct Alarmists cannot accept such events, because it threatens their doctrine concerning Global Warming, to have even short-term cold records set. Therefore they need to make up malarkey about how warming causes cold waves.
They find some professor attracted by fame to dress in a white lab coat and raise an index finger and make a pronouncement, “Global Warming causes record-setting cold, and therefore record-setting cold proves it is warmer.” Then, after the “expert” makes this inane statement for Fake-news media, everyone nods like crazy, while breathing a big sigh of relief, for they figure they have saved their pet theory from reality. (But the reality is that in the past twenty-five years more record cold temperatures have be recorded than record warm temperatures. In fact the only way to justify the concept of warming is to focus on some exotic metric, such as “nighttime high temperatures” or “warming where it is cold in the arctic, only in the winter.”)
But what of the people who just face reality? Without needing to defend anything? What do they see?
They just see the wonders of Truth, and one truth is that such surges of arctic air out over the warm Gulf Stream sets up an explosive meteorological situation. Joseph D’Aleo wrote a beautiful paper describing how the explosion of “bombogenesis” sets up and then happens, which I highly recommend if you desire scientific explanations, but my more mundane explanation is as follows:
If you move cold air over warm water you are creating a potential for updrafts. The water will create warm moist air which will want to billow up as thunderheads, but at first this power is held in check. Why? Because the cold air is sinking, and has a sort of inertia which keeps the warm air held down. But the warm air builds up more and more power, as the cold air loses some of its ability to oppress the desire to rise which warm air has. And then along comes a tipping point. The warm air is able to rise, usually with the help of a feeble little low pressure system. Then, as soon as the warm air rises a little bit, it experiences factors which make it more buoyant, and rise faster. A shower becomes a towering thunderhead. A minor ripple of low pressure becomes a major gale. This transition happens with such amazing speed it gets called “a bomb”. Or “bombogenesis”. Basically a map that looked innocent abruptly has a deadly feature, “exploding” onto the scene.
And indeed exactly this happened, it the last cold blast. The innocent can be seen in the wake of the cold outbreak, off Hatteras on February 6
And less than 48 hours later storm force winds are northeast of Bermuda, slipping off the edge of the map.
This powerful storm got no headlines, and ignorant people were ignorant of its existence. However it was a close call for New England. Why? Because our knowledge of what steers such storms is not perfect. The weathermen knew 95% of such storms, or even 99% of such storms, head out to sea, so they were not going to raise an alarm. However they are not ignorant, and do know about the 5% or even the only 1% of such storms that “hook back” and clobber New England. Therefore, because it is their duty to care for the rest of us, they sweat bullets looking for the slightest sign the storm is not going out to sea. Meanwhile the general public doesn’t even know the storm is there. They are ignorant.
It is one thing to be ignorant because you are busy in some other area. But it is a completely different thing to be ignorant despite having free time, and to even call the people who are not as ignorant as you are “incorrect”. In this second case your ignorance is not innocent, but has gained power, and your stupidity is becoming magnificent. How magnificent?
Well, suppose it was the 1% situation where a storm “hooked back”, (the Blizzard of 1888 springs to mind.) In only an hour a mild spring-like day darkens and there is sudden thunder, and then all hell breaks loose.
If you are like me you have been carefully attending to reality, well aware of all possible scenarios. When the 1% option starts to become 10% and 25% and then 50%, I am already making adjustments. However the person who not only is not paying attention to what is actually happening, but who also pays excessive attention to scoring political points by mocking those who pay attention to what is actually happening, is not only unaware the storm even exists, but oblivious to a rapidly changing storm-track forecast. Therefore they are likely to be blind-sided. They can be hit without having a clue what hit them. Ignorance is not bliss when you get blind-sided, especially when you get crushed, crippled, or even killed.
I think it is better to gather clues than to have no clue. I understand if you are too busy to gather such clues. However it is very wrong to use some odd snobbery to scold those who gather clues.
Also, if taxpayers support you, expecting you to gather the clues which they have no time to gather, it is wrong to take the money without doing the gathering. Therefore someone should feel ashamed about these two Sea-surface-temperature anomoly maps, from February 3
and February 6
While there are some changes between the two maps, (for example, off the coast of Brazil), large areas of the map are identical. Sorry: Things do not stay identical, in nature. And this is especially true when a record-setting cold blast has howled offshore with frigid winds blasting over sixty miles an hour, off the coast of New England.
The fact the maps are identical off the New England coast makes one map have to be untrue. It also means someone felt they’d done their job by changing the date at the top of the map, and was basically too lazy to change what the rest of the map shows. In essence, the map keeps us clueless. We are paying some slothful bureaucrat to keep us in the dark, concerning Truth.
John Keats said “Truth is Beauty”, but for lazy bureaucrats Truth is a not a close call but a no call. For them ignorance is bliss, because they get paid for not doing their job, (which is to end ignorance by giving us a clue), (but why end ignorance, if it earns them bliss?)
To get paid for not doing your job is the opposite of reaping what you sow. It is a mockery of reality. No good can come from it.
I don’t pretend to have a system figured out, wherein I can predict as well as qualified meteorologists, but I do think it is more than coincidental that as things bump and crash, way up at the top of our planet, there seem to be reflections down below.
There seems to be a mindset that is blissfully unaware we are not Jupiter, and our planet is not stripes of circulation running east to west. Yes, there are certain forces that want to push things in that direction, but we have things Jupiter lacks, which ruin the elegance of lovely portraits of our planet that make it look like this:
That is a very pretty picture, but the problem is the planet nearly never looks like that. Why? Because we have what Jupiter lacks. And what does Jupiter lack (as far as we can see)? Continents. (Maybe Jupiter does have continents far below what we can see, in which case, several thousand miles beneath its upper atmosphere, maybe it does have the cool stuff we have, that doesn’t just run east to west. Maybe Jupiter has it’s Gulf Stream, and we just don’t see it (yet). )
In any case, because we do have continents, and because they are staggered into our northern hemisphere, there are all sorts of obstacles to things like the corollas effect, which want to turn our planet into a boring series of east to west stripes. And, due to these obstacles, we need to avoid a purely east-to-west mindset.
For example, are you prejudiced? Bigoted? Incapable of even thinking that a weather feature south of the equator could ever cross to the north? Are you so set in your ways of east-to-west or west-to-east thinking that it is taboo to keep an eye cocked, (now that we are able to see amazing views of entire hemispheres from outer space), and to see times bumps in the southern hemisphere seemed to coincide with bumps to the north?
I think I’ve seen a couple such coincidences, wherein ferocious Antarctic outbreaks seemed to use the Andes to send cold fronts closer to the equator than we usually see, and symotaniously features appeared on the north side of the equator, so the clouds in the north were actually linked to the clouds in the south. Admittedly, such coincidences have been rare, but they did make me sit up and wonder.
Far more obvious are the occasions where things ignore the east-to-west mindset and come over the top of the globe. We even have a name for it: “Cross polar flow.”
There is a lot of focus these days on the “MJO”, which involves the equator, but, while the MJO is definitely worthy of the attention it receives, it is not the whole “ball of wax”. There are things that push the MJO around. Therefore one must not become too engrossed in the MJO as a sole indicator. Other indicators also have value. For example, a “stratospheric warming event” may bring the MJO to a screeching halt, and move it in a new direction.
“Cross polar flow” is likely a response to other powers, but I’d like to show it might be useful as an indicator, because I used it to actually be right for a change. In essence, when it aimed at me I expected a bullet and ducked, and when it got knocked aside I found it was safe to raise my head. Interested?
O.K. we’ll begin with the cross-polar-flow aimed at me on January 27:
You’ll notice the isobars suggest winds move from Siberia to Canada. Did they continue? Yes. Check January 29th:
The isobars suggest that, despite features shifting, the cross polar flow persisted, and air from Siberia kept ramming down into Canada, which seemed to make it fairly obvious the cold would bulge south to my neck of the woods, which it did. We set records for cold. But even as the cold hit us, the cross polar flow was getting double crossed to our north. The map was changing. By February 5 the map looked like this:
You should note the flow is still cross-polar, but now not Siberia to Canada. Rather it is more Atlantic to Pacific, and therefore it is cutting the supply of Siberian air into Canada. This shows up very clearly in the isotherm map of the pole.
Though the flow is still cross-polar, it cuts the flow of Siberian air into Canada. To the south, in my neck of the woods, the vicious cold stopped. That is my point. Over the top stuff matters.
However to some Alarmists, all that matters is that a feeder band of warmth went north, and the Pole looks warmer. Another spike appears on the temperature graph.
Does it matter? Such temperatures are well below freezing.
To me what matters is whether it will be freezing down south where I live, in my neck of the woods. Forgive me. But I forgot about all about sea-ice when my own pipes are freezing.
After I thaw my pipes, then maybe I have the time to sit back and wonder: What will a double crossing flow do to the sea-ice?
Well, it may make me warmer down south, but it sure looks like it halts, for the time being, the usual flushing of sea-ice south through Fram Strait. Instead it redirects sea-ice the opposite way, into the central arctic. As a huge gale brews up in Fram Strait, no sea-ice will be heading south.
The current movement of sea-ice could change again tomorrow, and likely will. I’ll be watching, but actually that is not the subject of this post. What this post is about is that, when you look at the above map, the isobars do not go east-to-west or west-to east, but over the top.
It makes a very big difference, in lands to the south, whether the over-the-top is from Siberia to Canada, or from Atlantic to Pacific, but much of this is unseen by computer models which are largely designed to only see latitudinally.
We decided not to cancel our weekend trip north to see grandchildren in Maine, despite all the weather bureau’s dire warnings, basically because we’ve seen worse in our time. This “direct discharge of arctic air” was definitely a danger to all who were forced to be outdoors, but we’d be in a car with a heater, on well-traveled highways, and there was no snow in the forecast.
As usual we had to shift scheduals about to even get a half day off on Friday at the Childcare we run, and by then the blast was already hitting. Temperatures had stayed up in southwest winds until the cold front came crashing through around 3:00 AM, and then temperatures dropped from 27 degrees to 14 by dawn. (-2.7 to -10 Celsius). There was a squall of snow as the front came through, but that snow never seemed to settle on the ground, but just whirled about as wraiths of white all morning. Nor did temperatures rise. Every time I looked it was a degree colder, down to 9 degrees (-12.8 Celsius) by 10:14 when I got off work to tend to fires at home.
I loaded the stoves, closing the drafts so they’d burn slow, and raised the temperature of the back-up propane heat, and set up an electric heater in a bathroom and in the cellar to avoid frozen pipes in the drafty old house. (Our utility bills for the next 36 hours will likely be higher than all of January’s). Then, after swiftly packing an overnight bag, my wife and I hit the road a little after noon, with the temperature at 8 degrees (-13.3 Celsius) and the wind steadily 20 mph with much higher gusts, and a wind chill of -11 (-24.4 Celsius).
The main problem with the drive north was the winds shoving cars, so that all the traffic was swerving slightly. North of Portsmouth there was a crash that had involved at least three cars, including a car flipped over, in the southbound lane, with around five miles of traffic backed up (on a three lane highway) behind it, but we ran into no problems heading north. The temperature only dropped a degree back at home, but it had dropped to 5 degrees (-15 Celsius) in Portland, despite that city being by the ocean. As we arrived the winds were steadily at 23 mph with higher gusts roaring in the street-side trees. It was interesting to look out to sea and see the cumulus puffing up ocean-effect snows. Or interesting while looking out the window of the warm car. As soon as I stepped outside the only thing I was interested in was getting through a front door.
The second-story apartment was in a 150-year-old farmhouse, but the structure was newly insulated, and stayed warm and wonderfully free from drafts, and my granddaughters commanded my interest. Even if you weren’t interested, they demand it, and I actually am interested. It was nice that they could run around a warm place half naked, thanks to fossil fuels, yet the entire time I could see, out the triple-pane windows, wraiths of loose snow swirling in the brilliant sunshine, and smoke streaming sideways, straight as a clothesline, from neighboring chimneys, and hear the trees roaring even through the muffling walls. One mighty blast made the structure creak slightly, (which you sort of expect from old farmhouses, just as you expect skyscrapers to sway a little in gales, when you’re on the upper floors.)
As soon as the final orange flare of sunlight dipped below the twilight horizon the temperatures plunged again, and by 8:00 it was -9 (-22.8 Celsius) with a wind chill of -36 (-37.8 Celsius). Checking my phone, I could see back at home in New Hampshire it was three degrees warmer, at -6, with a wind chill of -29. The blast was peaking, between a 952 mb low bombing out over Labrador and a 1042 mb high pressure parked over Virginia.
Overnight it chilled less by the ocean, and by morning it was -11 (-23.9 Celsius) in Portland, while my phone informed me it was down to -17 (-27.2 Celsius) back home in New Hampshire, but when I stepped outside, though it was officially colder and just as windy, I imagined I could feel a tangible change.
When I had to work outdoors I often noticed this change, but never have been able to identify it. Perhaps there is a slight change in the dryness of the air, but it is hardly noticeable in terms of relative humidity. The air just “feels” different, and is less cruel. The old-timers I once worked with used to just look up, smile slightly, and say, “Feels like the cold’s broken.” Then, even it wasn’t all that much warmer, the cold simply felt liked it had relented and was less merciless. Ever since I’ve always wondered if there is some metric, other than temperature, humidity and wind speed, we haven’t learned to measure yet.
By afternoon the temperature was up to 7 degrees (-17 Clesius) and the winds were slackening, and it just felt like an ordinary, cold winter’s day.
Next the warm front on the west side of the high pressure in the above map is suppose to start effecting us, and the temperatures will actually rise overnight, and be over 40 tomorrow (4.4 Celsius). The blast will be past.
One thing I’ll be watching for is the effect this rush of cold air will have on the sea-surface temperatures off our coast. They have been above-normal, but the sub-zero blasting gales not only will churn the surface, but lead to some up-welling of colder waters from the depths.
But beyond that, unless you were in a car that wound up upside down on a major highway, the blast didn’t seem particularly terrible, though it may have set records on top of Mount Washington, at -47 degrees the lowest ever recorded up there, and, at -46, with a wind gust of 106 mph, achieving a windchill of -107 (-77.2 Celsius) which would be a new record for North America. (Old record was -105 in Alaska). However we don’t suffer like the old-timers did, with our warm cars and warm apartments (if we have them). Count your blessings, and include fossil fuels.
P.S. I’m back in New Hampshire, and despite all precautions the pipes are frozen somewhere between the well and the kitchen sink. (The bathroom works, which is the important thing.) Such inconvenience is to be expected, when you are foolish enough to have bought an abode built before people had kitchen sinks. A 250-year-old house has it’s “charms”, but warmth is not one of them.
One pity of modern conveniences is that some people, who live in the lap of luxury that modern conveniences provide, often have no idea what life is like without them. In many ways I feel fortunate to have lived with people in places that hadn’t yet got electricity. For them the way they lived was not “inconvenient”, but merely was the way it had always been.
For Al Gore the “inconvenient truth” is that he has never lived that way. I wish that, for his sake, he could experience an arctic blast such as we have just experienced without the benefit of fossil fuels. It wouldn’t kill him. He has blubber. But after twenty-four hours I’ll bet you that he’d be whimpering, “Fossil fuels! Fossil fuels! Please give me fossil fuels!”
There is a growing hubbub locally, regarding a shot of pure arctic air coming straight towards New England. I’m feeling a bit smug, for I have been insinuating as much for two weeks. I’ve been one of those sour old men who scowls when the weather is lovely, and who seems like a wet blanket on any festivities. Sorry about that. But allow me to defend myself.
For one thing, I’m not really scowling. My eyes are just bad. What I’m actually doing is peering. I’m scanning the horizons for thunderheads, because, for the second thing, someone’s got to be on guard while the rest of you party-animals whoop it up. Thirdly, if you really want to bum-out a party, remind everyone that someday we’ll all die. I’d just rather it be later than sooner, so I’m always watching for the next problem, (and the next problem may be that I get thrown out the door.)
Muttering various things about cross-polar-flow and direct-discharge-of-arctic-air may not be a way to be the hit of a party, so I try to do it wearing a lampshade on my head and tap-dancing on a table, which seems to be a TV weatherman’s way of getting attention. But extreme cold can be serious, though it is rare south of the border. People north of the border in Canada, or up in Alaska, know extreme cold can kill, and are less liable to take it lightly.
In New England things have to line up just right, and Hudson Bay needs to be frozen over so its waters don’t warm the winds from Siberia. The winds have to come from the north, so the Great Lakes don’t warm them to the west, and so the Atlantic doesn’t warm them to the east. Also coming straight from the north tends to align them with the north-south undulations of the landscape (which makes rivers run mostly southwards, and lakes like Lake Champlain long and skinny, north to south.) By coming down long valleys the winds avoid bopping over hills, which would have a warming effect and turns cold winds into watered-down, east-coast versions of a west coast Chinook. But, if the winds avoid all warming and meet this north-to-south criterion, they become what old-timers called, “The Montreal Express”.
Often, but not always, such a discharge of arctic air is on the west side of a departing storm system. The current scenario is of the rarer sort, where the outbreak is primarily due to the configuration of an upper air trough.
The chief discussion among meteorologists seems to be whether the Great Lakes can generate enough uplift with their unfrozen waters to make the trough “U” shaped, which will make the discharge less direct, or whether the trough will be “V” shaped, which is most direct and a worst-case-scenario. Then there is a brief but nearly total breakdown of those southern powers that ordinarily keep the north in check, and ordinarily push back against the north. Instead, the north pours south, as if a dam had burst.
It isn’t the cold that kills you as much as it is the wind. A roaring wind can make temperatures behave far colder than they actually are. You can walk about in a minus-ten calm without fear of frostbite, but when winds howl frostbite can occur with nasty speed. And, should you be foolish enough to be caught out in such a wind, with no shelter to flee to, death can soon follow.
For this reason, the local weather bureau is doing its best to scare everyone indoors on Friday night and Saturday. I’d obey, but I’ll have to go out to feed the goat and chickens. You’ll seldom see an old man move faster.
In the meantime, we watch the blob of Siberian cold moving slowly down the west coast of Hudson Bay
And we look at a map that ordinarily might not seem all that threatening
And, to be honest, I’d ordinarily be more worried about that small low over North Carolina coming up the coast and blowing up into a surprise snowstorm, though currently any snow it makes looks like it will be light and stay south of us
But, like I began this post by saying, I’m always scanning the horizons and scowling. Actually I should stop that. Instead I should be praying for survival. We humans are basically hairless creatures designed for warm places like the garden of Eden. How did we wind up in a landscape that wants to kill us?
But then I consider the smallest winter birds: The titmice, juncos, nuthatches, chickadees. How can such minute balls of fluff survive in these bitter blasts? They are not much bigger than spit, yet they survive where spit freezes before it hits the ground.
Cruel winter entertains a kindly mood.
I walk at night without a scarf, as eves
Drip and icicles shorten. Still, I brood
As moon carves bluet sky to dawn. Thaw decieves
My skeptic side. Day brings the chickadees
Out from hiding, daring to hop on twigs
Exposed, though last week a bitter breeze
Could have killed them. They flit and do their jigs
And sing their lie, "Spring soon," and I wonder
How such diminutive fluff balls survive
The cold. Did our Great Creator blunder?
With winter huge, can small warmth stay alive?
Yes, they do, and it fills me with hope
For this world's a big chill and I'm a small dope.