The map shows yesterday’s hot and humid air driven out to sea, and the front rammed clear down to Georgia, yet it managed to pass under us. We didn’t even get a sprinkle. I was a bit amazed, watching it happen. You could see the cool air clash with the hot, and brew up a squall line that NOAA noted for its longevity, and Joseph D’Aleo posted on his superb blog at the Weatherbell site. (The picture overlays many separate radar shots of the same squall line.)
If you follow the direction the red arrow points you can see the energy passed well south of New Hampshire. We just had a muggy morning gradually dry out, without a sprinkle of rain. I headed off to a barbecue in the early evening, and everyone was wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts, as the shadows from the trees at the end of the lawn gradually extended over and the warming sun was lost. Then someone remarked, “Sheesh! is it ever cold!”
I looked around, and noticed everyone was hugging themselves. It was like it hadn’t penetrated anyone’s consciousness that a sunny July evening could possibly be cold. But it was downright uncomfortable, and as soon as people woke to the fact many headed off to cars and came back wearing summer jackets. I’d come in my wife’s car, and had no jacket, so I got so close to the grill I was practically in among the steaks. As soon as the meat was done we moved indoors.
The good thing about such cold shots in the north winds is that often they don’t last long. I’ve seen winter days when the temperatures fall all morning and you expect the cold to become extreme with the advent of evening, but instead the cold wave relents, and temperatures don’t drop after dark, and can even rise a degree or two. However those are winter events. In July you only expect to don a jacket when east winds bring fog and drizzle inland from the cold Gulf of Maine. You don’t expect it when it is sunny and the wind is north. I can only assume this shot from the north contained a packet of air from Hudson Bay, which still has a surprising amount of ice on it, for the middle of July.
By this morning that shot of cold was long gone. Rather than Hudson Bay the wind was from the Canadian Prairie, baking under long summer days and barely cooled by short nights where the twilight never completely fades. However the shot of cold activated some instinct in me, and I got out of bed thinking I should get going, in terms of firewood.
Now is the time to lay down the less desirable trees, and to let them lie as the leaves suck the sap from the wood before withering. Then cut them up. Then split them. Then stack the wood to dry in the summer sun, so they don’t hiss in the stove, wasting heat boiling off sap, but burn clear and hot.
Dream on, old man. You are sixty-two years old, and it will take you a week to do what you once did in the morning.
Now I do stuff sort of as an exhibition, for the children at our Farm-childcare. “This is the way things were done a long, long time ago.” However it does not seem so long ago to me.
Not that I ever used a cross-cut saw. However there is a film of the center of this town after the 1938 hurricane, with trees down left and right, and not a chainsaw is in sight. All the local folk are out at either end of cross-cut saws. Some look like they are out of practice, but all know how to use such saws, how to always pull and never push. It is amazing how swiftly they cut through the logs.
I do remember when people built houses with hand tools, with saws and hammers and drills that had no batteries or cords or pneumatic air lines. It did take longer, but the men were stronger.
In the 1700’s the average worker burned off over 4000 calories a day. Few men work half as hard, now. Now we expect weekends off, but farmers never had weekends, for milk cows don’t stop making milk on Saturdays and Sundays, and chickens don’t stop eating.
The strange thing is that some think we are worse off. We work less and have more leisure, but they take their leisure and use it to gripe, often complaining they work too hard, or aren’t paid enough, or are hurt emotionally and should not have to work at all.
Idiots. I just wish I could still work as hard as I once did. God knows there was a glory in it, and someday I’ll write a book about it. But tonight I’ll just think about those men of the past, who worked twelve hour days, full of faith in a thing called “progress”, and believing we would rejoice to have the things they lacked. I’ll look back a half century, to when I was twelve and knew nothing of work, and didn’t like the prospect of work much at all, until I saw old men loving it, and became curious about what could be so good about it.
Free wood is seldom free. The gnarled apple
Really required a pneumatic splitter
And I had but a maul, but youth will grapple
Ridiculous tasks: I was a hard hitter
And relished each victory, each split log
And the sheen of sweet sweat; the impossible
Challenge; the twisted, bumpy, Dryad-eyed frog
Of old apple attacked, wedges buried full,
But struck with a final karate scream
And torn open like a closed-case, long-shut book:
A hundred-fifty years of history
Lay exposed to the sun…Long time it took
For that scythe, hung in fork of young tree,
To be swallowed by growth, a tool forgotten
But a man now recalled, though flesh be rotten.