LOCAL VIEW —The New Year—

I’ve taken some time off to take stock of my situation, which can be a difficult thing to do when four out of five grown children descend on the so-called “empty nest.” Actually the situation is more aptly described as “my chickens coming home to roost.”

I like it in many ways, for I’m an old rooster myself, however it does involve a lot of interruptions to the flow of thought. I need at least a few hours a day to simply allow my swirling mind to settle. Usually I manage it by staying up late, but so do my kids. I found a way around that by developing handy insomnia, and being awake between two AM and five, however one side effect of having lots of chocolate around at Christmas is that chocolate makes me sleep like a log.

My wife and I decided we needed some time away, however we couldn’t afford flying to Florida, or even a night at a bed-and-breakfast, so what we did was turn our childcare into our resort. It was closed on New Years Day, so we went out to eat on New Year’s Eve and then, instead of going home, we headed to the childcare-farm and spent a quiet night there, followed by a quiet morning which extended into the day, and the next thing we knew the sun was going down and the kids were calling my wife’s cell-phone, worried about us.

Fortunately there has been a lull in the weather. Actually it was not exactly a lull, because the high pressure that came crashing down from Canada was enormous and well worth making a fuss about. We were on the northeast side of the action, which meant we got day after day of dry northwest winds, and only an occasional disturbance passing over and giving us a few wandering snowflakes. The Christmas mildness faded away, the mud froze, and then the sheer dryness of the air resulted in a lot of sublimation, and the frozen mud dried on its surface, and leaves scurried around the brown pasture in the wind. (Click maps, or open to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)

20141231 satsfc 20150101 satsfc 20150102 satsfc 20150103 satsfc

As the huge high pressure pressed south it moved over milder earth that lacked snow-cover and which warmed it, so that the heavy air grew less heavy, and less like a pressing high pressure, until now the western side is actually starting to rise and become low pressure at the surface. A great blob of moisture is starting north from the mild Gulf of Mexico, up the west side of the weakening high pressure, but the northern side of the high pressure remains cold and strong enough to put up a bit of a fight, turning the rain to snow in the north.

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I’ve been expecting this sort of mess to come north, and in fact have been surprised that there hasn’t been a storm. Quite often a giant high will breed a giant storm, but this one was so huge it squashed the last storm like a bug, and the flattened corpse slid out to sea, which was fine with me. However it looks like we won’t be so lucky with the next one.

I’ve taken advantage of the fine weather, (which has been tantamount to a sort of drought,) and have managed to cut some wood and shift it about. Yesterday I had some fun with the few kids who were at our Childcare on a day-after-New-Year’s-day, (many parents get the day off,) and they sat in the back of my pick-up truck as I rattled about over the frozen pasture, lugging wood in for the pasture campfire and the upstairs stove.

If I split the wood out in the woods the pieces are light enough for the children to hurl into the truck, but I was feeling a bit stiff and sore from splitting at home, and also in a hurry, so didn’t split the logs and I couldn’t employ the kids. The logs were too heavy. In fact when I looked at them, and considered heaving them up onto the tailgate, they looked a bit heavy for me. Not that I couldn’t do it, by I’ve learned to be lazy in my old age. It seemed the rounder logs might as well be rolled, and the kids could roll them. So they rolled all the rounder logs down the hill to the pasture campfire, and had good fun doing it. (The deal was that if they helped, I’d give them a ride in the back of the pickup.) Now we have a heap of round logs down where I can split them as I need them, for the pasture campfire.

Next we headed a bit further down the pasture to where I had cut up some lovely dead maple that was bone dry. Where a standing tree can continue to suck up a surprising amount of moisture even when it is dead, this one had snapped off and fallen into a fork between other trees during a summer thunderstorm, which kept it five feet above ground, horizontal, and wonderfully easy to cut into logs with my chain saw. I didn’t even need to bend my old back as I cut. I used a wheelbarrow to move these logs to my truck, (where I would have carried them when younger), and the children insisted on helping. Most of the logs were too big for them to hoist, but they had quite an argument about who got to roll the empty wheelbarrow back to the cut-up tree, and I had to be the judge and decide who got the next turn. When the pickup was half full they’d all pile aboard for the ride back to the barn, and all get out as I reached the fifty yards of public road, (as it is illegal to have children in the back of pick-up trucks on public highways,) and then wait for me to return with the truck empty for the next ride back and the next load.

It always surprises me what fun the children think this is. It doesn’t seem to occur to them they are working, and I can guarantee they will brag to the other children when they come back from vacation on Monday about all they missed, and the other children will slouch and feel staying home and playing video games in a warm house was not “where it was at”.

The goats came out to join us. They like an open winter, as they don’t like wading through deep snow and usually sulk beneath the barn, but now could poke through the brown leaves for the stray acorn squirrels have missed, and nibbling the green boughs of pines and hemlocks. They like having humans about as they seem to know it will keep the coyote at a distance (and they don’t seem to know the bear are snoozing in caves.)

As the dark fell it seemed everyone had a good afternoon, despite the fact there was no sledding on Christmas vacation.

After reaching record extent in November, the snow-cover has retreated to a degree which I think is average or even below average for the start of a year, but now is starting its January advance. The maps below show December 29 snow-cover (top) and January 2 snow-cover (bottom), and how the snow is all the way to Texas due to the huge high bringing cold south, and snow to Tuscon, Arizona and the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Snowcover 20141229 ims2014363_usa Snowcover 20150102 ims2015002_usa

I imagine the snow will be here by Monday, despite all the warm air surging north. It’s a bit much to hope for another Christmas rain. There was simply too much cold air brought south by the huge high, and also more cold air is coming right on the heels of the warm-up. We could be below zero by Wednesday.

The Great Lakes have again started to freeze, after actually thawing a bit during Christmas.

20150103 lice-00

However, with so much of the water open, the lakes will buffer us from the really cold air. The warming of the air crossing Lake Michigan shows up with wonderful clarity in this Dr. Ryan Maue map I lifted from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at Weatherbell, which shows the sub-zero air (-18° Celsius) as gray within the navy blue of single-digit cold, and charging us from the west on Wednesday. (Click to enlarge.)

20150103 gfs_t2min_conus2_23

The problem for us will be when the winds shift more to the north on Thursday. Then the Lakes no longer are upwind, and Hudson Bay is frozen over and only warms arctic air slightly through the ice.

I think I’ll go buy a couple bags of coal. We have a tiny coal stove to supplement our three wood stoves, in the coldest nights. (I don’t trust the propane heat, after the brown-out we had last week.)

I need a warm house, to continue work on my novel. (A subject for another post.)

 

 

 

 

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LOCAL VIEW —WORST WINTER EVER—(A Synopsis) Updated

I figured a sensational headline might get you interested.

I looked over at Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at Weatherbell, and got a bit of a shock. Despite the fact we are midst a “warm spell,” the European model is printing out three storms next week. I can only suppose “warm” is a relative term, and “above-normal” can still be below freezing and still produce snow.  It may only amount to three inches in Boston, but if you look at the map below you will notice a lobe of higher amounts sticking down into south central New Hampshire, which would mean that these hills got over 28 inches. Yikes!  Now I understand why Joe Bastardi calls this pattern the “Heckuva Way To Run A Warm Up Pattern.”

Worst ecmwf_tsnow_ne_41(3)

This brings back a memory from when I was young, involving the way old-timers would worry when it got warm during the winter. Severe cold didn’t bother them much, because they would simply say “It is too cold to snow” and get on with their work.  However warmth promised snow, and snow was a bother and a nuisance, (and rain would bring muck and slush that would freeze and be worse,) so they would crumple their brows when the weather got nice.  It didn’t make a lick of sense to me, for to me the nice weather made the snow sticky, and be better suited for making forts and conducting snowball wars.

People now don’t need to work outside so much, but they still furrow their brows when the weather gets nice. They think it suggests Global Warming is occurring and the sea will rise and drown Boston. It still doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but perhaps it is best I don’t go there.

In any case, the current computer models are showing a mild spell, but the above graphic demonstrates that might not keep this from being the worst winter ever. Therefore I will continue to record the storms, as if this might be an event people in the future would want to read about.

You people in the future might be interested to know that we people back at this time still had little idea what lay ahead, despite an amazing arctic outbreak in mid November that buried towns on the shores of the Great Lakes in as much as seven feet of snow, and also a rare Thanksgiving snowstorm. The waves of arctic cold were countered by waves of resurgent mildness, and the snow-cover that blanketed the land all the way south to Texas retreated back to the Dakotas often enough to allow us to entertain the hope the heart of the winter might not be all that bad.  You know if we were fools, but at this point we don’t.

Tonight we are experiencing the resurgent mildness. We had a snow-eater fog earlier, and now the low clouds are hurrying above, lit by a waxing moon that occasionally peeks down at the pines that roar up in the heights. The west wind brings a cold front this way, but we still hear the sounds of thaw, as the last of the snow and freezing rain that encrusted the trees this morning plash to earth, and eves drip. The roads are bare and the foot of snow that fell over Thanksgiving has shrunk to a dense inch, with bare patches on south-facing slopes. The temperature peaked at around 46, but has only fallen back to 41, as the pressure continues to fall even as the snow-event moves away, now down to 29.86.

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The lake -effect snow behind the cold front, shown by the radar, suggests the air is below freezing. Remember that below-freezing can be above-normal, now that we’ve reached the month of December.

If I’m looking for stuff to worry about I look up to the southwest of Hudson Bay, at the second cold front bringing arctic air in our general direction. Then I look to the very bottom of the map, at what seems to be a tropical whirl appearing south of Jamaica.  (Believe it or not, New England’s 400 years of weather history does contain a few references to what they called “snow-hurricanes.”) At the very least, a glob of tropical moisture coming north could add punch to a nor’easter.

Actually I’ve got a bad case of the sniffles to worry about.  It seemed to be getting better, however after cleaning up slush this morning I’ve been laying low, pampering myself just a little. I did go and buy some Italian chestnuts so the children can understand the song with the lines, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Jack Frost Nipping at your nose…”

It’s funny how it once sounded cozy and romantic to have Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Now it just makes me worry my nose will turn blue.  When I was a boy I never much liked old guys with blue noses.

While pampering myself I got bored, and decided I should prepare a list of snow events that occurred during the “Worst Winter Ever.”

WORST WINTER EVER SNOW EVENTS

  • #0 November 3  Just missed us to the east; coastal nor’easter. Caused concern just before the Patriots-Bronco’s game, but field was cleared up before game time.
  • #1 November 14  Mini-nor’easter. 1 inch, melted by noon.
  • #2 November 17  Trace of snow changed to freezing rain, then rain. Primary low over Hudson Bay with secondary right over us.
  • #3 November 19 Dusting from Alberta Clipper bringing Arctic Outbreak #1 and amazing lake-effect snows by Great Lakes; only a few flurries made it this far east.
  • #4 November 23 Dusting at the very start of a mild surge as a storm moved up to the Great Lakes and then northeast through Quebec.
  • #5 November 26 Thanksgiving Storm. 12 inches. Formed on cold front trailing down coast from #4. Just barely below freezing, and little wind.
  • #6 November 29 Norlun Wave that formed behind Thanksgiving Storm. Followed by brief Arctic Outbreak #2. Temperature 3 degrees in Jaffrey.
  • #7 December 2 Another secondary on front dangling from a mild-surge storm that passed well north, over southern Hudson Bay. 1 inch followed by freezing rain, then rain.

There.  That’s a fine start to a worst winter ever, especially when I think back to milder Decembers when people were worried whether we’d have a white Christmas or not. I can remember one year, either 1991 or 1992, when it was in the sixties in December and I was hired to do some last minute house-painting. The way some are responding to the recent computer model’s ideas of a warm-up, they are expecting similar warmth this December, however when I look at the European map of snow totals by a week from tomorrow, I doubt much house-painting will be seen in New Hampshire.

UPDATE  —Take your pick—

Insomnia has me up at 2:00 AM, and I thought I’d take a look at what the computer models show for next Wednesday.  The American (GFS) shows fair weather for New England, while the Canadian (JEM) shows a howling storm.  The fascinating thing is they start out with roughly the exact same data, and come up with such wildly differing solutions. (The American map is on top and the Canadian on the bottom. (Click to enlarge.)

Pick gfs_precip_mslp_noram_53 Pick cmc_precip_mslp_noram_27

(Maps created by Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.)

LOCAL VIEW —Warm Sweeper—

Today the wind was kindly, from the southwest and, if not warm, not cold. Temperatures were a little over 50, (+11 Celsius) and the snow wilted away. I sat in the sun and basked, feeling more thankful than I felt on Thanksgiving.

One thing I don’t fully understand is why the warm fronts have such trouble pushing north into New England, while other times they rush past and all the way up to Labrador. In theory I know it has to do with the upper air pattern, and whether the troughs ripple around the planet or lock in place and stand still, but that is just theory.  Reality is down to earth, and, because I know how cold air can refuse to budge week after week, it seems wonderful when it does budge.

Though this is a break in the cold weather, all the ups and downs in temperature tend to give everyone colds. I’ve got one, and it felt good to relax in the sun today.  My body feels the exercise I’ve gotten recently, shoveling snow and splitting firewood, and though I’m sure it is getting me in shape the transitional shape I’m in sad shape, and enjoy a good slouch.

We’ve gone from having a foot of snow to having about two inches. The snow-cover maps show the snow again retreating north. The maps below are from five days ago (top) and today (bottom).

Snowcover 20141201B ims2014331_usa Snowcover 20141201A ims2014335_usa

 

The maps also give an idea how swiftly Hudson Bay is freezing over. It is ahead of schedule. Once it is iced over our north winds get colder.

The weather map shows the storm that passed far to our west has traveled over southern Hudson Bay and is now stalling way up in the right corner off the north coast of Labrador.  The warm front whisked through  without even a sprinkle, though it did make some rain when it caught up to the cold air north of Maine. The following cold front is catching up to the mild air’s moisture, and the radar shows a bit of snow in the middle of the USA.

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Although this is the seventh storm, it is hard to call it storm #7 when we haven’t gotten anything but mild breezes and sunshine.  Perhaps I’ll skip numbering it, unless a secondary on the front dusts us with some snow.

 

LOCAL VIEW —THANKSGIVING SNOW? MILD AT THE MOMENT—

Quite a lovely rush of mild air swept over us yesterday, after the day began with a cold rain and temperatures down close to freezing. I didn’t mind the chill as I’d picked my smoked bacon and ham up, at the slaughterhouse in Troy, and was using the back of my truck as a sort of refrigerator, because the refrigerator in the house is crammed with stuff for Thanksgiving.

It was 36 when I drove the 6 five-year-olds to kindergarten, and then I went home to test out the fresh bacon for breakfast.  It was delicious, but then the after-effects of insomnia hit, and even though I had a ton to do I lay down to listen the lulling drumming of rain on the roof, and the next thing I knew it was over an hour later and the low sun was beaming through the window into my eyes. I headed into the cool kitchen for a second coffee, and stepped out onto the porch, and it was ten degrees warmer outside than inside.  (62 versus 52) (17 vs.11 Celsius) A warm front had swept north and past us.

It was hard to take the winter storm watches seriously when the kind wind was ruffling fingers through my hair, but I managed to potter about, putting the smoked meat from the back of the now too-warm pick-up into the freezer, getting some late carrots from the thawing soil in the frozen garden, dismantling the box I built in the back of my truck when I moved the pigs, moving the lumber into the stall to repair the goats stables with, instructing the fellow who came by to tow off my youngest son’s car to the shop to be fixed, loading the porch with firewood, all the while in a dreamy mood due to the mildness.

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Even after dark it stayed mild. The family is starting to gather for Thanksgiving, and we had a fresh ham for dinner with six adults and a baby at the table. (I never seem to get to enjoy much empty-nest-syndrome.) A lot a talk was about the coming storm, even as we were in T shirts due to the heat from the oven and the nearly completely closed-up wood-stove (which has had the same fire burning in it since mid-October.) I checked the computer and saw that at the Weatherbell site Joe Bastardi had noted the NAM model had upped the snow amounts:

Thkz3 Screen_shot_2014_11_24_at_9_40_56_PM

Now I’m up at 2:00 AM with my typical insomnia, and it is still mild, with hazy starlight. It is nearly impossible to imagine that in 24 hours it is suppose to be snowing heavily.  It is 57 out, (14 Celsius) and 64 (18 Celsius) down in Fitchburg, a half hour south of here in Massachusetts. The cold front won’t get here until around daybreak. Even though I can see the backlash snow well west of here, north of Chicago on the radar, and can see the first hint of low pressure down in South Carolina,  it is hard to think the storm won’t be rain.

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Considering worry is something I am all too good at, it seems odd I am doing such a bad job of it.

The mildness has chased the snow-cover north, and it has retreated greatly from its record-setting levels of only five days ago, when it was just north of here and clear down to Texas. However the west side of Hudson Bay is freezing up swiftly. The warmth never got up that far.

Snowcover 20141125 ims2014328_usa

 

LOCAL VIEW —THE COLD HOLDS—

20141121 satsfc

This morning’s map shows the weak storm #3 has passed to our north. The window shows the first hint of orange dawn to the clear east, with temperatures at 21 (-6 Celsius) despite a lack of snow cover to assist radiational cooling.

The hope in the map is the warm front towards the Canadian Rockies. A Chinook has made it across the Divide, and may interrupt the arctic flow from the north. However we are still in the arctic air.

The orange dashed line extending back west from Low #3 to the Great Lakes is a trough, created in part by those relatively warm lakes dimpling the high pressure with rising air and low pressure at the surface. That rising air creates the “Lake Effect Snow” which is making the news.  Though the snow is in narrow bands, where it falls it has approached record 24-hour snowfall totals of near six feet.

Imagine one day you have only a little snow in your yard, and the next morning you look out and see this:

Buffalo-snow-buried-house-jackie-parker-223x300

At your workplace 20 miles away there is no snow. Will your boss believe you?  Probably not.  He will demand you show up for work. So you open your front door and see this:

Buffalo 2 West-Sececa-NY-snow-Jessica-Marie-225x300

It looks like it will be quite a job to get to your job.  It is enough to make a weak willed person despair. However fortunately there is something strong deep within the heart of men that refuses to despair, or…well…maybe it despairs for a while, but then gets bored with despairing. Humor comes bubbling up.  One refuses to be beat by mere little bitty snowflakes.  One grabs their shovel, again opens the door, and:

Buffalo-snow-beer-cooler-unknown

Sometimes the way people respond to calamity makes me happy to be included as a member of the human race.  (These pictures are from Roy Spencer’s site at:  http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/11/that-epic-fickle-shovel-off-to-buffalo-snow-an-all-time-u-s-record/ )

Those bands of snow dried out, as they moved east from the lakes to here, but we did get a few light flurries last night, that made it all the way here.

It is still looking like we will get a thaw over the weekend, which will allow us to either dig out from under feet of snow, over by the Great Lakes, or perhaps get some last minute chores done, before winter sets in for keeps around here.

The weather was cold but much more bearable at the Childcare yesterday, because the winds grew lighter. In the afternoon we built a fire to roast potatoes in, and had to break through and lift a crust of two to three inches of frozen dirt to reach the potatoes.  It was like lifting a lid, and seeing potatoes beneath.

UPDATE

Here is a satellite picture of the clouds blooming up on the upwind side of the Great Lakes, and snowing out on the downwind side.  This should be ending today, but we’ve already had a few flurries from scattered, low, windblown cumulus, which makes 4 days with at least flakes in the air (though none on the ground). That’s all we get from “lake effect snow,”  in terms of precipitation, here 500 miles to the east. In terms of temperature, the air is warmed considerably by its passage over the lakes.

Great Lakes Screen_shot_2014_11_20_at_6_32_40_PM

(This picture is from Dr. Ryan Maue’s blog at the Weatherbell site. He only posts occasionally there, but he posts many times a day on Twitter.)

Dr. Maue also noted that the upper Mississippi River is closed due to ice up by Minneapolis and St. Paul.  This is the earliest closure of those locks since records started to be kept in 1969. Prior to this closure, the earliest closing was November 24, back in 1989.

LOCAL VIEW—JUST EAST OF AMAZING NATIONAL SNOW-COVER.

The snow-cover over the USA is more like January’s than November’s.  It is “unprecedented”, which means it is the worst in a hundred-fifty years, because we don’t have very good records from before the Weather Bureau was created.

The first map below is from before yesterday’s storm and the second is after. The main increase in snow is in northern Maine and along the Saint Lawrence River valley.

Snowcover 20141116 ims2014320_usa Snowcover 20141118 ims2014321_usa

The above maps represent a hair more than half the USA being snow-covered. It absolutely smashes prior records. It isn’t only a little more snow than the prior record. It is not merely twice as much snow-cover “as ever seen before” in November. It is somewhere around three times as much snow as was seen when the prior record was set.

And remember we are talking about records, not “normal.”  Also remember there have been mild Novembers when the snow-cover was only high up in the Rocky Mountains and far north in Canada.  This is an amazing start to what could be a winter to tell grandchildren about, unless, like me, you already have grandchildren who will see it for themselves.  It is something to jot down in your journal, and, if you don’t keep a diary, perhaps it is time to start one.

Not that it can stay this far below normal, and not that the snow-cover can’t retreat north before again advancing south. However snow-cover does create its own cold, while it lasts, and the fact this snow-cover now exists will decrease any warm-up that tries to occur, while it lasts. (I hope snow-cover and cold doesn’t last, and hope you all are annoyed at me for getting you to start diaries, which turn out to be boring.)

Joe D’Aleo was right and I was wrong, about yesterday’s storm. I couldn’t see how the cold could be eroded away, but he said the precipitation would be rain.  The fact it did rain is more proof he is much wiser than I, and that the Weatherbell site his blog is on is well worth the pittance-per-day it costs, (especially when weather isn’t boring.)

However it was a near thing. Only 40 yards up a steep hill behind my house the branches went from being wet to being silvered with ice, and this situation, with light freezing rain just up the hill, persisted all day.  I had to drive ten miles to the next town at one point, and the patch of freezing rain was roughly two miles across, facing east on the slopes of the “Wapac Range” of low hills. Everywhere else it was rain, with temperatures in the low 30’s, and the modern digital thermometer by the visor of my wife’s van often read 33 degrees F (+1 Celsius) which is about as close as you can get, to a winter event.

“At least we don’t have to shovel it.”  I must have heard that five times during the afternoon. No one was in any hurry to go outside into the cold, dark mist, and occasional light, frigid rain. I did have to go out, to deal with my goats.

I was so certain it would snow that I hustled to finish up my goat’s winter quarters and brought them in on Sunday afternoon. I thought they would say, “Oh! Isn’t this cozy!  Thank you very much!”  No such luck. After being free to constantly quarrel and butt each other all summer, they found being parted very upsetting, and bleated to each other in voices that sounded close to panic, and smashed about in the stalls, and two managed to break the brand new hooks on their doors in a matter of minutes. I spent over two hours calming them down. I even used a drill to close the doors with decking screws (to be removed in the morning) to save the eye-hooks. Finally, out of a sort of desperation, I started singing to them to calm them. Darned if it didn’t work. But then I had to sing a ridiculous goat-lullaby (which I’d invented on the spot, and hope no one over-heard), for a solid 45 minutes before they stopped their final, querulous baaing and lay down.

If course, I was late to dinner, which was ring-necked pheasant, Yorkshire pudding, and green beans prepared by my middle-son.  It was pretty good, and must have been delicious, back when it was warm.

Then yesterday morning I hurried to the stables, but was too late. The goats had wrecked the place. So I told them they had to go out in the cold rain. As soon as I opened the door they, who had hated being indoors so much, took one look and fled back to crowd together in a single stall. I’d had it. Out they went. My kindness only goes so far, especially when I have a Childcare to run. The goats made a bee-line to the space under the barn, where they turned and looked at me accusingly with reproachful eyes.

Humans can be worse. I had to deliver some bad news to our church’s preacher at a meeting last night. Basically the dwindling congregation isn’t thrilled by his sermons. It was one of those situations where the messenger gets shot, or else the person pointing out a problem is told that they themselves are the problem.  It was the perfect ending to a dark, damp, drizzly, depressing day.

It was nice to awake to brilliant sunshine this morning, though the bitter cold has returned, riding the back of a cutting breeze. A scarf that was forgotten outside and got wet in the rain, yesterday, retained the shape it had assumed when it fell, stiff as a board, when it was picked up and brought inside this morning. I may need a jackhammer to dig the final potatoes.

I have decided I’ll just number the storms this winter. Yesterday’s was #2. It had enough sleet mixed in at the start to cover a car’s windshield nearly to the top, though it slid off when the wipers were turned on.

I recall reading of a winter in the 1600’s that had 26 storms. I  figure I have only 24 to go.

20141118 satsfc

(Click to clarify and enlarge.)

LOCAL VIEW —BURNING LEAVES—

20141112 satsfc

(Click to enlarge and clarify.)

The cold air has charged south, and it is colder in south Texas near the Gulf of Mexico than up here in southern New Hampshire, near the North Atlantic. At 2:00 AM, as I’m stirred by insomnia (and aching muscles due to leaf-raking,) it is fifty degrees warmer here than at the same latitude in Nebraska, 52 here and 2 there. (+11 here and -17 there, Celsius.)

It’s all coming this way. The snow has covered Canada and expanded down into the northern Great Plains in the USA, (though it has retreated in western Russia.)

Snowcover 20141111 snowNESDISnh__10_

However despite my dread about the approaching onslaught, I actually did live up to my resolution to avoid worry, and to enjoy the benign weather while it lasts.  This stuff has happened before. An article from The Weather Review in 1896 describes warmth on the east coast, as it hit minus fifty in Montana: http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/024/mwr-024-11-0414.pdf  (Article at bottom of page.)

I decided I should take care of the leaves in the pasture, before the snow presses then all down to a brown wad.

Most have to get a “burn permit” to burn leaves, (though many ignore the law), however the bureaucrats haven’t caught up to the farmers yet, and farms require no permit. If I was in the mood to worry, I’d worry about the inevitable fee for a farm-permit which our future will inevitably hold, but maybe I’ll get lucky and die first.

In any case, I took the easy route and burned the leaves out in the pasture, rather than lugging them all to the garden to use as mulch. (Rather than the drifts of leaves becoming a brown wad that kills the grass, the ashes will fertilize.) I was glad I did it, for it never fails to generate a lovely mood at the Childcare.

On the amber autumn afternoons
When the forest has finished disrobing
Before snow’s bed sheets tuck lullaby tunes,
When Geese, who want to spin the globe, wing
Silhouettes in western skies, my rake sighs
Dry leaves to piles, and I lower to light
One leaf with one match. The children’s bright eyes
Spot the sight, and all rush up in delight.

The flames spread, the rake scuffs, and hours pass
With nothing more needed, for few jobs draw
So many helpers as turning a mass
Of rustling leaves to hot, orange awe
And the sweetest smog and the quiet delight
Of sparks swirling up in a deepening night.

Burning leaves dscn2080

 Photo Credit: http://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/burn-baby-burn-using-fire-in-the-garden/