LOCAL VIEW –For Missus and For Sythia–

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Photo Credit:  http://www.instesre.org/TemperateClimate/TemperateClimate.htm

This past week has seen a reversion to wintry weather, with frost on the windshields and ice in the puddles. The budding trees have hit the brakes, and the ponds have gone nearly silent.

Back when the weather was more kindly, on April 16, I heard the first frogs, which are not the spring peepers but another small frog I’ve heard called “banjo frogs” (perhaps because they make a “Twank” sound,  a bit like a breaking banjo string). (The Australian frog with the same name actually sounds more like a banjo.) I call them “spring quackers” because they also sound a bit like ducks. They are lower and quieter than peepers, and always seem to beat the peepers by a day or two, when it comes to announcing the ponds are coming back to life. They are far less obvious than the peepers are. Where the peepers peep is piercing and shrill, the quackers are more of a low muttering, almost subliminal.

At our childcare I asked a small girl, around age three, if she could hear them, and at first she shook her head. Then her eyes changed, and she tilted her head, and looked off curiously through the trees. I asked her if she’d like to sneak closer, and she nodded. (Most kids like to sneak.) Then we crept through the pines, and it was wonderful to watch the child’s face fill with wonder as we drew closer and the plaintive “twanking” became more obvious. However then my idiot dog came lunging through the underbrush, plunging along the side of the pond to see what we were up to, and the frogs immediately became silent and the water ahead was dimpled with rings of ripples. I told the girl my dog wasn’t very good at sneaking, and she nodded.

By the next day the peepers had started their shrieking, and all the subtlety was lost.  They demand attention, which doesn’t seem a very good survival strategy, until you sneak up on them and understand they confuse predators by being both numerous and deafening. It is hard to locate a single frog by its peep, with so many other peeps coming at you from all angles. And they also become immediately silent, if you move too fast. I find them amazingly difficult to locate. They are also amazingly loud, once you see how small they are.

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(Photo credit: Mike Marchand.)

They also can stand being frozen solid, due to some sort of antifreeze in their blood. This was a good thing, as the promise of spring seemingly became a lie.

Just as the first frogs are tiny, so are the first blooms on the swamp maples, which are the first tree to bud out. The lowlands go from being silvery thickets to being touched by a raspberry mist I have yet to see captured by a photograph, but you have to poke your nose close to see how lovely the individual flowers are.

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(Photo credit: https://piedmontgardener.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/maple-flowers-and-buds.jpg )

Ours are a bit more purple than the the flowers pictured above, and they look a lot worse after they’ve been blasted by frost. I’m going to watch, to see if they make many seeds this year.  We got into a northwest flow on Tuesday that wouldn’t quit, and were still in it on Friday.

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A few flakes were in the roaring wind on Wednesday, and Thursday’s purple clouds kept pelting us with white, Dr. Seuss pompoms of  fluffy hail called “graupel”, and Friday morning began with a whirling flurry that briefly made the view look like January, though it never stuck to the ground. It was not weather conducive to ambition, in the garden, which turned out to be a good thing, for my  wife had other ambitions.

I wound up repairing the fence in front of the house, as the winter’s plows trashed what little was left of the old one. I fear I spend so much time over at the farm that I neglect my home, and the lack of care shows, and annoys my wife. The Memorial Day parade comes down Main Street and passes right in front of our house, and my wife doesn’t believe me when I say all eyes are on the parade and not our house. Consequently I spend time every spring at home, sprucing the place up, right when I feel I should be gardening.

There actually was a parade this morning, but as usual I always forget it, and get a shock. At the start of the baseball season the children are marched from the fire station to the ball field with blaring fire engines and police cars, and every year I think it is a terrorist attack.

After watching my grandson in his first game my ambition was to nap, but my middle son has the ambition to grow pear trees and see if he can start a microbrewery making a sort of pear cider called “perry”.  This is a long-term project, but in the short term involves planting four trees at the childcare, and also involves controlling my goats, so they don’t eat his saplings. This in turn involved repairing the electric fence, so that is what I wound up doing rather than snoozing.  Rather than rested I wound up feeling as you’d expect, after fighting with cold wire in a cold wind.

My ambition is now to simply survive until noon Monday. Sunday will not be a day of rest for me, as I am giving the sermon at our church. We have dwindled to a size so small that, fort the first time in 265 years, we can’t afford a pastor or interim pastor, and instead have “guest speakers” which includes our selves, (as we are cheapest) (IE free). We don’t call our sermons sermons, but rather call them “messages”, but mine will be a sermon all right.

My “message” is liable to be grouchy, as I have to fast on clear fluids, and then later in the day flush out my system and spend a lot of my time on the toilet, as my doctor wants to have a look inside my colon first thing Monday morning. It is hard to be happy about this prospect. A man of my advanced years expects to be treated with more dignity than that, especially right after giving a sermon at church.

It is also hard to see much prospect of Spring busting out.  We need south winds, as we are surrounded by cold in other directions. The Great Lakes still have ice, and there is still an amazing four feet of snow not all that far to our north. (The purple areas in the Dr Ryan Maue map below, from Joseph D’Aleo’s site at Weatherbell.)

Snowdepth to north April 22 ecmwf_snowdepth_conus2_1(1)

It is hard to see much hope in the current map, with the warm rains suppressed so far to the south.

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 However with the sun as high as it is in mid-August, spring is only seemingly denied. This morning, even with a skim of ice on puddles, when a beam of sun pooled in the east-facing shallows of the pond, a single peeper let out a solitary yelp. And I remind myself the ice was still thick enough to walk upon, on April first. Things have melted; spring isn’t denied.

The buds only seem on hold. Trees are very smart, for a being without brains, and they know when to bust out all over. The forsythia is yellower every day, even without blooming, and, even as I stood sulking by my garden yesterday, a bluebird landed on a fence-post nearby. It’s hard to argue with that.

POSTSCRIPT

The “spring quackers” are officially called “wood frogs”, and sound like this:

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LOCAL VIEW –Daffodils Drenched–(updated)

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( Photo credit: http://awaytogarden.com/bulb-growing-basics-a-springtime-recap/ )

Glancing through google images I couldn’t find a single picture, among hundreds of daffodils, of one drooping in the rain., so then I plugged in “drooping daffodils” and did a bit better.

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I suppose people are simply less inclined to take pictures of flowers in the rain, when the flowers are getting pounded down. People equate spring with blue skies. However every spring daffodils are in a hurry to spring up before the trees can shade them with leaves, and every year they get drubbed by downpours, and then droop downcast in the drizzle.

We did get drenched by a fairly vigorous southwest flow ahead of a sprawling storm over the Great Lakes, which has kicked a secondary low up the coast. Once again thunder made it north to Boston, but not up to our hills. It never seems quite spring to me until we get a roll of thunder, and the rain did begin as sleet yesterday (and is still sleeting in Northern Maine).

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(I’ll add more later, but have to run to work right now.)

*******

I found out there was thunder last night, but I slept through it.

I also noticed I myself was drooping like the daffodils. Partly it is a continuation of the post-taxes hang-over. It is a sort of “what’s the use of trying” mentality, born of the government’s greed, and its desire to take money and liberty away.

However, when I thought about it, it was an older feeling as well, a feeling I could recall from my youth, though usually it didn’t hit me until May. At first I’d be hit by wild ambition, and only later would the “what’s the use of trying” discouragement set in.

The first stanza of a poem I wrote in 1975 came bouncing through my head, and made me smile, and I added three more stanzas.

In the spring there’s more to do
Than the clock allows you to.
There’s a thousand different things you want to plant.
Although lazy with spring fever
You try working like a beaver
And attempt to keep a schedule you can’t.

Though your garden plans are brilliant
You will wonder where your will went
Once you leave your golden castles in the air.
All too soon your mind’s accosted
By your body’s, “I’m exhausted!”
What you’re growing is depression and despair.

Therefore interrupt your planning.
Cross out freezing. Cross out canning.
Cross out many months of toil for which you’re wishing.
While the garden soil you’re turning
Stoop and pluck the worms there squirming
And plop them in a can and plan some fishing.

Once you plan for some relaxing
You will quit the overtaxing
That can make the crop you grow a bitter harvest.
To avoid the groans you’ve grown
You must plant not bread alone
But also plant the songs and poems that are best.

That is some advice for myself. Now we shall see if I can practice what I preach, and follow my own advice.

LOCAL VIEW –Awaiting the Wet–

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We have a flood watch this morning, which seems slightly absurd as it is so dry I’ve have to risk arrest to burn the dead weeds in my garden. (The trick is to burn small patches, so by the time anyone smells smoke the quick blaze is out, and you are whistling innocently and planting seeds.)

I got 40 feet of spinach planted yesterday. Actually it is 80 feet, as I plant a double row, with the rows around six inches apart. Once the seeds come up I thin the plants so they are four to six inches apart, (using the thinnings in a salad). Then the trick is to make sure the spinach gets lots of water, and lots of nitrogen. I have a nice pile of rotted manure, (which the old-timers called “brown gold”), and top-dress the plants away from the stalks. (If the manure is placed too close to the plants they get overfed and turn yellow.)  What you want is the plants to grow at top speed, before the weather gets hot and they bolt.

After spending around fifty years thinking spinach was loaded with iron, and was good for me, I recently learned it also is loaded with oxalate, which binds with the iron and makes it so your body can’t use it. Therefore I’m simply growing it because I like it.

Anyway, half of the time, when you learn of a new scientific study that shows some nourishing thing isn’t nourishing, you later learn that scientific study was done by someone who benefits if sales of that nourishing thing slump.  Both eggs and milk have spent time on the not-good-for-you list, only to be removed later. It wouldn’t surprise me if the study showing Spinach didn’t supply as much iron as previously thought was done by the Broccoli Growers Association.

One thing that is fairly certain is that the fresher a food is, the more nutritious it is.  You don’t want to pick spinach and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. If possible you want to pick it just before dinner.

I’m also trying to grow some Onions from seed, which I’ve never tried before. Usually I plant little bulbs. I have ten feet of sweet onions and fifteen feet of Spanish onions involved in this experiment.

Usually the soil is muddy in April, but not yesterday. A bit of rain wouldn’t be a bad thing.

One reason for the flood watch is that the rivers and streams are fairly high, despite the drought. This is partly due to the snow-melt, but is also due to something I noticed happens during very cold winters. The level of lakes rises five inches. This occurs simply because the ice gets to be 50 inches thick, and a tenth of an iceberg floats above water, and that lifts the level of the lake a tenth of 50 inches, which is 5 inches. The “top of the water” can be five inches above the level of the outlet, yet not a drop can flow out, as the water is all frozen. As recently as April 1 we were walking on very solid ice on the ponds, but now it has vanished, under sunshine which beats down from the same point in the sky the sun is at in the middle of August. It’s amazing how quickly the ice just fades away, and then the extra five inches of water in the ponds can flow out the outlets, and the creeks and streams and rivers all rise even in a drought.

The snow is gone here, but there is likely more snow left to the north, and up on higher hills, and the weather service wants to cover its butt, when it issues the current flood watch, at a time the soil is getting dry and my seeds could use a bit of rain.

LOCAL VIEW —Taxing Taxes Done—

Man Oh Man, has it been a haul, but I came to an end to the drifts of receipts, and added up the numbers in various categories, and felt sick. It seemed I had not “withheld” enough, and owed the government $4000.00 more than I thought I’d owe. I would be hard pressed to come up with the money, and it was with a sense of doom that I approached the lady I pay to spend a half hour going through my numbers, and, with fingers moving like a blur, to punch all the numbers into forms on a computer screen, and finish the job.

This woman worked for the IRS for 35 years, and knows the ropes, concerning tax forms. She knows the legal ways of getting the most from “expenses.” I do not have a clue how some of the forms work. When I read something like, “If line sixteen is more than line eight, write down line five on line seventeen, but if line sixteen is less than line five divide line sixteen by line fifteen, and write down the result on line seventeen”, my reaction is to scream or laugh insanely. This lady simply pauses to look at the ceiling for a second, and then her fingers go back to being a blur.

When she was done I had “withheld” too much, and actually would be getting $700.00 back.

This involved an odd thing called “credits”, which has never made a lick of sense to me, because “credits” do not involve money the government took from you and is giving back, because they took too much. Instead it involves money they government never collected, but is able to hand out, because they have a press that can print money.

I suppose I should be happy, but it troubles me to get money I didn’t earn, even if it has a name like, “earned income credit”. It strikes me as madness, but the lady knows the ins and outs of the forms, and her computer automatically brings up credits I never even knew existed, when she types in my expenses.

Now it is over and done with.  I lift my weary eyes, and see a world that has been transformed.  The snow is gone.

I went out and rototillered part of the garden.  Man oh man was I out of shape. However I have hope of getting back into shape, and getting this blog back on track, over the next few days.

We have actually been in a sort of a drought, which allowed the four feet of snow to slowly fade away without the floods I half expected. The final snow-delay of a long winter was Monday, April 6, with around an inch of sleet and freezing rain, and it was followed by some gloomy weather (which was good for doing taxes in), with temperatures a little above freezing and a small amount of rain.

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Then high pressure built southeast of us, we got into a dry southwest flow, the sun burst out and we had a few glory days, with temperatures getting up near 70° (21° Celsius). You can see the warm fronts, which had been completely unable to penetrate north, pushed past and far up into Quebec. The rains with the next system stayed far to our west and south.

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Everything seemed to dry out coming east.

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A second high pressure has pressed south after the first, and given us cool but bone dry conditions.

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It is so dry that there were “Red Flag Warnings” yesterday. Perhaps due to a reaction setting in after doing my taxes, I felt really annoyed that the government was telling me I couldn’t burn the dead weeds in my own garden. There used to be a rule that stated farmers had brains, and didn’t need to get burn permits to burn weeds on their own farms, and I decided to pretend I didn’t know about the new rules, if some officious volunteer from the fire department showed up as I burned a small triangle of weeds in my rhubarb and asparagus patch, (bounded on two sides by lawn, and on the third side by rototilled soil).

Just as an experiment, I thought I’d see if I could control the fire and only burn a corner of the triangle. I couldn’t. A gust of wind hit, and the fire spread in a wonderfully exciting manner, with me rushing about the edges of the triangle, preventing attempts the fire made to spread outside its bounds. It put out an amazing amount of heat, and a hose hidden under the weeds melted, and a plastic flower pot at the edge caught on fire,  It was a bit disconcerting when the fire began to creep out over the lawn, burning the brown grass between the first sprigs of green, but a bit of dancing over the turf stomped those creepers out. In the end I proved an old farmer could burn weeds without setting the town ablaze, but it did stir the tax-addled molasses of my blood, just a bit.

It was a reminder to me how swiftly fires can spread this time of year. The duff (leaf litter) is not shaded, and the sun is as high and bright as it is in late August, and the top inch or so of the forest floor can become much drier than at any other time. When humidity gets low (it was down around 20% yesterday afternoon) and the wind is gusty, you can get fires that go roaring through the woods, along the ground.

But that didn’t happen on my farm, and the rhubarb patch is now free of dead weeds, with the ashes a nice fertilizer for the plants, which will come bulging up any day now. The daffodils have shot up, and are budding, in a place that was under snow ten days ago.

I’ve survived both winter and taxes.

 

 

 

LOCAL VIEW —THANKSGIVING STORM APPROACHES— updated with afterward

This is a quick insomnia report, to show maps of the storm #5’s development, and also to express amazement that anyone would have the sheer audacity to forecast snow, when it only got down to 39 last night (as of 4:00 AM) and is still 46 in Boston.  In fact it is only recently that the radar started to show snow at the northwest edge of the rain.

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If I was a suspicious fellow, I might suspect the fellows over at the weather bureau were pulling our legs.  After all, it likely gets boring looking at isobars all the time. Maybe they decided to cause general panic and hysteria throughout the east coast just for the fun of it, and now are sniggering up their sleeves.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

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I’ll update later, after I’m done hysterically panicking.

UPDATE–8:00 AM EST

Storm is deepening over South Carolina. Watch to see if the following second low over Florida persists. A strung-out storm is weaker.

Temperature here has dropped 4 degrees to 36 in 4 hours. Alto stratus with some high scud indicating falling rain, from west. Radar shows rain here, but it isn’t reaching the ground. Pressure in Manchester 30.19 Hg and falling. In Jaffrey 30.16 Hg.

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UPDATE  —2:00 PM—  Storm is here.

The first flakes started falling at 8:30 AM. There was no rain.  I went and picked some wild cranberries with one of the older boys.  The bright berries contrasted nicely with the purple-green foliage and the white snow.  Then we dug the final row of potatoes, plus some scattered onions and carrots that remained, from the frozen and then re-thawed soil, which was very muddy. I wore yellow raingear which soon was covered with briwn slush.

In the yard a boy built a snowman as the snow swiftly mounted up to over two inches. The snowman was a bit muddy as well. Parents came early to pick up their kids. Now only a single child remains.

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Temperatures down to 34 Manchester, 32 Jaffrey.  Pressures still fairly high, at 30.11 Manchester and 30.07 Jaffrey.

UPDATE  —7:00 PM—in for keeps—   (not posted until 9:00 AM)

Temperatures down to 32 at Manchester and 30 at Jaffrey.  Can’t check pressures, as we have just lost our internet connection. but at 6:00 Manchester was down to 29.89 and Jaffrey was down to 29.87.

I’ve saved the maps but can’t access them at the moment. Nor can I post this, so why am I writing?  Life is such a mystery at times!

At least we still have power, though the lights keep blinking. The snow is so sticky that all the electrical wires look as thick as a man’s thigh, like long white noodles.

My last outdoor job was to snow-blow the Childcare drive so the last,  lone child and single member of the staff could leave. We had around five inches then, at 5:00, and have aound seven now, at 7:00.  The drive home was a creeping crawl. Coming down the steep hill into town I saw a policeman pushing a car with spinning tires up the hill, well away from his cruiser and its flashing blue lights.  You don’t see that every day.

Now I’m home and there are very few things that could pry me from my chair and out the door again.

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FINAL UPDATE  —AFTERWARDS—

We received a total of a foot, tapering off to light snow by midnight. Winds remained fairly light and the pressure never got below 29.85. Temperatures remained mild, and this morning it is at 34 in Manchester to our east and 28 in Jaffrey to our west. The snow was very sticky, and all the trees are burdened and stooped, especially the evergreens, which barely show any green at all, and resemble big blobs of white. Everwhites, perhaps, or that is what they will be until the wind picks up. 

I’ve been out shoveling this morning, to prove to my sons that the old man is tougher than he appears, and to make them feel guilty for sleeping late.  The snow was fairly light until I got to the pile the plow made by the road. Then I spent a lot of time leaning on my shovel, except for a brief time shoveling vigorously because a car was passing, and I wanted to keep my reputation.  I used to have the reputation of being “hale”,  but now I think I’m called “spry.”  I’m not sure I like the demotion.

I’m not sure when we got our internet connection back. One of my sons rebooted the computer, and there it was.  I went to look at my favorite blogs, and at Weatherbell saw Joseph D’Aleo claim places had two feet of snow. We usually get the most, because we face the east in these hills, and I doubted very much that Flatlanders down in the cities could get two feet, when we only got a fluffy foot that settled to ten inches by morning.  I thought this might be one of those rare occasions where I’m right and Mr. D’Aleo is wrong, but then I’ll be darned if he didn’t go and offer photographic proof:

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In Canada that would be “61 cm of snow fell this morning,” and the joke would make no sense. Nor do we make sense for celebrating Thanksgiving five weeks too late.

http://www.insidehalton.com/whatson-story/4923662-10-reasons-why-canadian-thanksgiving-is-better-than-american-thanksgiving/

Be that as it may, thanks for visiting and HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Oh, I nearly forgot the Afterward maps: (Note the new lake-effect snows, and the small storm being whisked south of us.)

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