It pays to always remind yourself, “It could have been worse.” We could have had our recent storm in December, and could have faced the huge snowbanks hanging around for three months before they started to wilt in the March sunshine. As it is, they are wilting already.
It has been a winter of two powers, Atlantic and Pacific, battling for meteorlogical world-domination, with the Pacific for the most part winning. What this meant for us was a kindly pattern, with the storm track heading up over the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence valley, putting us on the warm side of most storms. It also made for powerful warm sectors to the storms, surging over us from the southwest to the northeast, and also pushing the secondary developments out into the Atlantic. It seemed a great year for Atlantic gales, but they were all five hundred to a thousand miles offshore, and even the cold blasts in their wake were usually out to sea. However in February the pattern seemed to shift, and the Atlantic powers started to assert their control more.
The storm track started to have trouble heading up the Saint Lawrence valley, and the warm sectors seemed less robust, and more easily occluded or shunted east. The secondary storms were less out to sea, and blowing-up closer and closer to the so-called “benchmark” southeast of Nantucket, where they can clobber us. And finally one did.
Our big storm was preceded by a a series of weak waves that failed to either be Pacific and give us mild rains, or Atlantic and give us gales, but instead meekly passed over from west to east, only growing strong after passing us, as storms had been wont to do all winter. However, even when temperatures were above “normal” they were just cold enough to give us snow. We actually had our snowcover gone by mid February, but it grew back as a series of small storms passed. For twelve straight days we had at least a few flakes, or sleet, or freezing rain, which waged a war against the power of the sun, which was now swiftly rising higher in the sky, nearly 23 degrees higher at noon than it was in December. I have written how we raised a final igloo at our Childcare, but so bright was the March sunshine it soon was renamed, “The Bad Tooth” (because it had cavities.)
It was at this point our streak of snowy days was broken by a blast of wind from the north, as an Atlantic gale blew up close enough for us to get the cold gales behind it. There was a band of snow in northern Maine and another down towards NYC, but we were in bright March sunshine, with winds cold enough to keep the snow icy (as can be seen in the above picture.) The computer models began to crank out ominous maps showing a storm coming up the coast, and I did the only thing I could think of doing, which was to lug as much firewood indoors, and undercover onto the porch, as my old body could stand.
I was fairly grumpy about the work, because I always am grumpy when faced with the stupidity of Daylight Savings Time. I don’t care if Benjamin Franklin dreamed up the idea. It is idiotic to mess with people’s biorhythms twice a year. It’s not so bad when you get the stolen hour of sleep back in the fall, but in the spring it is downright cruel to rob people of an hour of sleep, right when they are winter-worn and also have to do their taxes. But I figured that, if there is any way to control the weather, it is not through Carbon Credits but rather either by washing your car or preparing for a storm. In my experience preparing for a storm is a good way to chase a storm out to sea. (Also raking a pile of leaves is a good way to create a big gust of wind.)
My strategy didn’t work this time, as the map swiftly showed the set up for an east coast storm. You can see the prior storm as a gale blowing up over the Atlantic, to the far right, even as an approaching weak low in the “northern branch” is in the upper left and another weak low in the “southern branch” is towards the bottom left. Earlier in the winter such lows had past to our west keeping us rainy, and that was actually my hope: That the snow would change to rain; you don’t have to shovel rain.
Monday was a gray day with everyone cranky from the missed hour of sleep, and the cars again needing headlights in the morning, and the temperatures warming above freezing as the ridge of high pressure passed over and the north winds became southerly. Every now and again enormous snowflakes would fall, very swiftly, as if they were practically rain. In the afternoon the snow did change to light rain, and I got my hopes up. Rain might destroy my igloo, but I was stiff and sore from lugging firewood, and an igloo seemed a sacrifice well worth avoiding shoveling snow. The northern low was diving southeast as the southern low reached the Carolina coast, turned northeast, and started to intensify.
Snow began to mix in with the rain as we closed up the Childcare, but was melting on pavements and not accumulating. The air was still surprisingly dry, which is not a good thing if you desire rain, because, if precipitation falls through dry air, evaporation occurs, and evaporation cools the air, and the falling flakes stay cold enough to avoid turning to rain. The actual forecast was a bit wishy-washy about where the rain-snow line would set up. I imagined the forecasters preferred looking foolish to underestimating dangers, and would forecast snow even if they thought rain was more likely, so I kept my hopes up. However, to play it safe, my wife slept at the Childcare to watch over her mother, who was staying upstairs, and also to be there without having to battle through the half foot of wet snow forecast by morning. Meanwhile I went home to keep the home-fires burning and feed the dog.
Around dark I looked out at the streetlight and saw the rain had changed completely to snow, and by 7:00 PM it was steady and starting to accumulate, but not particularly heavy. I went to bed early and when I awoke just after midnight the snow was becoming heavy and it looked like we had a couple inches. I went back to bed and then heard my son plow the drive by the house. Glancing at my clock I saw to my surprise it was only 4:00 AM, and peering outside saw we had roughly a foot already. Any hope I had for rain was dwindling, especially because, though radar showed a wall of water rushing north from the southeast, our winds remained light from the north.
I tried to get back to sleep but suddenly I heard a blast of wind and the windows rattled. I have no clue what the phenomenon was, for when I arose the winds were back to being light from the north, but the lights had blinked and various electrical devises in the house were making the various noises they make as they reboot. I pottered about making ready to lose power, filling the bathtub with water (to flush the toilet with) and filling kettles in the kitchen (to cook with) and brewing an extra pot of coffee (to get wired with.)
Slowly the windows purpled with belated daylight, and I looked out and saw we had around a foot and a half (46 cm) and that I couldn’t see 400 yards down the road. Radar showed rain in Boston, rain in NYC, but we were just over the rain-snow line, and that line was moving south, not north towards us.
Looking out the front door convinced me to stay in. Notice the untouched snow shovel.
I called my wife, and was surprised to learn six children had been dropped off. Some parents couldn’t afford to miss any work, with heating costs so high, and couldn’t work from home. In one case the parent had lost power, just down the road. My wife said she still had power but the lights were blinking a lot, and she had filled pots with water just in case. My daughter texted she had lost power. My son texted the plows couldn’t keep up with the snow even on the bigger highways, and road-crews weren’t salting or sanding because they couldn’t stop to refill, and anyway the snow was coming down so fast it just covered the sand and washed away the salt. I told my wife I’d wait a bit before shoveling out, but then my neighbor put me to shame, clambering out to shovel her roof.
I went out to snow-rake off the roof of our screen porch before it collapsed, and as I did so my dog decided to get tricky (as usual) and to get me in trouble by violating the leash law (a $25.00 fine) but the snow was so deep her feet couldn’t reach the ground. After plunging across the yard she reached a place under the trees where her feet could touch, but just then there was a loud crack from the treetops, and snow came thudding down with a noise like soft thunder. The dog decided not to be so sneaky and came back.
I went out front to shovel the front steps. The snow was so heavy and wet I quickly decided a narrow path was better than a wide one.
Then I walked down the drive. Though my son had plowed a foot away earlier, the snow was a foot deep again. I looked towards my jeep.
It occurred to me I was crazy when younger, for back then I actually liked snow.
By this time the storm’s pressure was rapidly deepening as it came up the coast, as the northern branch feature plunged southeast towards the southern branch storm. If you are against snow, you hope the northern branch will hit like a croquet ball and knock the southern feature out to sea, but instead the two features were “phasing”.
What”phasing” does is generate “bombogenesis”. .
When I was younger they used to call this “rapid cyclogenesis”. This didn’t seem exciting enough, I suppose, so the phrase became “explosive cyclogenesis”, (if the pressure at the center of a storm dropped at least 24 mb in 24 hours). Then an unknown meteorologist (who should be famous) came up with the shortened form “bombogenesis” as a joke, little aware the coined word would someday make the dictionary. In any case, bombogenesis has been happening over and over all winter, out in the middle of the Atlantic where no one noticed, but this one was noticeable.
As the storm neared and exploded the winds shifted to northeast, and the radar showed the precipitation shift to the east from the south. It actually became less heavy, though it remained heavy. Boston remained in rain, but snow began in NYC.
By evening snow made it to Boston, as the “back edge” of the snow never made it east to us, in southern New Hampshire. We just got snow, snow, snow, for over twenty-four hours.
By noon we had over two feet, an were starting our third. I had to face the music and dug out the snow in front of my Jeerp. Then I thought I’d scoop a little hole in the windshield to see through, drive out onto the road, and only then remove the rest, out where plows could remove it when it fell to the ground, and I wouldn’t have to shovel it. But as soon as I started to poke a little hole the entire mass of snow on the windshield and hood slid off in front of the car. Hopefully snow has no ears, and didn’t hear what I called it.
(Notice how, by the time I took the picture, fresh snow was already accumulating on the hood.)
I again shoveled the snow away in front of the Jeep, and removed just enough by the driver’s-side door to get in, put the vehicle in four wheel drive, and spun my way out onto the highway. The rest of the snow slid off as easily as the snow slid from the front, and I was ready to journey the half mile to the farm. The state highway was a rutted mess, and the side road was a single lane. At the Childcare the chickens were snowbound and only the tops of the playground fence protruded.(Compare fence with first picture in this post).
My wife however was levitating three feet off the ground, (thanks to dense snow and snowshoes).
The idea was that the snowshoes would pack down the snow enough for the children to walk on, but kids have never been known for obeying instructions and sticking to the path, and once off the path they could do little more than flounder. I myself tended to break through the snowshoe-packed snow every tenth step, sinking right to my crotch. This made my next step like stepping up a three-foot-tall stair. It was amazingly exhausting, just moving twenty yards. I could see the kids would have no problem taking naps. Although the lights blinked a lot, the Childcare never lost power, though the internet quit and the cellphones were starting to text very slowly. I was still able to throw the children’s drenched snowsuits into the drier.
I did a bit of work shoveling the walkway into the Childcare, which my wife had shoveled earlier, but skipped bothering with the other entrances. There is a state law all fire exits must be clear, but I wasn’t worried about any inspectors showing up.
My son had passed through with his plow, crashing through the huge walls the town plows had raised across the parking lot entrance and exit and plowing a single lane so people could pick up their kids, but there was already another half foot of snow, and a town plow had raised a smaller wall across the entrance and exit. So I hopped in my Jeep and did the easy thing, which was to drive around and around in four-wheel-drive, breaking through the town plow walls, and packing a single lane in the parking lot. It worked. Bedraggled looking parents came by to get their kids, exclaiming about how awful the roads were. Many were going home to houses with no power, as the snow was so heavy it was taking down trees.
My wife decided to spend a second night at the Childcare. I was glad I had stacked wood inside, and got the upstairs wood fire stocked up and running on low, just in case they lost power over night. Then I headed home, as I wanted to see things on the internet.
The back road was deeply packed and like a washboard (not that many know what a washboard once was.) As I drove I was amazed by the industry and resiliency of many, who were out with snow-blowers and had their driveways clearer than the highways. Also just about every vehicle on the road was a pickup truck with a plow, as construction workers made some off-season bucks plowing drives. They’d get paid three times during this storm, as they plowed after each foot of snow. I noticed many men had little front-end-loaders they were using on their drives; almost like toys, such loaders seem to becoming as common as rider-lawnmowers, among men in the construction industry.
All of this got me musing about how dependent we are on fossil-fuels. My mind drifted back sixty years, when, after a storm, most shoveled. I can remember the first snowblowers appearing, clanking and awkward, in our wealthy town, and how scornful my father was of “sissies” who used them. Though he himself was crippled by polio, he had a sort of John-Henry-vs.-The-Steam-Engine attitude, and insisted we boys display our brawn and prowess by shoveling our fairly long driveway by hand. I wasn’t much help, being small, and my eldest brother never seemed interested in that sort of prowess, (preferring piano prowess), but my next-oldest brother was amazing, shoveling like a tornado, and liked to have the driveway done before all neighbors. We were helped by the fact it was paved with the blackest of all blacktops and faced south, but often it was clear and dry while the road was still snow-covered.
Before I was born New Englanders actually preferred to keep the roads snow-covered, as people moved about in horse-drawn sledges and sleighs. (I actually rode down the road our Childcare is on in a sleigh, in December of 1968). One lane of the state highway was not sanded for children in sleds on Town Hill, as recently as 1960, and back then the road department had a “roller” gathering cobwebs in a garage, which once had been drawn by horses to pack down the snow on streets.
I suppose we could go back to those ways, but it would make sense to prepare for it beforehand. We currently have no “rollers” nor sleighs, and would be in a bit of a pickle if Fraudulent Biden got his way, and we had no fossil fuels. Nor was it always easy during those old time winters. People used to be snowbound for days, and, during the winter of 1717, for weeks.
Arriving home, I took the dog out for a floundering walk, and then settled by the fire to check out the internet, which was working at home. Besides checking out some interesting articles on the winter of 1717, I kept an eye on the radar. The center of the storm had stalled, and described a loop-de-loop just north of Cape Cod. Some dry air was sucked in, but we remained in a snow band in southern New Hampshire, with an expanding “dry slot” remaining just to our west. It grew purple and then black outside, but I kept looking out the window towards the streetlight, and the snow kept flying. At 7:00 it passed twenty-four hours of snow. When I turned in at 10:00 it was still snowing…
and when I awoke in the wee hours the snow was lighter, but radar showed we were in the final band, just barely poking into southern New Hampshire from the south, as “dry slots” expanded all around us.
I awoke to brilliant sunshine at daybreak. The snow had ceased at around 2:00 AM, which meant we received 31 hours of snow, and the “official” town total was 36 inches (though I don’t know who the official was.) My own guess would be a little less, because the snow slumped under its own weight. In any case, it was over thirty inches, and the deepest one-storm-total I’ve witnessed in my seventy years.
The final four inches had been far more fluffy than the earlier snow, especially the first foot, which was like heavy wet cement as you shoveled. I skipped as much as I could, so I could hurry over to the Childcare. The schools were closed but again we were open and again a handful of children arrived despite the conditions.
The first thing I noticed was that our igloo had been wonderfully repaired. “The Bad Tooth” had been to the dentist. (Boy in background is on snowshoes.)
The second thing I noticed was that our “snow shedder” roof had solved one problem, but created another. The problem it solved was that it shed three feet of snow, so I didn’t need to shovel the roof. The problem it created was that it dumped the snow in front of the vent for the propane furnace, and the furnace shuts off when the vent is blocked. Some shoveling cannot be avoided, but I did as little as possible. (Vent is just beyond lower corner of nearest window.)
The isobars tightened as the storm moved off, and winds picked up. Bands of clouds rolled in from the north, and from time to time the brilliant sunshine would give way to whirling flurries of snow, and the sun would then come bursting out again and the air was filled with glittering. The sun was so high that the salted pavements swiftly melted, helped by the fact the mild winter has created no semi-permafrost beneath the pavement. (Other winters I’ve seen the ground frozen four feet down, especially under pavements, where there is no insulating blanket of snow.)
At this point the long-range-forecast produced another storm around a week in the future, with another three feet of snow possible. It seemed unlikely to me, but having just studied the winter of 1717 I knew such a duo of storms was indeed possible. But that winter began to become severe in February, during a mild winter just cold enough to have many snows, while our current storm seemed much later and more like the Blizzard of 1888, which occurred on March 17 after a mild winter with little snow, and wasn’t followed by a second storm. (1888 only produced two inches of slush down in Boston, but over four feet of snow in NYC.) In any case, no one was in the mood to sit back and hope the March sunshine melted the snow, with the ominous forecast.
My neighbor across the street was especially concerned because his house was built right against the street in the mid 1800’s, when “rollers” packed down the snow and people passed in sleighs. Now plows shove snow aside right against his house. To accidentally make matters worse, last summer he added a snow-shedder roof which dumps snow into the street, which the plows didn’t appreciate. Soon they would be widening the streets with “wing plows”, which, by pushing the shed snow off the street, very well might push his house right off its foundation. Therefore he borrowed a friend’s mini-front-end-loader and hustled to remove the snow piled against his house.
This highlights a subtle war that occurs between homeowners and town or state plows. Homeowners push snow out of their drives into the street, and the plows push the snow back into their driveways.
This conflict used to be handled fairly well, as homeowners would shove the snow across the street and off the street on the far side, and the operators of the wing-plows had a sort of dexterous touch to the plows, and would slightly raise them as they passed a drive, leaving at least the center of the drive open and the snow to the sides. However, a shortage of drivers abruptly occurred, as some of our best town drivers passed away, retired, or were hired away by the state (which paid better wages and was desperate for drivers). Suddenly we had young drivers who were unskilled, and snow at a depth rarely seen. A lot of mailboxes got knocked down, and even roadside stonewalls got shifted.
Clean-up was still occurring the second day after the storm. The long-range forecast still held the second huge storm, and people remained unwilling to trust the brilliant March sunshine and balmy temperatures. A huge front-end-loader appeared to shift snow from around the stop sign by my house, fearing another storm would cause the sign to completely vanish, despite the beaming March sunshine.
The schools had reopened on the second day after the storm, despite the fact the side roads still needed work, and this meant our Childcare had to handle “the bus kids”, who are children who only stay in the morning until the school bus comes. I had to make sure the entrance was passable. It was, but the exit was dangerous because the snowbanks were so high you couldn’t see if traffic was coming. You just had to gamble, shooting out into the street and hoping people stopped. My wife decided that was no good, and texted everyone that for the next few days our exit would be the entrance and the entrance would be the exit. This made everything clear as mud, for some still had no internet and received no text and employed the old arrangement, but we managed to get through the morning without a single head-on collision.
I got to thinking about the subjectivity of the word “passable”, especially when teachers are involved. (I probably should steer away from this subject, due to a hostility I still bear, even after a half century, towards a male teacher back in Junior High, who said a very pretty girl’s writing was “passable” and mine was not. Perhaps that was when I first learned about subjectivity. The girl’s writing may have been “cuter”, but so is a five-year-old’s. Anyway, as a bitter, thirteen-year-old boy craving recognition, I suspected the thirty-year-old man wasn’t looking at the flirtatious thirteen-year-old girl’s writing at all.)
In any case, teacher’s find roads “passable” when the alternative is unpleasant, and “impassable” when the alternative is pleasant. For example, the school plans for five “snow days” a winter. That means a teacher can miss up to five days without having to make them up. The days are paid for. But from the sixth day on, the missed day must be added to the end of the school year, to make up for missed time. No one (sane) wants to go to school in the summer. Consequently the effects of missing the first five days are pleasant, but after that are unpleasant. The result is that school was cancelled for three inches of snow in December, but we had school despite three feet of snow in March.
When you think of it, even twenty feet of snow is passable, when something as agreeable as skiing is involved. Here is an example from the Sierra Nevada:
This subjectivity evolves over the course of a lifetime into the wise saying, “It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.” When a ship was de-masted back in the 1400’s they couldn’t use cell-phones and a GPS and sit about waiting for the Coast Guard to show up in a helicopter, but had to use broken lengths of spar and a temporary sail (called a “jory”) to rig a makeshift sail, in order to stay alive and get back to shore. This created the phrase “jury rigging”.
“Jury rigging” is different from “Jerry rigging.” In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s a sloppy and/or lazy worker was given the disparaging title, “a Jerry”, (I don’t know who the original Jerry was, and apologize to all other Jeremiah’s), and therefore a badly built structure was called, “Jerry built.” Therefore the difference is that “jury rigging” involves necessity, and a display of ingenuity, and often saves lives. For example, the quick-fix that saved the lives of the astronauts on Apollo Thirteen was definitely jury rigging. The failed o-ring that caused the space shuttle Challenger’s explosion was likely due to Jerry rigging.
Bureaucrats in heated offices like to sit back and devise a slew of codes, rules, and regulation all intended to prevent any structure from ever being “Jerry Built,” but tend to get carried away, which gives us the OSHA horse:
In other words, the difference between jury rigged and Jerry rigged is often a matter of where you are sitting. People in warm offices see the world differently from people in the midst of blizzards.
It also seems to me that people become overly dependent on rescue, and lose touch with self resiliency when bureaucrats become too helpful. Often, after a hurricane or tornado down south, people simply stretch a huge, blue tarp over their roofless home, and then sit back and wait for help. Bureaucrats arrive with lots of forms to fill out, and then vanish back into offices to determine who qualifies for what and to what degree. Then they reemerge with more forms to fill out, including forms to hand to the people who fix roofs, to attempt to avoid paying the vultures who arrive and promise to fix roofs, but who take the money and run. Months and sometimes years pass, and the houses still have blue tarp roofs, but fortunately the weather is much warmer down south, and only a few nights each winter do people suffer, and occasionally die of pneumonia. The rest of the time the survivors live under blue tarp roofs which were originally jury built but now qualify as Jerry built. Then…
Then a church group gets involved. I have friends and relatives who “go on vacation ” by joining such groups for a week each winter. They coordinate with churches in the south, and arrive with trucks full of supplies and tools, have a prayer meeting, and get to work. As far as I know there is a minimum of form-filling. There is a job to be done and they just do it. There are communal meals, and a men’s dorm and a woman’s dorm (usually at local churches) and often local people join in during the meals, the work, and the evening prayers. I’ve known a couple people who only went down “to see the damage” but who returned praising the high spirits and moods of optimism and kindness they had witnessed, and who went again on following years. The most amazing thing described is how swiftly homes were repaired, even when they had been flooded to the ceiling of the first floor and all the sodden wallboard had to be removed. Many workers had no skill, but were willing to do what they were told, but there were enough skilled carpenters, electricians and plumbers to “do things by code” even without a bureaucrat present. Often the original structure hadn’t “been built to code”, and some jury rigging was necessary to improve upon the Jerry rigged structure, but what was most noticeable, especially to the local people, was the efficiency; in a few weeks several church groups had arrived and left, each having a wonderful time, and an entire neighborhood had been fixed up. More was done in less than a month than the government had managed to get done, despite the government having far more time and money. In some cases it had been years and the homes were still roofed in blue tarps, until a bunch of goodhearted bumpkins arrived.
They didn’t have to help their neighbors, but had become aware of what is within the old saying, “You never know what you can do until you have to.” People have hidden capacities within. A fat man may not think he can run, until he faces an escaped tiger.
My father verged on taking this attitude to the extreme, as he had been crippled by polio, yet came back from a hopeless-seeming situation largely by the sheer force of his will. He had little patience with me as a boy, when I whined, “I can’t.” Where my mother had the mercy of a nurse, he had the mercy of a drill sergeant, and wanted the work done. He wanted the driveway shoveled even if you only had a tablespoon.
This resulted in my developing a split personality. On one hand I was very good at escapism; at eluding the drill sergeant, while on the other hand I was good at facing the music when escape was no longer possible. And my escapism did land me in crazy predicaments more responsible people seldom find themselves in, for example being in a small sailboat in a storm at sea with the engine gone and the halyards snapped and no radio. You can run away from reality only so far before reality catches up. Sleeping in my car was another consequence of my escapism called “poetry”, and taught me a lot about facing the music (or perhaps facing the poetry).
People confronted by poverty know there is such a place as “rock bottom”, and are far more willing to break laws than bureaucrats in warm offices who like to sit about and make the laws. The same is true for any small businessman, and one endearing thing President Trump did was to point out there were more rules and regulations than any person could ever hope to read, and that in some cases the rules countermanded each other, and he set about abolishing many. However the simple fact of the matter is that people do not need a politician to override stupid rules. When pressed by necessity, such as a blizzard, people simply do it. They do not worry overmuch if it is jury rigging or Jerry rigging, they just do it.
Besides saying, “It is amazing what a man can do when he has to,” people say, “When the going gets tough the tough get going” and “It’s the job you never start that never gets done” and any number of other sayings which boil down to a reality bureaucrats don’t much like to hear: “Life goes on without bureaucrats.”
In a sense the recent storm was a trial run, a test case. People got to test their limits, and see their weaknesses exposed. For example, as I drove to the Childcare the second morning I noticed long line of cars at the gas station. It was people needing gasoline for their home generators, and the word on the street was that the gas station was running out of gas. This demonstrated how many have taken steps to exist without power coming from outside, but also exposed a weakness in their plans; IE: They may run out of gas.
As I arrived at the Childcare I faced the fact my body ached and that in some ways I myself, at age seventy, have run out of gas. Also it is harder to hire help. When I was young families with six kids were common, but now they are rare. Also, when I was young there was nothing a kid felt was worth watching on TV in the afternoon (unless you were a kid who liked mushy soap operas) but now there are all sorts of video games and shows to distract youth from going outside. (However when the power goes out and batteries fail perhaps things change.)
But I am lucky because I have my crowd of “bus kids” waiting for the school bus. It’s amazing how much work they can do, in just fifteen minutes, but when you think of it, four boys frenetic for fifteen minutes adds up to a single “man-hour”. And they work far faster than I can. To be honest, I think nine-year-olds work harder than many teenagers, (for short periods of time). As the bus arrives they troop off happily, each with a five dollar bill for a half an hour’s work, and no bureaucrat has arrived to tell me whether or not I have broken a child-labor-law, and whether the fire escape doorway is clean enough. (Notice in the background the snow has already settled a foot, and the rails on the fence are reappearing. Also notice the cleared doorway below the window’s lower right corner.)
In any case, it is still possible to remove snow without fossil fuels, but the fact of the matter is that fossil fuels often make the job faster and easier. I suppose one could even say fossil fuels, and the toy front-end-loaders men can now buy, to some degree replace the fact families used to have six kids who could shovel snow by hand. However solar power can’t do that.
Solar power works, for the sun will eventually melt the snow, but life will be far harder if Fraudulent Biden gets his way and fossil fuels become unavailable. This article involves my small town up in the hills, and amounts to a sort of test case, but the Blizzard of 1888 involved four feet of snow down in the big city of NYC, and the winter of 1717 involved five feet of snow for a month all around and even within Boston. (Drifts covered the tops of single story cottages, and their location was shown by a hole in the snow with smoke coming out, where the chimney was.)
When I amused myself by looking back at 1717 I came across other hard winters in those early days, which old-timers of that time argued about, (the arguments involving which was worst). There was one in the mid sixteen hundreds and another roughly thirty years later that involved over twenty “falls of snow” and various “ferries” that don’t exist any more (because we have bridges) being frozen solid for extended periods of time. For example, we now drive from Boston to Charlestown over a landfill which boats pass through using locks, but back then Boston was just a peninsula, the Back Bay was still a bay, and the only way to Charlestown required a ferry. To have the ferry freeze involved salt water, or at least brackish water, freezing, creating sea-ice far south of the Arctic Circle, (which of course got me interested).
In some ways this is all just trivia, but I can’t help but notice that, among the mild winters, there are some winters of legendary cold. The winter of 1698-1699 isn’t known so much for the depth of the snow, as for the lack of thaw and rain. The snow that fell never melted. The rather poor records of that time state they had “thirty snowfalls”, which may be a record, and certainly was a pain in the butt for the people.
One thing that is interesting is that the people involved were not used to such winters. They were newcomers, and snow over a foot deep is seldom a problem in the southerly sections of England they came from. However the transplants swiftly utilized some Native American ways of surviving deep snows, one of which was to use snowshoes.
Having utterly exhausted myself walking through deep snow to feed my goat during our recent storm, I concur that this is a brilliant invention. I also think it demonstrates that, while the Native Americans and Europeans spent half their time, a full seventy-five years out of their first hundred-fifty, trying to commit genocide against each other, between 1620 and 1770, they also had a sneaking admiration of each other and stole each other’s ideas. (Pity they had to be sneaky about what could have been done in the broad daylight of peace.)
Pity that we now live in a time when Fraudulent Biden must sneak his ideas past all the checks and balances of a vibrant republic, and avoid the health of wholesome debate, initiating “lock downs”. In terms of the China Virus, to ask for a second opinion from doctors was not allowed. And the same was (and is) true concerning Global Warming, and the decree we must abandon fossil fuels. A second opinion is not allowed, and a two party system is banned. It is pitiful. Why? Because such autocrats have the my-way-or-the-highway attitude of a cyclops, and the pity of a cyclops is that it can never even dream of the depth-perception people with schizophrenic eyeballs take for granted.
Schizophrenic? Well, you have to comprehend it took deep snow to force Puritans to do what they otherwise wouldn’t. People who had a love of their own ways might say “I will never act like those other people do”, but deep snow made them hypocrites, because they did act like those other people, and wore snowshoes. And is not such hypocrisy a sort of schizophrenia?
I remember my parents talking with my grandparents about something they called “the pendulum”. Things would go from one extreme to another extreme, and then back again. It could involve things as inconsequential as the length of women’s dresses. Or it could involve more serious stuff. But the idea was that neither side was stable. You couldn’t freeze the pendulum to the far right or far left. Something in human nature always wanted to see the other side, and was swayed the other way.
One attribute of any autocrat is that they want to freeze the pendulum. They want to have the power to outlaw any opinion other than their own. If you get bored by their banal braying, they want to censor your alternative opinion. If you are a child bored by the blackboard, and your eyes drift to clouds out the window, they clash shut the blinds. They demand they, and they alone, are the center of attention. They alone are worthy of worship. They deem themselves God.
However something in human nature wants to see the other side, and is swayed the other way. The despot hates this. It is for this reason communists encourage “the revolution”, but detest “the counterrevolution”. They encourage a dismissal of sane honesty in order to get power (“The ends justify the means”) and resent sane honesty once they have seized power, (“Might makes right”.) However they defy a law as simple as the law of gravity, when they attempt to freeze the pendulum to the far left. Honesty tugs, pulls, drags, and makes all their effort an exercise in futility.
The despot is like a person who rushes about attempting to stamp out fires he sees leaping up from the carpet, who is unaware the fires are due to the fact the ceiling above his head is ablaze, and showering sparks.
In any case I currently find myself in the shoes of the petite bourgeois, who are despised by the communist mindset because the petite bourgeois are capable of thinking for themselves and therefore are “counterrevolutionary”, because they do not need a “collective” telling them what to do. Not that I intend to overthrow the government, but when you state Truth matters, you may accidentally be threatening liars. And when some say “the ends justify the means” they are just justifying their lies. You then may become a threat to them, simply by stating the Truth. And, with that as my springboard, forgive me as I embark upon a bit of a rant.
The Truth is not a thing held by a mortal, and especially not by a mortal as full of flaws as I am, but Truth does have the power to crush liars. For the simple fact of the matter is that Truth’s mercy puts leaders in the powerful position they hold in the first place. What God gives God can take away. After all, from the start the odds are very stacked against such a lone person ruling a million. They are outnumbered. As Napoleon put it, “Religion is to keep the poor from killing the rich.”
However, what is to keep the rich from killing the poor? Hitler killed how many Germans? Stalin killed how many Russians? Mao killed how many Chinese? Pol Pot killed how many Cambodians? And how many Americans might Fraudulent Biden deem it acceptable to kill?
Acceptable? Well, there are some who say that the current population of earth is “unsustainable”, and needs to be reduced to a half billion. This logic makes the genocide of roughly seven billion people acceptable. It is a “reasonable” thing to do, though such a genocide must include Americans. If you have no heart, such logic makes perfect sense, (providing you are of the half billion who escape the genocide).
I am not of those who would escape such a genocide, and therefore I look around and wonder if we Americans are like Europeans, and are willing to be led like sheep to slaughter. Are we like the six million Jews and one million Roma led to gas chambers by Hitler? Are we like the Russian Kulak, of whom Solzhenitsyn said six million were killed by Stalin’s purges?
I think not. Europeans are superior to Americans, in terms of their fidelity to leaders, but Americans are superior to Europeans, in terms of their love of individual liberty. (I imagine souls are born in the place that most suits their needs, or “Karma”.) However the result of this difference is that which works in Europe may backfire in America.
Is this just wishful thinking on my part? That is what I stand about looking for: I seek evidence Americans will push back against despotism. Or will they meekly comply to all lock-downs?
One thing I have noted the past three years is that people were not all that law-abiding during the China-virus lock-downs. At first, when they imagined they were making sacrifices for a good cause, they were willing and eager to listen to bureaucrats. However, when the cure started to look worse than what it was supposedly curing, people started to devise ways “around the law”.
In a sense the lock-downs were like a blizzard, and people became aware “you never know what you can do until you have to.”
I could go on at length about how people “got around the law,” (often using the law to get around the law, because bureaucrats have made so many contrary laws one could legally sell turnips as catfish, if one used laws slyly). (Glance through Silvergate’s, “Three Felonies a Day”.) But such a discussion likely would be a very long sidetrack, and should involve a separate post. Let it suffice to say the response of the American people was in some ways troubling to the radical left. First, the economy was not harmed as much as expected, and second, people were not as enraged as expected.
I surmise the radical element in “the swamp” expected trouble when they rigged the election, and then also brazenly shoved the falsified results through congress, for they erected barricades of razor wire. Why? Then they attempted to inflame the passions of the protestors and to at least generate the appearances of an insurrection. Why? Lastly they tried to make what involved no arms and very little violence look like a rebellion, when it was largely peaceful and largely in compliance with the law. They seemed to think if they used the word “insurrection” often enough they could make a lie be reality, but the effort failed miserably. The media failed to fool most, and became somewhat comical in their resemblance to what little children call “backwards-day”. With burning buildings in the background, the media called events involving Antifa rioters “peaceful protests”, and with smiling protestors peacefully milling about in the background the media called the January 6 protests “an insurrection”. It was too much; it overtaxed even the credulity of the credulous.
The American people have been exposed from an early age to the clever blandishments of Madison Avenue via non-stop commercials on TV, and have been forced to become callused to (or develop antibodies against) such sales pitches, and the leftist media was not as clever as Madison Avenue. In fact they were downright clumsy. Then the simple fact the American people did not respond as expected made the media a strange mixture of overly-confident and afraid. They went from clumsy to clumsier.
Perhaps some think the failure of Americans to rise in wrathful violence is a sign the people have lost their courage. Some on the radical left are perhaps encouraged, and think, “This takeover is going to be even easier than we dreamed possible”. However I imagine the silence may be like the silence of teammates seeing a member of their own team make an error. The faces of Americans, watching their politicians and their media, are like the faces of the Chicago players in the Norman Rockwell painting, “The Dugout”.
Such a concept involves the idea we are all on the same team. This may be a new idea to some leftists. For all their talk of “inclusion” they are big on exclusion, on “cancelling”. The idea we are “one nation indivisible” is a bit of a shock to them. Yet many look upon even leftists as fellow Americans, and as teammates. The ideas Jesus Christ put forward about loving your neighbors and loving even your enemies hits leftists like a ton of bricks, when they face faces that are not filled with hate, but rather wince with disappointment. They are the faces of teammates that hoped you’d do better.
But what the heck, even Babe Ruth struck out. In fact he struck out a lot. He struck out more often than he hit home runs. He struck out 1330 times, yet is purported to have stated, “Never let your fear of striking out get in your way.” It seems an example of the idea that greatness is founded upon failures. Failures help us to fine-tune our swing, if we swing for the fences. The pendulum swings back and forth, between strike outs and home runs, between hot-streaks and slumps. As teammates, we should support each other regardless of whether we are winning or losing. If you grieve, we grieve. If you rejoice, we rejoice. (Any mention of “cancelling” in such philosophy?) We all seek a greater good which is good for you and good for the team. If you get sent back to the minor leagues, it is not to humiliate or destroy you, but to further your development. And it also helps the team.
This philosophy is a bit hard for some leftists to hear, especially as they have had their chance in the big leagues and now face being sent back to the minors. However there is no getting around the fact they have struck out constantly without hitting any home runs. They require further development. And the pained expressions of their teammates should tell them as much.
With that I will end my rant, and return to the details of our recovery from the massive snowstorm we experienced.
The long-range forecast was still showing a second massive storm, with a further three feet of snow, only six days away, so we were acting accordingly. I had my Childcare drive clear of snow, and was ready to receive the three children who dismount from a school-bus at noon (as our town only has half-day kindergarten). However three minutes before the bus was expected to arrive a town plow flew by with its wing plow down, and blocked the drive with a three foot tall wall of snow.
I was busy elsewhere. The notch you see in the wall of snow was made by my wife, for the bus driver was unwilling to even open the door unless some way was made for the three children to get over the pile and into the drive. So my wife rushed out and stomped and tromped a path.
I arrived shortly after that, and, after muttering some things about young plow drivers, had to quickly clear the wall to make ready for a parent arriving at 2:00 and also the “Special Needs” school bus, which would be entering the drive at 2:30 to deliver a lone child.
Only a few years ago I would have attacked that wall of snow with a shovel, but I’ve run out of gas at age seventy. I just can’t work that hard any more. So what I did was put my Jeep into four-wheel-drive and crashed through the pile, and then backed up, and repeated this process over and over until the Jeep’s wheels had packed down the wall into a sort of flattened berm at the entrance. Then I drove around and repeated the process at the exit. Who needs physical strength when you have fossil fuels?
Feeling a bit smug I went into the Childcare and sat back to enjoy a bowl of soup and the deep, sweet silence which descends at “nap time”, which is suppose to end at 2:30 but tends to start to end earlier. I dress the early risers in snow suits and send them outside, so they won’t wake the others. I was in the middle of this process when I heard the sound of a plow scraping down the street, and glancing out the window saw the young town-plower use his wing plow to build a second, smaller version of the wall across our entrance. That was approximately at 2:29, and before I could think of appropriate swears the Special Needs bus came around the corner and attempted to plow its way through the pile into the drive.
I had never noticed this before about the Special Need buses, but they are sort of the antithesis of a Jeep. I think some sort of government subsidies are involved, invented by a well-meaning bureaucrat who desired to invent a vehicle resembling the OSHA horse. For example, the wheels on the Special Needs bus were tiny, about half as big as the wheels on my Jeep. They looked like they belonged on a golf cart. Likely this had some “green” benefit; perhaps better gas mileage in summer weather; but currently such wheels were a fast way to get stuck in snow. The little bus whined its tires and rocked forward and back, but was stuck.
I heaved a sigh, shouldered a snow shovel, and trudged out to dig the bus out. At age seventy I know the routine. First you have to remove the snow packed under the vehicle’s frame, which keeps the wheels from touching the ground. This involves some especially awkward shoveling, reaching hard-to-reach places, and over the past half century I’ve learned to detest such bent-over and twisted contortions of the body, while digging. It is detestable even when you are young and limber, and at age seventy it is especially detestable because I knew the situation was easily avoidable, if old Harry had been operating the wing-plow instead of the young whippersnapper.
As I thought about this injustice I was working myself into a tizzy, just thinking how detestable it was, but, where a fury once helped me work harder and faster, it now just gets me out of breath, so I have to pause and lean on my shovel. As I did so I looked up and saw a bus load of faces all smiling at me.
I had never noticed this before, but sometimes Special Needs students seem far happier than everyone else. Maybe their joy is a bit demented, but they sure were on a different page than the one my grumpy self-pity was on. As they watched me work they were all laughing and waving.
I was struck by a sudden urge to give them all the middle finger; to dissolve into rage and shriek strange things: “I can be demented too, y’know. I got my own Special Needs!” However such behavior does not behoove the director of a Childcare, so I abstained, and instead I waggled my fingers at the happy children, and smiled as they all waggled delighted fingers back. My middle finger did not step out of line. Then my fingers clenched the handle and I went back to shoveling.
I instructed the young-lady bus driver to try to back up and shoveled in front of the spinning tire, and then to drive forward and shoveled behind, and felt a ray of hope. The tire made a raspy noise, as if it was starting make contact with sand, and the vehicle rocked further and further backwards and forwards, until abruptly the bus lifted out of its predicament as if it was as easy as pie and it had been thinking of doing so all along, but just wanted to make me feel important by pretending to be stuck.
A small Specially Needed child got out and went waltzing into the Childcare, and then I had to get the bus out of there, through the wall of snow at the exit. I looked at the berm and, after stroking my chin sagely, decided against any further work. Instead I instructed the young lady to wait until I saw the road was clear, and when I gestured to gun the engine and leave the lot at top speed. It may have taken a few years off the bus’s green warranty, but it worked. They went piling out into the road, jouncing over the snow pile and then driving off with everyone happily (and a bit wildly) waving backwards at me. And for days afterward every time I passed that Special Needs bus, the driver would wildly wave at me, as if we were the best of long-time friends.
But for the moment I was bushed. “I’m getting too old for this,” I muttered to myself, but the snow was of another opinion.
The brilliant March sunshine turned the berms at the entrance and exit slushy by the end of the day, and the Moms driving their big SUV’s made deep ruts in the berm, which other Moms in their little sedans avoided, by straddling the ruts. Overnight the slush froze as hard as iron, and then, first thing in the morning, an especially air-headed Mom drove her little sedan right into the deep SUV ruts, where her wheels didn’t even touch the ground.
I had come creaking into work groaning about how stiff and sore I was, and collapsed at my desk to start going through a year’s worth of receipts and begin doing my taxes. I took a deep breath and prepared my mind to focus, which was when I got word the car was stuck. I was less than happy, even though it was a good excuse to avoid doing taxes.
It was the exact same situation the Special Needs bus was in, only rather than snow it was slush frozen as hard as iron. I limped to a shed, dragged out a grub hoe, and began to listlessly peck away at the ice, all my muscles protesting the abuse. And just then a superhero arrived.
It was a man who has been my neighbor since 1968. Back then he came up to my knees. He’s roughly sixty now, but still has his strength. He stopped his truck, stomped over, took my grub hoe from me, and began whaling away, prying big slabs of ice from the pavement and casting them aside. Then he backed his truck up close to the little car, so he had something to brace against as he pushed, and with a tremendous heave removed the sedan from the ruts. Then, with a friendly nod, he headed off. Then the young mother drove off, leaving me to reflect in the sunshine. I mused that there is a difference between age sixty and age seventy, and it is all downhill.
I glanced at my cellphone, and just then something amazing happened. Three feet of snow melted in five seconds. Of course I am not referring to the snow all around me, but the snow in the five-day-forecast. The dreaded second storm had up and vanished, “in the most recent run of the computer models” (which is what weathermen say nowadays, rather than “botched forecast.”) In fact the forecast was for nothing but sunny days and mild temperatures.
I looked around, noticing how different the snow looked, now that rather than threatening to grow deeper it was instead bidding adieu. What was this odd feeling I felt? Nostalgia for the nuisance? Yes, though it seemed impossible. At age seventy you can wonder if you’ll ever see snow again, and it makes you a bit wistful.
Glancing out over the playground I could already see the fence reemerging, and the igloo, which we had prepped for “the second storm”, was looking ragged. It would not long withstand the March sunshine.
And indeed that is exactly what happened. It collapsed three days later, and eight days later was a white shadow of its former self.
Not that, even with the snow vanishing, there are not plenty of signs of our great storm. Besides the plow damage to the fence in the background of the above picture, which I’ll have to fix, I know I’ll be huffing and puffing with a chainsaw a lot, cleaning up all the tree damage the heavy snow caused.
It is amazing how swiftly the snow shrinks in late March and early April, but it makes sense. Even in the ice ages the ice would melt and pour in torrents off the giant glaciers, for in April the sun gets as high and as hot as it is in August. Not that we can’t get tricked and be shocked by snow in May, but that is a fluke. Usually you move from shoveling snow to spading the pea patch so swiftly it makes your head spin. I’m not sure I’m up to it, at age seventy, and am looking about for recruits, for at my age what I should be doing is wearing suspenders, so I can hook my thumbs in them before pontificating sagely.
What would I pontificate sagely about? Well, you’ve read pages and pages, so you know. But I have one more thing to add.
As Americans regard their media and politicians like the Chicago players regarding their unseen teammate in Rockwell’s “The Dugout”, it suggests a certain awareness we have, and sense of humor we have, about the imperfections of others, and of ourselves. We know we are not perfect. At it’s worst, this means we are not entirely worthy of trust. So what can we trust?
On American’s soon-to-be-worthless money it says, “In God We Trust”. Ironic. Poor old widows worked long and hard as teachers for pensions, but Fraudulent Biden wants to find a way around paying the pensions, and the way (if successful) will be hyperinflation. People will get their pensions, but a thousand dollars will buy but a slice of bread. People will feel like fools for having trusted money, but American money states who alone deserves the trust.
“In God We Trust”. Many radical leftists laugh at that. Like Sennacherib before the walls of Jerusalem, they point out how many cried out to God, in whatever form they worshiped, and it never helped them. Sennacherib’s armies just smashed them. And some leftists imagine seven billion will be eradicated, in the name of population control, and God won’t raise a finger. But maybe such leftists are in for a surprise, just as Sennacherib got surprised.
The past winter surprised both sides of the Atlantic, as it was milder than expected, most of the time. People who could have been hurt very badly by high energy costs were not hurt as badly as expected. I sense some mercy in that, unless you are a particularly nasty person who wants people “to be taught a lesson” by suffering.
Personally I feel we were taught a lesson by the mild winter. We had a single shot of extreme cold, down to twenty below, and a single record-setting snowfall of over three feet. Also, at the start, we had extreme flooding. That is enough teaching, in my book. We saw our weaknesses exposed. We saw what we should do before next winter comes back to do it again. We also saw where we could help others, and where we need to ask others for help. But the strange question to ask is this: “Who was the teacher?”
The answer to that question makes leftists shudder. They argue against the answer, but fear it all the same.
“In God We Trust.”