LOCAL VIEW –Singing In The Snow–

Sometimes I want to shoot the messenger. Ordinarily I am full of praise for the Weatherbell site, but today Joseph D’Aleo had the nerve to mention, on his blog, “Although the sun is 24 degrees higher in the sky and days are up to 3 and a half hours longer than the nights around Christmas, snows can happen in April.

I don’t want to hear that.

Then he, and also Joe Bastardi, went on in great detail about how winter, in a final fit, could delay our spring.  They were being honest, but so was Jesus when he told the Pharisees that their ostentatious outfits made them look like fools. And we know how Jesus was rewarded for his honesty, this being Easter. And I am grumpy and feel in some ways like a Pharisee.

At the same time I am perhaps less inclined to shoot (or crucify) messengers for telling the Truth, because I’ve been lambasted myself, when I simply comment on what the facts show us, in terms of all the hoopla about Global Warming.

I’m all for any sort of warming. After all, we get tortured in New Hampshire by false promises of spring every year, but the trees never are fooled, and never truly bust out until the first of May. I should know this by now. After all, I experienced my first miserable New Hampshire spring in 1972, and have more recently lived here non-stop for thirty years. However a boyish part of my heart remembers boyhood Springs, down in the flatlands of Massachusetts. Though only fifty miles away, Spring comes two weeks earlier there. And two weeks can seem like an eternity.

Not that the sun being 24 degrees higher in the sky and days being 3 1/2 hours longer doesn’t have an effect. It makes things worse. For example, look at the way the sun melts the snow away in only two days. Start here:

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And move two days on to this:

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And you’ll notice not green grass, but mud. Locals call it “The Mud Season.” In terms of running a Childcare, it means that rather than wet snowsuits I can throw in the drier, we wind up with muddy snow-suits I get in trouble for throwing in the drier. Of course I’ll also get in trouble, with the kids, if their snowsuits aren’t dry. It’s a lose-lose situation. The sooner Mud Season is over the happier I’ll be, but further frosts and further snows, as suggested by the Weatherbell site, will only prolong my misery.

Worst is that all the snow melted away back in February, and we had a day with a temperature of 72°F (22°C), and the mire was drying. All the Global Warming Alarmists were clicking their heels and joyously saying that the end of life as we know it was nigh.  But I’m no fool. The only threat to life as we know it was that they were so blind to the facts. The east coast of the USA was one of the few areas in the northern hemisphere above normal.

Singing 1 NOAA-map-land-Temp-Feb-2018

I went on to audaciously suggest that all the gray land-areas and white sea-areas in the above map, when in-filled (“homogenized”) by NOAA, would lean to warmth and hide how cold it was. This proved I was a “Denier”, though I only stated the Truth. For example,  in the above raw-data map southern India and western Ethiopia were below normal, but in the “homoginized” map below the same areas are above normal.

Singing 5 NOAA-map-blended-Temp-Feb-2018-1

Why should I get in trouble for pointing out what I just pointed out? It is right there for anyone to see. But it seems some Alarmists don’t like looking. They have “eyes but cannot see”. They prefer to “look” like they are correct, and this makes them like Pharisee in ostentatious outfits, “looking” spiritual.

Don’t get me wrong. Compared to Jesus I’m a spineless coward, and flee from any threat of being crucified. But I find it dismaying that even a spineless coward like myself can catch grief, for pointing out what a child can see. What am I denying, and why am I called a “denier”, for pointing out what is so obvious?

And let me point something else out, which I’ll likely catch heck for.

Some say land temperatures don’t matter, because they are so quick to rise and fall, and we should instead look at the sea-surface temperatures. But they distress me because they fell the past two months.

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To me this is distressing because most of the sea surface is in the southern hemisphere, and they have just experienced their summer. Is something besides CO2 having an effect, (such as a less intense and “quiet” sun?)

So, the northern hemisphere, which is mostly land, looks colder, and sea-surface temperatures, which are mostly in the southern hemisphere, also look colder, but we are to believe that, overall, the world is warming? I don’t think so. And the people who say the world is warming seem, to me, to be the true “deniers”.

I have nothing to gain from seeing a colder world. I long for warmth and for spring. I am not paid by “Big Oil” (or anyone else) for stating my views. I’m just saying the Truth as I see it. What is most chilling to me is not the delayed spring I face, but the retarded intelligence I face. I feel that, if a Renaissance is a societal springtime,  societal spring is delayed, or even reversed.

An April snow? It is but piffle
Compared to the world-wide winter we’ve seen
Summer after summer. Stench? One whiff will
Cause the straight-walker to wheel and careen
Like a drunkard. Don’t try to explain it
With your politics, pitting rich against poor
And poor against rich, nor to contain it
Like an escaped genie. You cannot slam the door
On such a winter. Pandora’s mistake
Cannot be re-boxed, nor is her hope much good,
For winter causes the good hearts to break
And saints feed lions. Bow heads, as you should,
And then resort to the Last Resort, to call Spring:
In the face of the blues, sing, man, sing!

It seems a strange response to me, but there is a power in singing when all gets dark. As I pondered about this I happened to venture my ideas with a group of friends at a Bible-study, and they swiftly responded with examples of illogical singing defeating insurmountable odds.

A.) Jehoshaphat marched out to meet three invading armies with his musicians at the head of his army, and the enemy was thrown into confusion and fought each other to death, and Jehoshaphat’s soldiers didn’t need to draw a sword.

B.) Paul and his companions were thrown in prison after being severely beaten, and rather than than collapsing into exhausted sleep, they prayed (which makes some sense) and sung hymns (which doesn’t.) There promptly was an earthquake and the prison doors sprang open (which makes some sense)  and their shackles sprang open as well (which doesn’t).

C.) In Psalm 69 King David, after listing reasons for woe and stating how his foes deserve punishment, states,

...But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
    may your salvation, God, protect me.

I will praise God’s name in song…

I am not as skilled as my friends are, when it comes to quoting scripture. Instead I could only resort to secular sources, and turn to the unrecognized great American poet, Dr. Seuss, and point out that when the Grinch tried to steal Christmas, the Who’s defeated him by singing.

In any case, after talking we sang, and I have to admit I felt much better.

Afterwards I went home and dug up an old song I wrote back in 1972, after a night when I screamed into my pillow.  I brushed it up a bit, and here is the 2018 version:

You are why the night wind’s hushing.
You are why the dawn is blushing.
You are why the birds start singing.
You are why the church bell’s ringing.

The night was long and cold.
I had no one to hold.
I felt so confused
And so abused
But I refused to think that You forgot me.

You are land lost sails discover.
You are why the ill recover.
You removed every splinter.
You can end every winter.

The song you teach at dawn
Goes on and on and on.
Dark and cold starlight
Fades from my sight
And I delight the Sun has not forgot me.

You are why the night wind’s hushing.
You are why the dawn is blushing.
You are why the birds start singing.
You are why the church bell’s ringing.

In conclusion, the springtime this poor planet really needs isn’t meteorological. It needs another Easter.

 

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LOCAL VIEW –Bogged–(With Postscript)

Sometimes I think forecasts are invented to keep us from despairing. Day follows day with slush, mud and driving rain, and there is this carrot dangled in front of the jackass, to keep it trudging on. Not that the warm, sunny weather ever actually materializes.

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It seems that even if the sun should shine, there is such a residue of slush and mud and glop it will take forever to dry.

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And when a sand driveway, which had been firm for forty years, mysteriously turns into quicksand that swallows your car, even your free time abruptly wears chains.

OK, Mr. Optimist, let’s see you talk your way out of this:

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As I rush through the rain from car to door
I pause to feel the icy needles pelt
And am glad I don’t work in rain any more.

When young I rejoiced and, hot-blooded, felt
Like dancing in the wet. You can forget
Such antics now. I slam shut the front door
And yearn for May.
                                           But it seems I am met
By delay. Treasure’s on hold. Tomorrow
Never comes. Heaven’s not this side of death.

Or do I forget what I knew? Sweet sorrow
Brimmed youth, but beauty took away my breath.

It is here, the beauty squinted eyes miss.
Come open these old, tired eyes with your kiss.

*********

POSTSCRIPT

The sun eventually did come out, and so did the car:

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It took nearly four hours. I managed to keep myself interested because I was curious about what caused the driveway to become like what men out on clam-flats in Maine called a “honey pot”, which was a soupy quicksand of clay covered by a rubbery skin of harder, sun-baked clay.

What it was was a spring. As I shoveled I freed it, and water came right up to the surface. After attempting to bail and then work, bail and then work, I hit upon building a diversion channel. In some ways it was sort of fun to make rivers in the mud like a small boy, which shows you that it may be possible to make misery be merriment.

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LOCAL VIEW –Boys and Mud–

Moths are drawn to light. Boys are drawn to mud.
It really makes me wonder at men’s reasons
For delight. You can sample people’s blood
And study chromosomes, blame the seasons,
Suspect treason, scowl at boy’s hormones
And still you find your logic hits a wall,
For boys find comfort in oozy, brown zones
That are not really comfortable at all.

Don’t I always warn them, “Do not go there”,
But does mischief ever wisely listen?
They sneak to the mire. Mud-balls fill the air.
I shake my head, wondering what I’m missing.

Soon they’re cold and wet, punished for desire,
And must be bathed clean, and warmed by a fire.

I, as a so-called “Child Care Professional”, (AKA “Babysitter”), am suppose to have the patience of a saint, and will never publicly admit I am otherwise. After all, I might lose my customers if I allowed little children to cause me to bust a blood vessel. Instead I smile as if all is sweetness and light. Some parents become downright indignant if they hear their little angel is a little bastard, and the State?  Well, I would lose my licence. Therefore, in public, I am such a saint that I am sometimes surprised I don’t levitate right up into the clouds. But it all a pretense.

When I want to be more honest about my true feelings, I go to church. This surprises some people, who think church itself is a place of pretense. Many people think church-goers are the snooty hypocrites, with holier-than-thou attitudes, but church involves this thing called, “confession of sin.” It springs from the first chapter of the first letter of Saint John, where he states, “If we say that we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  John goes on to state that if we pretend we are perfect we are basically calling Jesus Christ a liar, and that is no way to score points and gain benefits, spiritually.

Therefore, if you are doing church right, you are in essence standing before God naked, with all your hidden blemishes glaringly obvious, and that includes the fact that, although Jesus stated we should “suffer the little children”, there is a secret part of me, (if not you), that deems them little bastards and wants to throttle them.

Not that I can match the animosity of WC Fields towards children. He was famous for his line, “Go away kid, Ya bother me”,  (later used by Bugs Bunny), and he must have touched a nerve the public recognized, for the public roared with laughter as he behaved like the worst “Child Care Professional” imaginable. Here is an example of him caring for his nemesis, “Baby Leroy”, when what he really wanted to do was play golf.

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WC Fields might now be arrested for child abuse. Legend states he once grew so frustrated with Baby Leroy throwing tantrums, as they were trying to film, that he put gin in the child’s baby-bottle, (and that the child performed superbly afterwards). I hate to think what would happen to any modern Child Care Professional who tried such a remedy, (though people do currently turn a blind eye, when children get drugged.)

Those were harder times, as may be seen by thinking about the following testimonial to WC Fields by  Leo Rosten in 1939: “The only thing I can say about Mr. W.C. Fields, whom I have admired since the day he advanced upon Baby LeRoy with an icepick, is this: Any man who hates dogs and babies can’t be all bad.

This is complete and utter blasphemy, in the modern world of a Child Care professional. It just goes to show you that Hollywood was back then as it is now, (IE: inhabited by people who will clap and cheer at statements that will make people slightly ill, outside that particular, Hollywood, space and time).

In any case, I do like dogs and babies, which I suppose proves I can’t be all good. However, as is the case with all affection, there are thorns on the roses. Lord Jesus would not have said we should “suffer” the little children if the little angels didn’t sometimes make you want to scream.

For example, just focus on the fence rail in the background of the picture below:

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I replaced that rail today, (you can dimly see the pressure-treated replacement rail on the ground), and I think it is the twentieth rail I have replaced. I made a mistake, when we opened our Farm-Childcare, because I thought the Childcare would be a brief episode in the farm’s history, as we paid our way towards being a farm that focused on organic produce and goat’s milk. Therefore when I built the fence for the playground I bought the cheaper, untreated rails, though I bought pressure-treated posts. It saved me five hundred dollars back then, and would have been a good idea if we only ran the childcare three or four years, but now it is a decade later and a  major problem, because pine that is not treated with chemicals does not stand up well to rot. (The rails are sound except at the place where they join to the post. That is where the rot sets in.)

Now, despite the weakness of the rails, the rails would hang in there a lot longer if children would obey the rules, and not climb them. They have all sorts of climbing toys, and I also let them climb trees out in the woods more than my wife likes, but when it comes to the rails of the fence, I stand like Moses and command in a deep, booming voice, “Thou shalt not climb the rails!”

But there is one young fellow who doesn’t care a hoot about Moses. He has some gene that makes him inclined to climb fence rails, no matter what. He did so, and broke three rails, at age three. He did so, and broke five rails, at age four. Furthermore, for every time he was reprimanded for actually breaking rails, there are countless times when he was sternly reprimanded for climbing rails when they didn’t break.  Let’s call it 207 times, for the sake of this discussion.

After the first hundred times or so I got a bit exasperated, and the young fellow was punished with a “time out”, especially when the rails actually broke. He was undeterred. The young fellow seemed to figure the odds were against the rails breaking, because they only broke 8 times and didn’t break 207 times. The odds were with him, as he played this Russian roulette, until the rail pictured above broke, and he hurtled backwards and slammed his innocent skull on the frozen ground.  Then his wailing woke the bears.

At this point I think one is expected to rush up and say, “Oh deary me, did the itty bitty boy get a boo boo?” But I am more inclined to walk up with a grim face, and to hold the tearful child’s cheeks in my palms, and to check to make sure the pupils are not crossed or unequally dilated, and, once I am certain there is no brain damage, to ask an amazingly politically incorrect question, namely, “How many times have I told you not to climb those rails?”

What I actually said will remain a mystery, for I don’t want any lurking lawyers to see an opportunity for a lawsuit. I figure I’d lose a lawsuit, as a lawyer would insist I was to blame for not having a perfect fence. Such lawyers think they are a benefit to society by making people find remedies to potential hazards, but I think they are a benefit to insurance companies. Life has more hazards than before, because such lawyers are a hazard, and people are poorer after paying liability insurance, and can’t afford to fix fences.

In the real world, I am eye to eye with a young male who is recognizing I am a worthy adversary, who actually teaches there is such a thing as “accountability”.  There is such a thing as reaping-what-you-sow, such a thing as action-and-reaction, and such a thing as slamming your head on the frozen ground if you ignore the advice of tiresome grown-ups.

Many parents do not agree with my ideas about “accountability”. They make babies and hand them to me, because they have no time to raise their own children. Both parents must work long hours to pay for huge houses they seldom inhabit, to purchase wide-screen TV’s they seldom watch, to buy two amazing cars that commute ten thousand miles a year just to pay for the vehicle, and, lastly, to afford downloading their children onto a cantankerous old coot like me, who actually does like children and dogs.

The hypocrisy involved in the above paragraph is, to me at least, beyond surreal. It is downright splendid.

To return to the subject: In the above photograph, besides the busted fence-rail in the background, you may notice some mud in the foreground. That mud happens to be what, year after year, I work to make lawn, and which, year after year, I tell small children not to tread upon, when conditions become muddy, and which, year after year, children turn into a quagmire that kills the turf I have labored long and hard to establish.

Not that I really care all that much about lawns. I’ve made a lot of money caring for other people’s lawns, but have little time to fuss about my own. But this small area, at the entrance to my place of business, is important not only in terms of my image, but also because if it becomes a quagmire all sorts of slop gets tracked indoors, and my staff has to work overtime cleaning.

Therefore I not only lecture small children to take the long-way-around the area, but I erect barriers of stakes and tape to protect those few square feet of turf, but children are children, and “the shortest distance between two points breaks the law”.  I got tired of being upset all the time, and now take it for granted that the turf will be destroyed on a yearly basis.

Usually that happens in Mud-Season, which is in late March or early April, in New Hampshire.  However this year we are experiencing a full-blown “January Thaw”, which creates a short mud-season in the dead of winter.

A full-blown “January Thaw” makes me nervous, because in my long experience it means winter will come roaring back with a vengeance. [As a teen (in the 1960’s) I recall taking my shirt off to sunbathe by a reservoir in late January, while walking home from school, and then, when I got home, complaining to my mother’s “cleaning lady” about the lack of snow. I still recall the way the wise woman turned and spoke with great authority: “This sort of thaw breeds big snows.” And she was right. We got clobbered that February.]

Therefore I should be repairing my snow-blower and moving firewood onto the porch, making ready for feet of snow, and the last thing I want to spend my time doing is to remind little children over and over and over to stay out of the soft turf by the walkway.

But, of course, kids are not as far-sighted as I am.  They see mud as interesting stuff.  I mean, look at it, by the walkway:

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Don’t you just want to dig your hands into it and make a mud-ball?

Probably not, because you are old and stodgy. But, if you were a boy, you would, even if it was forbidden.

The above picture was far darker a day earlier, as the warm air streamed north and the rain poured down. Darkness was already deepening as the children poured off the school bus at my Farm-Childcare. The above mud was wetter, and more oozy.

My job, at that point, was to stand in the screen-porch and intercept certain children, predominantly boys, who should not go indoors. They had already spent far too much time indoors in rows of desks in classrooms, listening to a droning teacher, and could not have possibly withstood it for six hours without being drugged, but now the medication was wearing off.

To take such children indoors is an exercise in insanity, in my humble opinion.  If you attempt it, you see them bounce off the walls and things get broken. Therefore I make them don proper rain-gear, and we go out into the downpour, and they go wonderfully nuts.

Unfortunately there are certain parents who utter limp-wristed statements such as, “I never thought you’d go outside in today’s rain.”  How the heck they can say this, after enrolling their child in an “outdoors oriented” childcare, which uses the old Swedish motto, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” is beyond me. In any case, some kids arrive in summer dry-weather clothing, and I have to dress them in “loaner” clothing before we can go out to do the neat stuff we do in rainy weather.

This creates a brief gap between the time the children get off the bus, and the time we head out. During this time I am identifying the children wearing short sleeve shirts, and hustling indoors to find them a “loaner” raincoat.  Each time I leave the children unsupervised is likely grounds for a lawsuit, for they sure as heck are up to mischief.

I zipped indoors to grab a raincoat for a whining boy who complained “I have no jacket”. Upon my return I witnessed an amazing thing you cannot see, in the above picture of the attractive mud by the entrance to my Childcare. What I saw was boys wearing mittens scooping up mud.

I likely blurted some dumb question such as, “Didn’t I say to stay out of that mud?” An eight-year-old who likely will grow up to be a lawyer replied, “You said we could not walk on it, but we are not using our feet.”

I was in a hurry, and didn’t have time to think up a profound response, and merely growled,  “I don’t care. Stay away from the mud!” Then I rushed in to find “loaner” boots for a child who arrived in sneakers.

I swear it was less then a minute before I returned to find the children who obeyed me were plastered by mud thrown by the ones who disobeyed.

This mud-ball fight likely has symbolic significance,  for it shows that those who obey wind up muddy, while those who disobey get the pleasure if hurling mud. I may write a sonnet using that theme. However I had no time for sonnets. Instead I had seven wailing children who all wanted to go in and get washed.

There was no way I was allowing the little slobs in my nice, clean Childcare. Instead we headed away into the purple day, where fog we call “a snow-eater” was streaming above the shrinking snow-pack. I figured that if they kept wailing we’d turn back, but once we got moving the wailing ceased as if a switch was clicked. Wet snowballs began flying. At first the snowballs were a bit brown, but very quickly the weather and play cleaned the mud off the boys.

The only person who seemed at all cold was me. In the woods I had cut some pine boughs, and the boys hauled them about constructing a shelter of sorts, as the day darkened to a purple evening, and then my cellphone began chirping, as the staff texted me that parents were arriving. We all went trooping cheerfully back, washed by the rain, and more mellow than before, now that the pent-up energy was expended.

Of course, when we got back to the mud at the front walkway, one lad just had to impress his young mother by taking a big jump dead center into it, splashing some mud onto the legs of her fashionable pants.  All she did was speak his name in a pained voice, and then turn to me and sigh, “His medication is wearing off.”

I wanted to say, “Mud makes a better medicine.”

Instead I said, “Moths are drawn to light. Boys are drawn to mud.”

And that is how a sonnet began.