LOCAL VIEW —Waiting for Grrr-Blow—(updated twice)

After our first thaw in weeks, (perhaps in over a month), up in these hills in southern New Hampshire, the cold air has come pressing slowly back south. In fact even as our thaw came in on Wednesday, the wind was already shifting around to the north side of west. The air was Chinook air, greatly moderated by passing over an entire continent of snow. It wasn’t the tropical stuff that makes a snow-eater fog drift over cold snow, but was rather dry, and both maps and radar showed we were on the north side of a boundary between continental warmth and polar coolness, with the arctic upstream and waiting in the wings.

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It was just mild enough to allow the snow-shedding roof at the Farm-childcare to actually shed snow, for the first time all winter.

I never was fully aware of how such roofs require a thin film of water to exist between the roof and the snow, in order to shed the snow. Or I never was aware until this winter. This winter it was so cold (and the insulation of the building is so excellent) that no such ultra-slippery slickness ever developed between snow and roof, so the snow just sat up there. Fortunately the winds blew some of the snow off the upper roofs, but unfortunately it packed the rest into over a foot of layered, packed powder. Because the structure was originally a barn, it has a barn’s roof, with a shallow slope at the peak, becoming a steep slope halfway towards the eves. The steep-slope has shed its snow, but the shallow-slope retained an ominous load of snow. I had to become a grouch and meany, and forbid the little children to play next to the building, (which they like to do as it is warmest next to the south-facing wall),  because I was concerned they might be hit by a heavy weight of accumulated snow, if the roof ever got around to doing its job. This concern was only increased when the local newspaper reported that a man the next town over was buried and trapped for two hours by his snow-shedding roof, before someone heard him yelling for help.

In conclusion, the snow-shedding roof was a failure, this year. It is suppose to spare me the bother of shoveling off roofs in snowy winters, but I had to shovel the lower roofs of the entry ways and porches, where the wind heaped snow rather than blowing it away. Also the snow got so deep up there that a second story outlet for a propane heater was blocked, the heater shut down, and despite excellent insulation pipes froze. Lastly, when the snow finally did come down yesterday, it fell with a sound like soft thunder, and packed into a substance like stiffening concrete, and blocked emergency exits with four feet of snow. I was not pleased, as I faced clearing paths to the exits.

At least I don’t have to worry about the roof collapsing any more. (The stable for the goats has required some roof-raking, as it has old fashioned shingles.)

There have been some roof-collapses in the area, or “partial collapses”, (whatever that is). This is a big worry for high schools, which tend to have flat roofs. This is also a big boon for roofers, who tend to be out of work this time of year. However they don’t work cheaply. A degree of danger is involved, as well as discomfort when the temperature is below zero, and a guy shoveling a roof will get $50.00 an hour. When twenty men are shoveling the roof of a high school, you are talking a thousand dollars an hour, and then there is the cost modern hoists and lifts and front-end-loaders and cherry-pickers. At a school not far north of here the taxpayers were informed by a contractor that to have their school’s roofs cleared of four feet of snow would cost $60,000.

The response of the local taxpayers was a rebellion. A large number of taxpayers showed up first thing Saturday morning and, with surprising speed, they cleared off all the roofs. They had to work fast, because if the School’s insurance company found out they would have forbidden such volunteerism.  However, if the insurance company found out it was too late; they faced a “fait acompli”.  (This is not to say some adjuster could be all bent out of shape, and, to display his petty power, cancel the town’s insurance, however such people gain a reputation for being a “stinker”, and it has been my experience that, in the long run, they get transferred to Siberia, where they have plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of always stressing things be done “by-the-book”.)

I had a different concern, regarding collapsing roofs. I like to provide the children with igloos to play in, at our Childcare, however because the snow has never once been the sticky snow children make snowmen and snowballs from, all winter, I had to construct igloos of blocks of packed powder. This is actually what Eskimos build their igloos from, up where temperatures are -40.

(Please do not inform me I am disrespectful to use the word “Eskimo” and should use the word “Inuit”.  Such people know I have huge respect for the ability to survive vicious winters, but think lesser respect is petty, and superficial. Furthermore, if they really care about such petty things, I’ll make a deal with them: “I will call Eskimos “Inuits” when they respect a sacred tradition of my tribe, and always follow the letter “Q” with the letter “U”, when using a form of communication called “writing”, which, as far as I know, Eskimos never developed on their own.  They likely didn’t bother because writing is a petty thing, compared to surviving when it is forty, fifty, sixty and even seventy below zero. )

In any case, despite the lack of sticky snow, I created a structure the little children delighted in. By running the snow-blower around and around in a circle in the playground, aiming the chute in towards a central area, I could turn four feet of snow into a mountain of packed powder they could climb up and slide down. Then a sort of worm-hole was carved through the mountain, and at one end I carved blocks from the mountain and constructed an igloo of chunks of dry snow that that didn’t stick together, and only didn’t fall because employed the principles of the arch, which was first discovered by the Roman Empire and Eskimos, but not by the Inca.

The problem is that children are not satisfied by crawling into an igloo. They have a strange desire to scale the outside as well, and sit on the top. Because the structure was not made of sticky snow, and only made of blocks of dry snow, I had to again be a grouch and a meany and forbid climbing the roof of the igloo, especially as I got a bit carried away, and the roof was seven feet tall.

Only yesterday was the snow, for the first time all winter, sticky. As soon as the drive and walkways and entrances were clean, the very first thing I did, (after attending to the nagging goats), was to head straight to that igloo and pack all the chinks between the dry blocks of snow with sticky, wet plaster.  (I only did the outside; the inside must await a warmer day.) The structure went from looking like a Yankee stone wall, laced with cracks and chinks and crannies, to looking utterly smooth.)

I’m not sure why I did this. I sure didn’t need the exercise, as I already was gobbling aspirin.  But I’m glad I did it. Everything froze solid last night, and stayed below freezing as today dawned gray and cold, and only got up to 27.9°.  Towards noon, as I drove into the parking lot, bringing my gang-of-six back from half-day kindergarten, I glanced toward that igloo, and seated at the tippitytop was a curly-headed three-year-old, waving merrily at me.

(I’m going to have to have words with the staff about igloo-watching.)

Another concern I face this time of year is that the sledding suddenly goes from slow to rocket-speed. For the entire winter the trails have been packed powder, and any crashes were into fluff. Now a glaze forms on the trails, and increasingly the snow gets crusty, and crashes are into snow that is less kindly. Small children delight in going much faster, and need to instructed about the dangers of speed. Such awareness doesn’t seem to be something humans know about, in their chromosomes. (Nor do small children listen to me, as much as they learn from first-hand experience, and having a scab on the tip of their nose.)

Parents who allow their children to come to our Childcare are not the sort who feel children should be bubble-wrapped and placed in a padded cell. They understand healthy children tend to have scabs on their knees. However I myself don’t like scabs on the tips of noses, and do everything I can to avoid what we call a “face-plant”, which causes such scabs.  However today we had our first face-plant, six feet away from a mother, and it happened not on the sledding trails, but at the igloo.

I can’t blame my staff, because I was working, but I was busy adding a new room to the igloo, and was not attending properly. The mother had arrived, and her boy, who loses his mittens with amazing regularity, had already turned in his “loaner” mittens and therefore had naked hands. I expected they would head to the car and go home. However the mother got to talking to a member of my staff, and somewhat to my astonishment, these supposedly mature women came out to the igloo and lay down and went worming in through a child-sized entrance to investigate the cavern at the side of a snow mountain. Meanwhile the small boy, with nothing better to do, decided to climb the snow mountain without using his naked hands. Bad idea. Because he was protecting his hands, they somehow got trapped beside his body as he slid face-first like an otter, and he did a face-plant, just as his mother was reappearing. feet-first, from the worm-hole.

He suffered a nick on his nose, and another on the skin above his upper lip, and his chapped lower lip split slightly (but didn’t turn into a “fat lip.”)  However facial wounds bleed a lot, especially in the case of young and healthy circulations, and though in this case the bleeding lasted all of thirty seconds, five-year-old boys are not macho at the sight of blood, and this child let loose a bawl likely heard on the far side of the moon.

As one of the older children dashed off, and swiftly returned with roughly half a box of Kleenex in a huge wad, and we mopped up the blood, I figured the mother would be displeased with my skills as a childcare-provider. To my surprise she wasn’t. She watched as I went through my usual routine, admiring the blood and the loudness of the bawling, and then acting a little disappointed that the bleeding had stopped (as was shown by the failure of the Kleenex to mop any more,) and even more disappointed by the failure of the bawling to get louder. I was helped by the fact the mother was present, and could give the magical hug that makes hospitals look pathetic, as it stops crying far more swiftly, at no cost. However, as the boy returned from trauma to laughing, I was surprised the mother was so stoic, and wasn’t mad at me.

It turned out she was surprised I wasn’t mad at her. She thought her boy was bleeding because, as she squirmed out of the igloo feet first, she had accidentally kicked her child in the lip. She was very glad she hadn’t kicked him, and a face-plant was to blame.

This demonstrates the complicated social interactions which lawyers and bureaucrats would take months in courtrooms to resolve, but which mothers and childcare-providers deal with swiftly, and often do so several times in a single hour.

What do we understand that they don’t?  Perhaps we simply know that in a month all the snow will be gone, and none of this will matter or even exist any more.

However it is going to be a long, long month, I fear. For the time being all the snow may be suppressed south, and it may be southern states getting the record snows as the cold sinks south. We only had a few flakes today, and Boston only got a dusting.

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Currently we are only spared because the current upper air trough is “positively tilted,” and the front is a “anafront”.  (On his superb blog at Weatherbell, Joseph D’Aleo has a wonderful explanation of such meteorological concepts, today.)  To simplify greatly, all the weather is sweeping west-to-east out to sea, to our south.

I look further south, to the Gulf of Mexico, where I see the above maps show a sort of weak, winter “Bermuda High” is starting to bring up tropical juice.  I have a very nervous feeling we  will not get out of this winter without a surge of that tropical juice interacting with arctic air, and giving the east coast one, last, farewell kick in the butt. After all, this far north March is still a winter month. In 1993 the entire east coast was clobbered by a magnificent storm, but even that amazing event was small potatoes compared to a storm that hit between March 11 and 14 in 1888.

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That 1888 storm hit after a mild winter, when they had no snow banks to begin with. If such a storm were to hit us now, with the huge snowbanks we already have, New England would be basically be shut down. Of course, we’d make an effort to clean up, but the real clean up would be done by spring sunshine in April. For the most part we’d rely on that, and not on bureaucrats, lawyers, and politicians, who think they have power, but are pawns to a realer Reality.

UPDATE  —SUPER SUNNY—

It was -2.0° (-18.9° Celsius) just before sunrise this morning.  It’s unusual to get sub-zero cold in March. It’s also unusual to have the entire USA basically storm free, without any rain or snow except  a few showers off the southern tip pf Texas, and flurries up in Washington State.

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I refuse to be fooled by this benign map. I’m waiting for Grrr-blow (play on words: Waiting For Godot), and will not lower my guard and be hit by a sucker punch.

However I have to admit the March sunshine does get to you. It has a sort of exuberance utterly unlike December’s sun, and gets under your eyelids and chases gloom from the caverns of your mind. Even our old, fat cat waddles to the front door and stands by it, as if it actually will go outside for the first time in months. Of course, if you open the door, it recoils from the inrush of arctic air, and does an about-face. However the sunshine pouring in the window can fool even a comfort-loving cat.

Into my mind this morning came exuberant sunshine, and out of the blue I recalled a song I wrote at age 19, after a long, cold, and seemingly hopeless winter.

Is that there a willow tree
In the winter’s gray?
Clowning yellows happily
And laughing in its play,
“Spring will come some day.”

Can it be a hidden grin
Is bursting out aloud?
A boatless sailor’s porpoise fin?
I see you’re in
Beneath your shroud.

I had better be careful. If I don’t watch it I’ll be fooled into smiling by something you can’t put in a bank: Sunshine.

EVENING UPDATE;  ARCTIC SUNSHINE

Today was dazzling, so brilliant that I verged on snow-blindness. When I stepped indoors it seemed very dark, even when I turned on the lights. The temperatures only topped off around 20°. ( I have to move my Christmas thermometer, for the sun has gotten high enough to mess up its midday readings.) Yet the snow softened next to south-facing walls, or on south-facing slopes, and I was able to transport sticky snow in a sled to my  igloo and strengthen the walls. The snow has settled to a degree where small children can walk on top of it rather than wallowing through it. It remains amazingly deep, but definitely is on the defensive.

The snow-cover is extensive. Joseph D’Aleo had some great satellite shots today on his blog at Weatherbell. However what I notice is how it is largely to the east. The snow-cover had record-setting readings way down in Kentucky, (-9° in Monticello). Meanwhile way up in Wyoming there is hardly any snow-cover across the entire state.  To me this suggests things are out-of-balance, and some peculiar adjustment will occur. My forecast? Planet Earth will abruptly veer from its orbit and head off towards Pluto.

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I think it was a dazzling day over a lot of the USA. Mighty March sunshine briefly rules. A single weak clipper-like storm nudges into Minnesota.

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I worked a long afternoon shift at our Farm-Childcare, including “quiet time”, which involves watching innocent children nap. Usually at least one is trouble, but today, for some strange reason, all konked out. So I sat and thought about March sunshine and wrote a couple of sonnets.

All winter the snow’s been powder, never
The glue you can stick together and shape
Into castles and forts and other clever
Constructs of winter minds, until now, too late
To build anything lasting, snow’s sticky.
What’s the use of starting? Forts won’t last.

What’s the use? Ah! There thought gets tricky
For all things will someday crumble, be past,
Yet who can resist building castles of sand
At the beach, despite a gargantuan
Snoring, a stone’s throw off? It’s our demand
That we bloom; fruitfulness is part of man.

Therefore I’ll build snow forts in sunshine
That will erase all, and leave not a sign.

********

Moved by March sunshine, my wise, old, fat cat
Waddles to the door and looks up at me
As if she might go out. Fat chance of that
When the temperature won’t nudge past twenty
At noon, and yesterday’s slush is so frozen
That light-footed ladies crunch like elephants
Passing in the street. My cat hears, and then
Turns away from the door, not taking the chance
Of wincing whiskers with in-rushing arctic.
Still, the sunshine is March’s, so the wise cat
Walks to where light pools, and pauses to lick
Her paws, and then slides into warm honey that
Will push her across the rug all morning.
March sunshine moves us, without warning.

I get a lot of quiet joy from playing with words and penning sonnets, and tend to softly chuckle to myself  and, if I am describing a cat,  to take on the cat’s facial expressions as I describe it. Just as I was finishing the second sonnet I glanced up, and saw a small six-year-old girl, with her head up on her elbows, was studying the contortions of my face with obvious, deep, and grave interest.

One wonders what she might tell her parents.

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LOCAL VIEW —More Boston Snow—(Updated with Summery)

Another brutal shot of cold air came slugging into New England on Monday. The temperature was still relatively mild just before dawn at 22.8°, but headed down as an arctic front passed through. It was interesting how the flurries became squalls to our north and to our south, but we lucked out and had just a few flakes wandering about. It was enough to make Monday a day-with-snow, but not anything I had to deal with, even with a broom, which was a good thing, as I was stiff and sore from snow-blowing on Sinday, and still had some porches and paths to clear.

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Temperatures had fallen to 15° by noon and were down into the single digits in the afternoon, with a gusty wind whipping up clouds of stinging powder, despite the fact there was just enough moisture in the Sunday morning snow to form the thinnest of crusts. The snow has been amazingly powdery this winter, and we have had no crust atop the snow to speak of. Sunday only gave us a quarter inch of crust, and then there was enough powder after the brief spell of sticky snow to allow the typical wraiths to swirl and twist, dancing wildly across the pasture and then charging away down the street, despite the brilliant sunshine from a February sun climbing up toward the regions it crosses in March.

I did not have to drive my gang-of-six to kindergarten, as the schools have let out for a week of vacation. This is a “Disturbance in the Force” [Star Wars] as it makes chaos of the routine. Traditionally Massachusetts would have its vacation one week, and folk in New hampshire would work like crazy that week because lots of people used the vacation to come north to ski. Then New Hampshire would collapse as Massachusetts went back to work the following week, and have its vacation the week after Massachusetts.

This is one of those traditions that makes less and less sense as time goes by. No longer is every hill in New Hampshire topped by a rope-tow run by an old Model T engine, which was once all it took to be a “ski-area”. Lawsuits and Insurance have put all the small family-owned ski-areas out of business, and all that is left are the larger resorts, which charge so much for skiing it is actually cheaper for a young family to fly down to Florida and go to Disney World. Also many near the border now commute down to Massachusetts to work, and in the case of teachers they have a vacation at their school a week before their children have vacation in their New Hampshire School.

My wife and I didn’t have the problems of modern parents, as we raised our five kids. We didn’t have to worry about ski-areas or Florida, for we couldn’t afford that, and instead took our kids sledding or skating or ice-fishing, (and I coached a basketball team for my boys that tended to play during vacations, as well). As a landscaper and handyman, winter was a time of little business for me, and I usually had to find some night-shift job at a factory, but this still meant I was around during the day. Meanwhile my wife alternated between being a stay-at-home Mom and the recreation-director of some nearby facility either focused on the first or second childhood. We got by, however the idea of spending a hundred a week on gasoline, or two hundred a week on Childcare, would have struck us as absurd. It defeated the whole reason for getting a job, (using up the money you made), and deprived you of time with your kids as well.

For many modern parents vacation is THE time, the ONLY time, they get to have with their kids, and I can’t blame them for wanting it to be special and involve some fabulous trip to Florida. However in some cases it is the same parents who tell me they can’t afford to pay their Childcare bill on time. Hmm. (Perhaps grandparents in Florida have taken pity, and paid for the airfare, because they want to see their grandchildren.)

In any case it makes a complete shambles of order at our Childcare. Children need wildness, but also have a craving for order and routine, and vacation is disorder. The chemistry of the Childcare’s mini-society is utterly altered, as children who usually go to school stay all day, and others who usually stay all day are in Florida.

Furthermore the winter has been so hard, and involved so many “snow days”, it is not as if the kids have been spending too much time at school. The routine was a shambles to begin with, and vacation is just a shambles on top of a shambles. But never mind that. As this winter has gone on it has seemed more and more like a boxing match, where you have to roll with the punches.

To return to the subject, I did not have to drive my gang-of-six to kindergarten. Therefore I scheduled a yearly physical at my doctor’s office.

To depart from the topic,  the way that doctor’s focus on physical reality annoys me. My father was a surgeon and my mother was a nurse, and perhaps I got an overdose of that focus, and responded by retreating into the landscape of an air-head. After all, of all artists, writers are the most air-headed. Painters at least employ the physical sense of vision, and composers at least employ the physical sense of hearing. Writers employ no sense, yet make sense. (I could describe a lemon and make your mouth water, without a lemon in sight.)

In any case, because I spend so much of my time in a non-physical world, winter really annoys me. It is always hitting me with stinging snow on bitter blasts, and forcing me to deal with boring physical stuff. In the same manner, my doctor wants to force me to deal with even more annoying physical stuff. For some reason he wants to look around inside my colon. This will mean I have to miss two full days of work, one of which I will basically spend sitting on a toilet crapping out diarrhea. All I can say is, doctors sure have a weird idea of what is good for you.

To return to the topic, the winds were howling and the snow was sifting and swirling and the weather bureau was saying frostbite could set in as swiftly as 30 minutes, and the children were lobbying to stay indoors. One bossy little girl had even decided who would stay in and who would go out. I walked in and stated everyone was going out, for at least 29 minutes. The little girl shot me a baleful glance.

In actual fact, dressing to go out is not an annoying task that tries the patience of both children and myself. It is, in and of itself, an “activity” which “promotes learning” and “stimulates the development of self-reliant skills.”  (You learn to talk this jargon, when you work this business.)

Anyway, to go out in barbaric weather involves mental stuff that is more important than physical reality.  Don’t get me wrong, I keep a sharp eye out for the slightest hint of frostbite. I also keep an eye out for the benefits being outside pours upon children, and adults as well, if they only dare step out the door.

Not a single child wanted to go in after 29 minutes. In fact the little girl who shot me the baleful glance about going out was annoyed at her friend, who wanted to go in after 50 minutes.

A member of my staff took the more delicate children in as I stayed out with the hardier ones, but one by one kids headed in, until I was at last out with one little boy who was even more hardy than I was. He was having a blast, sledding down cliffs I usually would forbid children from sledding upon, but which are now quite safe because any crashing plunks the crasher into a vast pillow of deep snow. Despite powdering his face with snow over and over, (the powder melts, and wet skin increases the danger of frostbite), his cheeks remained a cheerful and healthy pink, without the mottled, purplish look that tells me it is time to go in. We only eventually went in because I myself was feeling a bit mottled and purplish.

I might have been shuddering a bit, as we came in, but that particular boy was surprisingly serene, especially when you consider he is often a hellion indoors. To me it is one more example of how people who focus on physical reality, and won’t even allow children outside when temperatures dip below 20°, are completely missing a higher reality.

The physical reality got nasty as night fell and the core of the cold came down. 20150223C satsfc20150223C rad_ec_640x480_12

As the cold suppressed a storm to our south and shunted it out to sea, temperatures dropped to the lowest levels of the winter, reaching -10.8° (-23.8° Celsius) around midnight, before the wind dropped and began shifting more to the west, and temperatures rose slightly to -9° at sunrise.

Today was a cold day, with lots of high clouds in a cold, blue sky, but less wind. I built a fire out in the pasture for the sledding children to warm by, and had to admit it looked downright odd, as it was down in a crater, four feet below the surface of the snow.  I had to to careful kids didn’t fall into the fire, as they decended to warm by it, and carved a sort of staircase in the snow to make their decent less treacherous.

However the oddest thing about today was to hear a buzz of gossip about the city of Boston holding a gathering of ministers from different faiths to pray for help, regarding the problems snow was causing. This shocked me. It sounds more like the mid 1800’s, when Boston was the most prudish city in the nation, and the center of the “Bible Belt” of that time. I had thought Boston had now become too “secular” for such an event. Curiosity had me attempt to learn more.

As far as I can tell, the gossip is based about this video.

While I must admit it is a good thing for clergy to unite, rather than backbite, and for them to speak of neighbors loving neighbors, and brotherhood, and how “We are all in this together,” but….didn’t they forget something?  I mean, um, err, isn’t prayer suppose to involve this fellow called, um, err, “God”???

It seems yet another case where the physical unity of people and peoples ignores something sublimely non-physical. In any case, the prayer didn’t work. An interesting little storm is charging up the coast, and seems, somewhat incredibly, aiming to hit Boston with up to five inches, as I, only seventy miles away,  get a few lone flakes.

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As this snow headed north to teach preachers in Boston to mention God more, when they pray, we got some southerly air, and a flurry of snow at 11:00  PM. (That keeps Tuesday from being a snow-less day.) Temperatures had fallen to 7.9°, but after the flurry arose to 9.4°.  We had a lighter flurry just after midnight (which keeps Wednesday from being a snow-less day) but now the stars are back out and temperatures have slipped back to 8.6°

The map doesn’t look all that threatening, in terms of snow, but it looks like another arctic blast is charging our way,  behind that cold front crossing the Great Lakes.

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Now it is time to quit attending to physical reality, and attend to dream-land instead. I’m only up because my left shoulder is so sore I can’;t sleep on it. That is another “healthy” thing my doctor did to me.

He advised I have a anti-pneumonia vaccine. Actually there is no germ called “pneumonia”, and the vaccine is for various types of staphylococcus bacteria. You used to be able to kill those bugs with antibiotics, but they have grown resistant.  In any case, I don’t have pneumonia, but have one heck of a sore left shoulder.

I’ll try to update this post, with information about how much snow Boston got ( if any ), tomorrow, but I must confess I’m getting tired of physical reality. Rather than update this post I may subject you to my “art”. I have a craving to finish up a chapter of my novel. If I find time, you’ll be faced with that, rather than an update. I apologize in advance.

UPDATE  —Another jab at Boston—

The snow clipped them with another two inches of snow, as we got the barest dusting. The edge of the snow was remarkably sharp.

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It is not as if 2 inches will close down Boston, but it keeps melting at bay. The bright March-like sunshine would melt away 2 inches a day, and the snow banks would gradually shrink, but the snow keeps coming. It is like jab after jab in a boxing match, but what all dread is the uppercut.  That would be a final storm where the features in the southern stream and northern stream “phase” into a big storm.  Rain would cause all sorts of problems, but a big nor’easter would utterly close the city down. I think things would basically grind to a halt until thaw did some major melting.

Actually the best site for seeing Boston’s trauma documented has been Joseph D’Aleo’s site at Weatherbell. It is well worth the price of a cup of coffee a day it costs me each day. One of the most eye-opening features has been this list of Boston’s statistics, updated regularly, and showing them get an amazing 8 feet of snow over the past month. (The red print is what is predicted, but hasn’t happened yet.) (Click to enlarge and clarify.)

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The above chart shows they will actually get a thaw down there today, and that I had better get things done in the sun, before bitter blasts return.  Actually I  have a rather easy day, and may actually have time to think and write a little.

In any case, we are starting to look west to the next features in the northern and southern blasts, so I guess this “snow-event” is over. Up here it won’t look all that impressive, though it did give us our coldest temperatures of the winter. All we got was a dusting.

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The radar does show both a southern branch and northern branch feature, but the forecast shows no “phasing”.

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A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THOUGHT’S POWER, AND PRAYER

Because writers spend so much time in a non-physical reality they tend to stumble into or through situations which strike some as being slightly “occult”.  Back before the word “telepathy” was invented Mark Twain wrote a couple of works about what he called “Mental Telegraphy”, involving what he called “crossing letters” (among other things). He noticed, over and over, that when he sat down to write someone for the first time in months, and even years, that person would also be sitting down to write, and their letters would cross in the mail. He wondered about controlling this ability, but beyond dabbling a little he tended to feel it was something he could only observe, and not use like people used the newfangled invention called the “telephone”.

I’ve noticed the same coincidences, and it has given me the sense our thoughts do have some sort of power. If this is a truth, then prayer has power, but also wishes have power, and desires have power.  All people are walking about transmitting thoughts which form an incredible jumble in the psychic atmosphere, and make me think that a true psychic would get a headache, for it would be like listening to a radio tuned into hundreds of stations at once. (Or perhaps it would be sheer static).

If all these thoughts do have power, the various powers likely are in conflict. For example during the Superbowl half the fans are praying for one side and half for the other, creating the chaos we watch and enjoy and call “football”.

In like manner, all people’s various wishes may indeed control the weather, but because they are conflicting they create chaos. The Baptists are praying for a sunny church picnic as the Methodists pray for rain on their corn, and the thoughts collide and create a tornado.

The weather would be far better if people could agree, but people don’t. Or that is how I explain the fact it often rains on picnics despite prayers for sun.

It is only the purest Atheists and Saints that arrive at the only solution to this chronic chaos I can envision. In the case of an Atheist there is no belief that prayer has any effect, so they accept reality as it is given. In the case of a Saint they say, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” so they too are accepting the Creation as the Creator created it.

If the general mass of humanity put the Creator first, and prayed for whatever weather He wants, we’d be living in a Garden of Eden, but the Creator didn’t create us that way. He must have a fondness for chaos, or at least be indulgent towards roughly seven billion children running around creating tornadoes out of serenity.

In any case, the people of New England are getting so fed up with winter there may be a slight chance a partial unity is occurring, and the power of all thoughts are deflecting storms south and out to sea. (On the other hand, perhaps the deep snow-cover is creating an increase in the high pressure over New England.)

LOCAL VIEW —BESIDE BOSTON’S BLIZZARD—(Updated twice)

We only have three feet of snow up here in our hills, which is not all that rare. I know it is getting bad when the snow gets up to the top rail of the garden fence. Ordinarily I only need drive down south fifteen miles or so, to where the “flatlanders” live, and snow depths drop off dramatically. My sister, who lives in Watertown right up the Charles River from Boston, often has bare ground and is amazed when I send her pictures of drifts up to the eves of the barns snow-shedding roof. Not this year. Boston is buried.

Its not really  fair for people who live in areas that have more snow to laugh at people who don’t, when they do. I used to work for a guy who lived by Lake Erie when young, and he would roll his eyes when people in New England exclaimed at snows of over a foot, saying it was merely a flurry, compared to lake-effect snows. (He neglected to mention how localized such snow is, how light and fluffy it is, and how lake-effect snows shut down nearly completely once Lake Erie freezes over.) Furthermore, he muttered and cursed as much as any New Englander when he had to deal with the conditions created by coastal snows.

It is hard enough when dealing with a foot or two, but now Boston has had 80 inches, most of it in the past 21 days. Despite settling and a little thawing there are 4 to 5 feet in places. They are not used to it. It is difficult to prepare for what has not happened in the lifetime on anyone alive.

Now they are expecting another foot, with temperatures at 10° ( -12.2 ° Celsius) and winds that could gust as high as 70 mph. It is a time to hope the forecast is wrong. The city will be shut down if it is correct.

Up in these hills we are basically onlookers. We will be greatly inconvenienced by more snow, but not shut down.

We began this morning with a blast of cold air. Temperatures kept dropping even after the sun rose from 7.9° at 5:00 AM to 1.9° around 8:30. Wind whipped yesterday’s 2 inches around as dazzling clouds of stinging white. And this is just yesterdays storm blowing up, as it moves away far out to sea. The next clipper is expected to blow up nearly on top of us. We shall see.

Right now the low looks very innocent, over South Dakota. It’s pressure is at 1021 mb, which likely makes Europeans chuckle, as they call that high pressure. If the forecast is correct, it could be east of Boston in 48 hours with a pressure of 960 mb.

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The radar shows only a small patch of snow out west.

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This should be fun to watch, but I can only do that if I don’t have to go out in it, so I’d better get to work on my chores. I’ll update when I can.

UPDATE #1 —Brutal cold funeral—

Yesterday’s high was only 8.1°, (-13.3° Celsius), despite a brilliant sun. The wind was cruel, and it was one of the rare days when the children at our Childcare didn’t go outside, despite our focus on the outdoors. I might have taken a few of the more energetic children out for a half hour or so, for I noticed our goats did leave the shelter beneath the barn to wade through the deep snow and eat the ceder shingles off the side of one of our out-buildings, so I knew there were sunny patches out of the wind worth visiting, albeit briefly. However, right in the middle of the day, my dwindling church was hosting a fairly large funeral, for a small town.

It was in some ways an impossible task, as the smarter members of the church are in Florida, either retired or on vacation, and on paper it looked like seven people had to host a funeral three hundred might attend. It was a task we were sort of stuck with, as we are the “community church”, the tiresome Calvinist remnant of the original 150 European settlers, who at one point were the government of the town, and who became so vocal that the rest of the USA took a condescending view and called New England the “Bible Belt” (the same way that people view parts of the American South, today).  Obviously a reaction occurred, as New England now is home of just about the most virulent distaste towards Christianity imaginable, in various liberal guises. (Some would rather take LSD and converse with a chunk of crystal quartz, than put up with a preacher.) Be that as it may, we happen to have a big building, if not a big membership, and this means we have this thing called the “facilities” for a funeral. So we were stuck with the darn job.

The weather was uncooperative, unless some prayer was answered that pushed the last storm out to sea. It took a major effort just to clear the parking lots. Then the wind howled behind that storm, and even though it “missed” us, it whirled clouds of stinging snow about. I found time to zip over to the church in the orange twilight before dawn to shovel the drifts from the doorways, focusing on the handicapped ramp over which the coffin would be rolled. Then, feeling virtuous, I hustled off to open the Childcare. The wind hustled to build a new drift, and then a elderly lady, arriving to work in the kitchen, shoveled away the drift a second time. However when the coffin arrived it bogged down in a third drift, and the guys from the funeral home had to do some swift work. Maybe they put chains on the wheels of their coffin-roller. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

I showed up briefly after dropping off the gang-of-six at kindergarten, and was amazed at the hive of activity. As a person who was opposed to the draft in the Vietnam war, I am reluctant to draft anyone into any activity, however other church members have no such scruples.  Things got done. Even the programs to be handed out to people entering the church involved work as clocks approached midnight, the night before,  but they were done. I take no credit. I was having a hard time finding time to change into my suit.

The gang-of-six had some choice remarks to make about me being “:dressed funny” when I picked them up from the half-day kindergarten and dropped them off at the Childcare, and they frowned on me for not staying. However I was late to a funeral.

It was great to see our church filled, for a change, and have it be for a good fellow who taught shop at the school for 40 years. Some day I hope to tell how, like a pebble dropped into a small pond, his influence spread out like ripples, and there is fabric on the surface of Mars, amazing glass-walled hotel lobbies with two-story-tall trees growing in them, and lazer technology used by the construction industry, which can be traced back to his shop class. For now, let it suffice to say he was remembered well, got a good “send off”, and we had a “celebration of life”.

Of course, none of that really matters when facing the starkness of death. We can “celebrate life” all we want, but death has a nasty habit of reducing all such banter to absurdity. Especially when a good man wasn’t even seventy years old when he died. Under such duress, perhaps people just need to cry.

Having faced that winter, it was time to change back to my work-clothes and hustle about facing a less important winter. And less important details.  Such as the fact that, if the coming storm doesn’t blow like crazy while dropping only a modest amount of snow, I will have to prop a ladder by sheds and barns and start shoveling roofs. However I am hoping the wind blows the powder snow off those roofs.

The evening maps still showed no storm. Just a little clipper. It is amazing that forecasters can talk of winds gusting to 75 mph in Boston, and 40 mph away from the coast in these hills, when there is basically nothing to see.

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Temperatures had crashed below zero to -1.6° (-18.7° Celsius), by 9:00 PM.

UPDATE #2  —GRAY MORNING—

I was up briefly a little after midnight to stick some wood in the fire, and noticed temperatures had risen to +1.1°, as a thin overcast slid over. A quick glance at the wee hour maps showed nothing very impressive.

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I doubt I would be particularly concerned, beyond my usual suspicions about any storms, were in not for the media. Though people like to laugh at the forecasters, in this case they have people who would otherwise be caught off guard very much on guard.

Temperatures  took another nosedive as the patch of clouds slid away and stars shone and I did the sensible thing, which was to go back to bed. They had dropped to -6.9° (-21.6° Celsius) in the dusk before dawn, when a new deck of clouds slid over and turned the day gray.

The radar shows the area of snow to our west expanding, and the map shows the clipper to our northwest a little stronger, but to the layman the maps continue to look fairly innocent. Who would guess a blizzard would be exploding just off the coast in 12 hours? You can see how the fishing fleet, back in the days of sail, might sniff a south wind and decide to dare head out, and be caught. There was one storm that wiped out something like a third of the fleet back in the 1800’s. . And those old-timers knew their weather lore. So perhaps we ought give meteorologists more credit than we do.

Now I’ve got to get cracking. starting by loading up the porch with firewood.

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UPDATE #3 —The first wave—

Very light snow started early, at 9:00 AM, as I hustled to get wood onto the porch. It didn’t show on the radar, but caused consternation. Temperatures had risen fairly swiftly into the teens, and we had a slight south wind, and I suppose were in a vague warm sector of the clipper, though the map showed the warm front to the west. As the snow expanded in the radar it formed two distinct areas, the first passing over us and associated with the warm front, and the decond diving down through northern Virginia and associated with the potential blizzard.

It was the first we had to deal with, as the snow gradually increased. We hit our high temperature of 16.3° as the snow began to thicken, and then the snow seemed to cool things, and temperatures were fairly level, but inching down.

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It being valentine’s day, my wife and I attempted to squeeze a little romance into the hectic storm preparations, and planned to eat out, after some shopping and a grandson’s basketball game one town away. However as the snow kept getting heavier the game was delayed and the crowd nervous about getting home, it was hard to feel relaxed. In the end we got spooked and skipped eating out and drove home through heavy snow at around 25 mph, getting home shortly before the heavy snow began tapering off, as the first area of snow moved east.

The map shows the storm has dipped down to west southwest  of us, and the second pocket of snow is surprising folk down in Maryland.

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Now the stars have come out, and if I was a farmer back in the days before a weather bureau I might think the storm had passed, as the winds have shifted around to the northwest. However I might scratch my jaw a little, because it is fifteen degrees warmer than last night, as if a warm front has passed and the cold front hasn’t hit us yet. Also I’d notice my bones ache with the falling pressure.

The temperature has only dropped to 12.2° (-11° Celsius) despite clearing skies and around four inches of fresh powder. So far there has been little wind. The pressure is 29.52 and falling. An old farmer would note that “falling glass” and rumple his brow.

Actually, with the stars out, I think I’ll call this “snow-event” officially over, and call tomorrow’s snow a different event, worthy of a different post.

Back in the 1600’s and in the early 1700’s there were terrible winters where Boston had 26 storms.  I’ve lost count this winter, but by stretching the definition of “snow event” a little we might be able to challenge the record.

LOCAL VIEW —Duster’s Bluster—

I’ll count my blessing, as a second blizzard intensified explosively out to sea just far enough, on Friday evening, to clobber Maine, but only clip us.  I’m not sure I could take more snow-removal, though I suppose you do what you have to, when you have to.

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(In the lower left of that last radar shot you can already see the next storm coming.)

As the blizzard hit Maine the winds on the west side began to pick up, as the isobars tightened. (Click, or open to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge maps.)

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Temperatures plunged in the roaring wind, and it was 2.6° (-16.3° Celsius) on Saturday morning. I was hoping the snow would have been just damp enough to form a crust and prevent drifting, but if any crust did form it was too fragile to stand up to the wind, which soon was digging down into the powder snow heaped up by last Tuesday’s blizzard. As the sun rose white in dazzlingly clear skies, the air was sparkling with tiny flakes of wind lifted snow.

I watched from inside at first. There was no way I wanted to go out in that wind. I’m not hot-blooded like my middle son, who headed out to cross country ski with his girlfriend.  When I decided I could hazard the heated cab of my truck and go to pick up some hay and grain for my goats, I passed “Windblown”, the local cross-country-ski area where I once worked and even ran a snack bar, twenty-five years ago, and saw business was booming, so I suppose my son isn’t the only person who enjoys being incredibly uncomfortable.

The roads were dry, and then you’d suddenly hit a place where the snow had drifted over the tar. Usually it was when there was an open field to the north or west, but occasionally it would be in the trees, and know the tree trunks must have formed some sort of coincidental, funneling tunnel. Sometimes the pavement would simply be powdered white, but in a few places the road would abruptly be deep, rutted snows. You had to make sure to keep your steering straight, and neither accelerate nor brake, until the pavement was dry again.

It was a wind that made you wince, and my goats had the sense to stay out of it. They’d found a south-facing area under the barn where they could stand in the sun and avoid the wind. They are not at all pleased by deep snow, as they don’t like walking where they can’t see what their feet are trodding upon, and are far less likely to wander and eat the neighbor’s shrubs, once the snows get deep. They are also more crabby, and take it out on each other, and give me glances as if they are contemplating taking it out on me, so I strongly advise them not to even think of it. The cold gives them a voracious appetite for the grain, and they are even less dismissive of hay than usual.

The chicken’s water was frozen, so I had to attend to thawing the dispenser and refilling it with warm water. By then my fingers felt like blocks of wood, and even my dog was standing by the door of the truck, ready to head home, which is unusual.  Temperatures had already started down, after reaching the day’s high of 12.7° (-10.7° Celsius.)

It was nice and warm at home. One of the benefits of deep snow on the roof of a 250-year-old house with lousy insulation is that it acts as a blanket, Also the pipes are less likely to freeze, with the foundation tucked in by white blankets of drifts. However I became suspicious when I noticed it was 70° by the front entry and only 60° on the kitchen where the wood stove was roaring, so I checked the thermostat for the propane heat. Sure enough, my son had turned it up, as like most young men he prefers his girlfriend warm. But he doesn’t pay the bill.

Now it is down to -3.5° (-19.7° Celsius) at 6:30 on a Sunday morning, and the wind has died down.  Already we have a winter storm warning for 7-12 inches of snow on Monday, with the high temperature during the storm expected to be around 10° (-12° Celsius). That’s a nasty cold snow, and makes today’s expected high temperature of 25° (-3.9° Celsius) seem downright balmy.

The power grid is being tested to the limit by the cold all over New England, and the wisdom of shutting down two power plants this January, because our president doesn’t like coal, (and Big Oil doesn’t like competition), is seeming less wise. So far we’ve only had one short brown-out, (when a transformer fire caused all sorts of frantic adjustments to be made to keep the power going), but people will really howl if the power goes off just as everyone sits down to watch the Superbowl. But that probably won’t happen, as so few businesses are operating on Sunday night. Monday will be the first real test, with many businesses starting up and running at full blast, even as many kids stay home from school and household electricity usage stays high.

Last year the cold came down further west, and we were on the eastern edge of the below-normal blasts, but it looks like New England will be right in the bulls-eye for the cold as February starts, and people west of the Great Lakes will get spared.

Here are the maps of the lull before the next storm. (Click to enlarge.)

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LOCAL VIEW —Looking ahead lurking ahead—(Updated)

I am up with insomnia at three in the morning, grabbing the chance to type a brief post about all the local excitement about the chance of more snow.

The map shows a double barreled storm sliding east, with an Alberta Clipper center to the north and a sort of Rocky Mountain low center to its south.  The southern low holds some milder air.  Ordinarily it isn’t usually warmer in Minnesota than New Hampshire,  in January, however currently it is 34° (+1.1° Celsius) in Hutchinson (just west of Minneapolis) and -3.5° ( -19.7° Celsius) here. Tuesday’s blizzard, now weakening just north of Nova Scotia, has brought down some arctic air, and over fresh snow temperatures are plummitting lower than expected.

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Ordinarily I would hope this mildness might make it east, and we might even get rain.(In the winter of 1978 the first blizzard was followed by a warm, windy rain as the second blizzard moved north over the Great Lakes, and then a third blizzard hit the east coast.) However last night it seemed the cold air would be slow to be budged from over us,  and we might get an inch. Everyone was looking ahead to a following storm coming north from Texas on Sunday, and talking about a possible foot of snow then.

Now I check our local forecast, and see this first storm is suppose to give us 4-6 inches. I can hardly wait to hear the snow gossip this morning. It is likely to be an uproar.

I will try to update this post later, with details of the uproar, but I have to attend a meeting today that involves delicate diplomacy, which is something I am not very good at. I’m much better at uproars. So I fear my mind will be occupied until the evening.

UPDATE

As if I didn’t have enough to do, there was a coincidental miss-match of sick employees and over-booked family members, and I was the only one with time even remotely “free”, and I had to do nothing for five hours. Or, well, watching a one-year-old granddaughter isn’t exactly nothing, but you can get nothing done. I had various papers laid out on a table, upstairs at the Childcare, but couldn’t focus on that sort of work for five seconds. If I tried the toddler would go wobbling off at amazing speed towards some life-threatening curiosity. There are so many interesting things to investigate when you are first up and about: Electrical sockets and cords, the area under the sink full of caustic cleansers, the burning hot side of a wood stove, steep back staircases.  I was reduced to trailing her constantly, like some sort of hawk up above, trailing a stampede of small elephants.

It’s amazing what you can do when you have to, but I’m getting too old for this nonsense. For the life of me I don’t see how young mothers manage, especially when they have not one, but two or three. How can they find time to feed anyone? If I was a Mom the family would starve.

I did have the weather radio clicked on in the background, and listened as various watches and warnings bleeped into existence. It was completely confusing to the general public, as they needed around four forecasts for the general vicinity. A storm looks likely to blow up as it moves off the coast, so areas not far to our northeast could get a foot, while areas to our south and west get an inch or two.

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The radar shows snow over us, but it isn’t reaching the ground yet. As the storm brews up over the Atlantic it looks likely to howl and whatever snow we do have will be whipped about. The say it will become bitterly colder, but for the moment it is calm and just below freezing, which seems mild to my winterized metabolism.

At the meeting (which went better than I expected) every person had a different idea of what the weather was going to be. That is what you get when the weather bureau issues four different forecasts for a distance you can cross in an hour-long-commute. And, considering the long-range forecast had everyone in a tizzy to to begin with, the storm-gossip gets completely out-of-hand when gets going four ways at once. I’ll deal with it in the morning.

LOCAL VIEW —POST BLIZZARD POST—

I couldn’t post last night as I had to go outside and clean up the snow, and it took over four hours. It is interesting how different the experience of snow is when you go out into it.

Not that I don’t get a lot from simply sitting in front of a computer and looking at maps. The sequence below shows the gale center occluding, and a small low I call the “zipper” forming where the warm front joins the cold front.

The occluded front represents an upper air pipeline pumping moisture to the center of the gale. A lot depends on how quickly this pipeline is squeezed shut. I’ve seen cases where it persists, and huge amounts of tropical air are injected into the gale. (For example, during the “Perfect Storm” in 1991, Hurricane Grace to the southeast sent pulses of moisture in.) I’ve also seen cases where the low is cut off quickly, and the “zipper” has rocketed off across the Atlantic, arriving off the coast of Ireland in only 24 hours even as the parental gale slowly dwindles back between Greenland and Labrador.

This sort of stalled low is much more common in the North Atlantic, and people in Europe probably wonder why we make such a big deal when they stall this far south. The difference is we see fewer of them, and also Europeans don’t have the frigid tundra of Canada pouring so much cold air in, and often see rain where we see snow. (To the west of Europe, that is. To the east they have Siberia, which is no laughing matter.)

This particular gale formed a little further east and north of the position which hammers New York City. The Blizzard of 1888 formed south of Long Island, and New York  City got feet of snow while Boston, on the warm side, only got a couple inches of slush. This storm gave Boston feet, as New York City largely escaped. (Click maps, or open them to a new tab, to enlarge and clarify.)

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The radar was fascinating to watch, as waves of snow came west from the storm, and then took a sharp left turn and headed south once they ran into the land. You can see an outer band of snow fade away over Vermont, even as a new band comes inland over New Hampshire, giving us our final inch here, before it too faded away.

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Driving over to the farm wasn’t too bad. The snow was cold and squeaky, and that sort of snow is less slippery. It is almost like driving on sand. Also I had snow tires. It may enter weather lore that, “A sure sign a big snow is coming is when a stingy, old Yankee buys snow tires for the first time in fifteen years.”

Arriving at the farm, I accelerated and piled through the wall of snow the plows erected in the entrance. This is an unwise thing to do when the snow is wet and heavy, as you can wind up stranded with your rear wheels off the ground and without traction, but when the snow is powder it just makes a wicked cool explosion of white, and you have to turn on your wipers after you stop, to see how far into the drive you made it. The experience is very gratifying to the little boy in me.

I never much like to start, because everything is so smooth and streamlined, and even to tramp footprints across the sweep of white seems a little disrespectful of art, and like a sort of sacrilege. However the desecration is necessary to conduct business, so, with the guilt of a tycoon operating a strip mine, I started up the snow-blower.

Then it was four straight hours of noise. The wind doesn’t seem to like the competition, and blows the snow right back at you. It doesn’t seem to matter which way you aim the chute. If you aim it down wind, the wind swings around and down wind becomes up wind. But that may just be the wind’s sense of humor. The wind does have a sense of humor, and I learned this long ago, when raking leaves.

The snow had nearly stopped, but the wind gusts more powerfully at the farm, due to fewer trees, and at times very little of the arching stream of snow shooting from the chute made it to the ground. The wind caught it and swirled it far away down wind as a billowing puff of inconsequential chaff,  unless it decided to wash my face with it, in which case it did seem consequential, to me at least.

I had go slow, in  lowest gear, the snow was so deep. Then I broke two sheer pins when I scooped up a rock, and with only four of six blades scooping, I had to go slower. (There was no way I was going to put new sheer pins in in that  wind.)

Night fell, and I worked in the floodlights. The world swirled as a kalidascope of black and white. The swirls stood out against the black background, and I noted how may dust-devil-like dancers their were, and how seldom the wind blew straight. I tried to get all scientific about micro-weather in a microcosm, but my mind began drifting in my weariness, and I preferred to think I was walking among a bunch of snowy white dancers defying the darkness. (No, I don’t think it was hypothermia setting in.) (Maritime air had mixed into the storm’s bitter chill, and temperatures were slow to fall from the day’s high of 20.1°)

There is no satisfaction quite like a job being done, and driving home to a waiting dinner, and then sleeping the sleep of well-earned weariness, still watching the white angels dancing in the dark.

Now it’s a new day. They have cancelled school again, but our Childcare is open for business, and roughly half the children will be coming, as roughly half the parents are getting back to work.  I can see a few stars midst the clouds, and the temperature has dropped to 5°.  The first green of dawn dusk peeks through cracks between sliding silhouette clouds of black purple, to the east.

LOCAL VIEW —SNOWBOUND—

It was a wild and woolly morning, with heavy snow swirling in a strong breeze and the temperature at 9° (-13° Celsius), as my middle son hustled out the door to join my eldest son in his plow. Very soon the truck’s tracks were but fussy dents in the drive. (Among other contracts, my son has the contract for a pharmacy parking lot that needs to be plowed “every two inches” during a storm, because people will head out into bad weather for medicine.) They’ll be at it all day.

I wish I had bugged the cab of the truck with listening devises. It must be interesting when big brother orders younger brother out to do the hand work with a shovel, and then sits back in the heated cab to watch. Ah, the benefits of seniority!”  (Not that I myself see many.)

After that there just was peace, with only an occasional plow passing on the road, sounding muffled. The wind slacked off and the sky brightened a little and the snow became less thick, and all in all it actually seems a quite ordinary January storm, with about a foot of powder,  and a fair amount of drifting in the breeze. I expect I’ll start to clean up in the mid-afternoon, but for the moment I’m just enjoying the quiet.

Ordinarily people would be out and about already, but there was so much hoopla about this storm that everyone seems to be crouching indoors, expecting the start of World War Three. Fairly soon I expect they will start peeking out windows, and realize things aren’t all that back, and the peace and quiet will be disturbed. Until then, I’ll enjoy it.

The barometer is down at 29.55, (1000 mb) which isn’t all that low. The breeze looks to be around 15 to 20 mph, which isn’t all that high. A foot of snow isn’t all that deep. The temperature is up to 20.1° (-6.6° Celsius) which isn’t that cold. I really shouldn’t have closed the Childcare, and spoiled our record of never being closed. However I must admit it feels good to goof off, and now that I’ve set the precedent, I may do it more often.

It looks to me like the storm moved further out to sea than they expected. The snow is slacking off, and I even saw the sun, dim and remote, through the grey overcast streaming swiftly overhead from the northeast. Now we wait to see if the storm dawdles east of Boston, and throws any backlash bands of snow our way.

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Well, at least I have the time to read the start of “Snow-bound”, by John Greenleaf Whittier, which seems surprisingly up to date, considering it is 150 years old, and especially considering it was deemed out of date by some even when it was written. The start goes:

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
Meanwhile we did our nightly chores,—
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The cock his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.
Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

The rest will have to await some evening, when I have more time. The entire poem is a short book. It is one of those rare  poems that actually made money for the poet.

A quick glance out the window shows the noon’s grown darker, and the snow has picked up again.  Hmm. Maybe it isn’t slacking off, after all.

I’ll try to update later.