LOCAL VIEW –Awaiting–

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Consider the plight of the bedraggled
Daffodil, native to the sunny slopes of Spain’s
South coast, with the Mediterranean’s sea-gulled
Waters stretched out below, but feeling pains
Known by the north, because northern women
Wanted sunny yellow, and men transplanted
Bulbs far from native soils. Bulbs wake and then
Poke up into chill, a landscape poets ranted
Was unfair in Aprils a millennium
Ago, and still rant is far, far too cruel.
Up comes the daffodil, and we see them
And shake our heads, and call each a fool
But is it their fault? Or have we recanted
Belief in the blooms that we ourselves planted?

Spring continues to tantalize like the apple dangled on a string in front of a recalcitrant donkey, to keep it plodding forward. It lures from the five-day-forecast, but the present sees snow falling from leaden skies.

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I do not control the sunshine. The sense of helplessness is made worse by the fact my daughter is in labor at the moment. I remember how helpless I felt when my wife was giving birth, but at least I was there, and she said she was glad I was there even though I felt useless while “being useful.” Now it seems even worse, as a grandfather. I pace about the house and look out upon a landscape of slush.

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Come on, Old Sol. Burst through the clouds and shine.

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LOCAL VIEW –Unsprung Spring–(With Snowy Monday Morning Update)

Spring sprung like the squirrel’s black silhouette
Through the inked claws of naked branches
Against a slate sky overhead. It can’t get
Any colder in April. My spirit blanches
At the breeze, and the poor squirrel flees
My upturned face, though I mean it no harm.
It skitters tree to tree, and all my pleas
That it pause go ignored. I cannot charm
It, nor woo it with prayers. Where’s it going?
Why won’t it stay? Cold winds keep on blowing
And sleet only stops to start the snowing.
Sanity ducks, and my numbed hope’s knowing
A shivering song’s the best I have sung.
I’ll plod many more miles, before this spring’s sprung.

This is one of the coldest springs I can remember. I can remember an April back around 2006 or 2007 that started out bitterly cold and snowy, and was actually colder than the mild January we had that year, but it relented by the middle of the month. This year there is little sign the cold will be relenting.

Not that we don’t get our spells of brilliant sunshine, but it hasn’t fooled the trees. The buds are just barely starting to bulge a bit. However it does fool the children. They explode off the school bus at our Childcare full of an energy I equate with spring, for it is boundless, though they do bound a lot.

I suppose I could plant the peas, but the rototiller  has a fouled carburetor. Anyway, I have to clean up the tree damage caused by roaring winds, because March went out like a lion and April came in like a lion, and I’m not lying. The kids wanted me to leave the tree as a low budget playground toy, but it blocked an important path.

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The locals call this sort of leaning tree a “widow maker”, because they can do unpredictable things as you cut them down. Not that one has ever nailed me, but I have seen them swing or roll, and I cut with care. You need to notch the top and then cut from the underside, or else the slumping log pinches on the saw’s blade and you can’t remove it. This particular tree simply thudded down at the base, with the branches still hung up in other trees, so I was presented with a tree in the same situation, only slanting a little more steeply. I kept cutting and cutting, with sections thudding down and the tree becoming tilted more and more steeply, until the tree was vertical.  Then I cut a final chunk off, and the tree was dangling. Hmm. I cut logs off until what remained of the tree was at chest level, at which point the dangling section of tree didn’t seem likely to crush me, so I tugged at it and brought it down. Nor did I totally ruin the playground toy, for the children like rolling logs down the hill.

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While I had the saw out I cleaned up some birches that were weakened by the goats gnawing off bark a few years ago, and couldn’t withstand the past winter.

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I dragged the boughs over to the goats, who, at this point in an endless winter, appreciate any change in diet.

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Already the sun was dimming, and soon the view changed from April back to February.

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It turned out it was a good thing we’d cut wood, for a campfire was appreciated.

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It’s especially hard to get children to wear hats and gloves in April snows. It is as if they can feel the high sun even through clouds. (I can’t).

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In November such a snow can hang around for days, because the sun is so low, which is annoying if you haven’t finished raking the leaves. In April the high sun can melt such a snow in hours, which is also annoying, if you want an excuse to avoid raking the leaves you didn’t get around to raking in November.

April snows aren’t all that unusual this far north. The locals call them “poor man’s fertilizer” because some sort of reaction puts nitrogen from the air into the snow, and when the ground is unfrozen that nitrogen can penetrate down into the soil. But what was unusual this year was that the cold wouldn’t quit. Unfrozen parts of the reservoir skimmed over with fresh ice, and the children’s sand-pile reverted to “candle ice”.

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Dawns saw dustings of snow.

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Finally, last Friday, a warm surge from the south fought north, and the very edge of it made it to us, before the cold to the north, and the cold waters of the Atlantic, fought back with a back-door-cold-front, and with chilling winds from the northeast. It was over 80°F (27°C) in New York City on Friday, and nudged over 60°F (14°C) here. I made the children wear rain pants due to mud, but their coats were strewn all over the playground, and they relished running in short sleeves. But …..then yesterday (Saturday) saw a mild morning give way to a return to the cold,

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And now the Sunday morning radar map looks like this:

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That really does look like a February map. Oh well. I suppose if we are going to be miserable we might as well try to set a record, but I don’t think I’ll be putting on shorts and running in the Boston Marathon, tomorrow morning.

UPDATE; SUNDAY NIGHT

After a gray day with temperatures never above freezing, (very unusual for mid April), and a freezing drizzle glazing over everything, it has suddenly started snowing just as I was thinking of going to bed. A quick check of the radar shows this:

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The snow over Boston and Hartford is unexpected, as the rain-snow line was suppose to be further north. Also the blob of moisture came straight up from the south, so you’d think it would create rain or freezing rain. But it ran into such a wall of cold air it is creating snow. Let me check the map.

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The map also makes it look like we should be getting south or at least southeast winds, judging from the isobars. But we are getting “cross isobaric winds”, due to that big arctic high pressure over Hudson Bay.  We are getting northeast winds. You’d think there was a storm southeast of Cape Cod, rather than a storm due west, over the Great Lakes. This is nuts.

I’m glad I’m not a weathermen. They are only now moving the “winter weather advisories” south, and still have no mention of snow. Locally it is snowing to beat the band. My thermometer must be malfunctioning. It says it is 24°F (-4°C) out. Let me check nearby official sites.

Nearby it is 25°F in Ringe, New Hampshire. Even if it warms up, it looks like a messy Monday Morning. If it doesn’t warm up….

It seems even more unlikely I’ll be donning shorts and running in the Boston Marathon.

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE

Going Viral:

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Got out of bed and checked weather on cellphone:

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Hmm. More snow on Friday. But next Monday? Sunny and over sixty! Alleluia!

Well, I can dream, can’t I? But today is today. Trudge out to car:

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Arrive at work:

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Back roads are not suppose to be snow-covered in mid-April, but the snow fell during the night, when the sun could have no effect. As soon as the sun gets high in the sky it will penetrate the clouds and the roads will likely catch the rays and turn slushy and wet. Right now they are packed snow and very slippery. I think the road crews were caught off guard. Many trucks already had the plows removed from the fronts and the salters and sanders removed from the back. The roads were actually clearer in January.

Surprisingly, the weather is so absurdly bad people were cheerful, in a definitely ironic way. Hopefully the children haven’t put their snowsuits away, with our playground looking like this:

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Hopefully this snow will be swift to melt away, though it is amazingly sleety and dense. Shoveling two inches feels like hoisting ten. But as this snow lasts, covering all of New Hampshire and much of northern Massachusetts, it may cause an upward blip in the rather amazing snow-cover graph for North America. Ice-age, anyone?

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As a final note, though I know it will deeply disappoint many, I have decided against making an appearance in shorts in the Boston Marathon, today. I’d consider sled dogs, but it has turned to a cold rain down there.

Currently the snow doesn’t show on radar, but it is out there, fine like drizzle, and gusted by a nasty northeast wind. Thunder is heading up our way from down by Philadelphia. If it gets interesting, I may update again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Spring Snows–

I’m done my taxes, and could easily post a long rant, but I’m not in the mood. The government is wise to have taxes due on April 15, for at the end of a long winter people are at their weakest, and least likely to rebel. Rioting is reserved for the hot days of summer.

Instead I’ll quell my ire, and only allow a bit of subtle animosity to ooze by snickering, as a storm bears down on Washington D.C. Ha! Rather than the rains of cherry blossoms petals they expect, their hot air will be cooled by snowflakes. Hopefully the snow will cool their inventiveness, which all too often helps no one but themselves. They invent new taxes, such as the “Carbon Tax”, but it’s hard to tax people for Global Warming in a snowstorm. Why? Because rather than their taxing behavior seeming like “saving the planet”, it becomes too obvious what it actually is, which is highway robbery.

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I am just glad I listened to Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo (at the Weatherbell site) back in February, when they looked a little foolish by warning winter wasn’t over, when it looked like it was. The snow was gone, and we even enjoyed a delightful day with temperatures up around 72°F ( 22°C). I felt a little foolish for heeding them, and ordering extra firewood. Now I have to dig down through snow to get the wood, (which I never had time to stack, because the greedy government cares more about doing taxes than properly stacked wood.)

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Not that I have time to stack wood. The government prefers that I squint at 208 receipts. I’m hoping the approaching storm stays south, and clobbers Washington and not me, for my porch shows I’m not ready for a storm.

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Not that I have time to stack wood. I have to hurry to the Childcare. Thank God I have a staff that can keep an eye on things as I wade through business expenses for the government bookkeepers.

208 receipts. And nearly every one wrinkled. Many faded, from sitting on the dashboard of a truck, or made of some odd sort of paper that turns black when exposed to heat. Some with coffee stains, or a dog’s footprint in the center, from spending time on the seat of my truck. The government would not approve of my bookkeeping, but the government doesn’t work a Real Job. They don’t know what it is like to run a farm or a Childcare, where chaos is the rule. They expect all to be neat and tidy, and even calculate the time the paperwork should take, when they issue a new ordinance. How nice of them. I can just see them, in their cubical, figuring out it should take eighteen minutes to fill out the latest form.  They seem to think children and livestock will patiently wait, while I do paperwork. Nope. Doesn’t happen that way.

I arrive at the Childcare wondering if the children will even remember who I am, and they are delighted to see me. Funny. After a long day there is nothing I want more than to get away from the little imps, but as they rush up to hug my thighs I find myself moved. I suppose anything looks good, after government paperwork.

They are very exited and want to show me something they have done. So we head out through what passes as a springtime landscape in New Hampshire.

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Out at the bottom of the sledding hill I am shown an incredible wall built of huge snowballs.

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The energy involved must have been incalculable. I know the balls were pushed downhill, but they are bigger than the children are. The children are brimming with pride.

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The snow has been frozen rock hard in the 6°F (-14°C) overnight temperatures, but the sunshine is glorious, as bright as the last day of summer’s. However I notice a violation of government regulations. All playground toys over 36 inches tall must be surrounded by a soft bed of wood-chips two feet deep. What if a child fell off these snowballs? Or, not “if”, “when”. I nonchalantly inquire if any such event has happened. My staff informs me that yes, so-and-so slipped off and got a fat lip the day before, and cried for five minutes. I look to see how traumatized so-and-so has become due to the dreadful experience, and note so-and-so is right back atop a snowball.

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Still, there is simply no excuse for such violations of common-sense safety regulations. To top it all off, the wall was built right across the sledding trail. What were they thinking? Anyone sledding down the hill might experience a dreadful crash. The children must be immediately told to rip their stupid wall down. Do you want to tell them?

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Instead I want to tell the government something. The only problem is that I seem to be suffering a shortage of words that are not rude expletives.

Just let me say I hope it snows like heck on Washington D.C. today.

(Aren’t you glad I didn’t write a rave?)

My whole life’s a charitable deduction.
That’s the whole point of my poor poetry,
But the government wants a reduction,
And prefers greed, to generosity.
Golden Spring’s in the wings, and it’s waiting
For those fools to quit their contradiction.
Golden Promise is king, but abdicating
Because fools clamor for crucifixion,
But you cannot kill God. There’s no winter
That’s never ended by Spring, nor midnights
Unbroken by dawns. Icicles splinter,
Falling from eves. Drops trickle. Song delights
As even cold-hunched birds must free a sweet peep
And spring-fevered children awake from their sleep.

Not Local –Shipwrecked–

We never did find the chest of gold we were after, as we swooped like vultures to the storm-ravaged coast of Maine.

It is an old New England tradition to be a beachcomber, seeking through the flotsam and jetsam and lagan and derelict, and then running like heck when we find anything valuable, to avoid the maritime lawyers who know the definitions of flotsam and jetsam and lagan and derelict. All New Englanders, at least in spirit, once walked the shores after storms. Even when a person didn’t “go to sea”, the sea was part of a New Englander’s life.

The sea is in New Englander’s blood, though I’m not so sure about young whippersnappers, these days. They seem to prefer the virtual world of the web, but my grandchildren came along with me, as I hoped to give them a transfusion of Yankee blood by osmosis. Not that I belabored. I was in no mood to lecture them, and mostly was obeying a craving all my own.

I blame my craving on my doing my taxes. Doing taxes makes me slightly insane, and I find I crave the sea, because the sea does not obey bookkeepers or lawyers or governments. You can claim you own the sea but you can’t fence it. And from time to time the sea goes wild and smashes people who think they own parcels of property, when they are in fact stewards.

In any case, I wanted to see the ribs and keel of an old “pinky”. What is a pinky?  A pinky was a small, square-rigged ship that carried cargo along the coasts of New England two hundred years ago. The recent storms had exposed the skeleton of such a ship at Short Sands Beach in Wells, Maine.

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However we were too late.  We parked in a parking lot that was only usable after  a front-end-loader rumbled about scooping away all the sand and cobbles the gale deposited on the asphalt.  It still wasn’t up to tourist-season snuff, but we could park.

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But the problem was that the front-end-loader had to dump all the cobbles and sand somewhere, and the closest and most logical place was the beach, and then the second gale came along and spread the sand around and nearly buried all signs of the pinkie, except the bow.

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My grandchildren were not all that impressed by a few beams of the stern we could expose.

The pinkie had been earlier exposed by especially bad storms, and in the past samples of its wood have been taken. It is made of local trees, back when people knew how to cut trees and make a boat of them. But one odd thing is that this wreak has no name, and has no history. I gather no tree-ring studies have been made of its wood. It was a craft that was for the most part pegged together; if there was any metal in the wreak it was long ago salvaged. There is no local memory of who owned it, and no way to date the wreak without deeper studies. It could have beached as early as 1750, or as late as 1870.  It was a minor, undistinguished ship at a time when the waters were crowded with ships, even in the winter, for ships defined the word “shipping”. There were no tractor trailer trucks,  and no railway boxcars.  To get most any goods from here to there involved men going to sea.

“Going to sea”.  Oh, it sounds like heaven to me, as I face doing my taxes. I feel I live in a society of pencil-necked, needle-nosed geeks, who haven’t a clue of what the word “risk” means. I was born too late, and looking to sea I do not see a single sail.

The only people who sail nowadays are fat-cat millionaires, and sailing is their arrogant luxury. You will not see them out on the dangerous waters of the month of March. (I confess; I’m jealous. If I had a boat, I’d likely stay in my nice warm mansion in March as well.)

But once these waters were full of sails. Short Sands Beach is sheltered by Cape Neddick, which had a small island called “The Nubble” off its end. If a lighthouse had existed, perhaps the pinkie would have found its away around the cape, but no lighthouse existed until 1879. Then the Cape Neddick Light guided sailors with light and horn, in the gales and fogs of March.

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On the other side of Cape Neddick lies Wells Harbor, where ships could hide from Nor’easters. But when the winds swung to the southeast they had to hug the northern side of the harbor to avoid the surf that came charging in, as it did last week when our first March gale exploded off our coast.

When these winds howl, something that has the nice name of “spillover” occurs. It means the waters spill over from the sea-side of coastal dunes to the marshes on the landward side of those dunes. But “spill” sounds like it only involves a coffee cup. In fact it involves a raging ocean that treats cobbles like grains of sand. It is no joke if you happen to live on a barrier island between sea and marsh. Your front lawn becomes a cobble beach.

The cobbles clatter and rattle as the waves roar by your house, down to the tidal river seen from your back door.

At this point, though you never meant to “go to sea”, you are at sea. You understand there is a power that could care less for the property values of your shore-front property, or the fact you put your business signs to the legally prescribed  depth in the shifting sands.

And it is at this point many think it is wiser to flee the sea. The sea is too uncivilized. It has no respect for the progressive aspect of government, which wants all safely clamped. Such houses should be abandoned.  Why, then, do I thirst to “go to sea”?

To the north the next danger thrusting out from the mainland is Portland Head.  We went up that way to search for treasure exposed by the storm. The coast was all rocks, so it seemed treasure would be less likely to be buried by sand.

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As we searched we of course could not help but notice the Portland Head Lighthouse, which now seems but an anachronism, as if it was built by Disney to increase the tourist trade. But the truth is that it dates from when sails could be seen in the winter months, back when, when you shipped something, it involved ships.

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Eventually we grew discouraged about finding boxes of gold coins, and wandered up to the lighthouse, and saw the storms had  attempted to erase the message on the ledge next to the light.

The graffiti  hints life was different, back when men “went to sea”. There were no guarantees, even on Christmas Eve, that you would reach a safe harbor.  Not even a lighthouse’s light and horn could always save you from a wreak.

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I’m not sure what the circumstances were. Did the wind die as the tidal current increased? Was it foggy and still, or abruptly crisp and clear with a sudden gale? Whatever happened, you can be sure the captain was embarrassed, especially as his wife was aboard. After all, it was Christmas Eve, and they were so very close to the safety of Portland Harbor! But I do notice that they left no sails up. They tidied up the ship, clambered onto the ledge, and then the lighthouse keeper dropped a long ladder to the ledge, and they all clambered to the safety of shore. Merry Christmas! What a miracle! (But then, of course, there were probably a lot of legal details, involving flotsam and jetsam and lagan and derelict, to deal with, but only after the holiday.)

Odd. Why should hearing of this calamity that occurred nearly 150 years ago make me want to “go to sea?” Shouldn’t  I strive to avoid the fickle winds, and the uncertainty of those days, when shipping involved ships?

I simply feel some treasure is involved. Perhaps it is not cold gold. Perhaps it is a sort of goodness. Is there anything like a lighthouse keeper in the modern world? If you crashed into a ledge on Christmas Eve, would anyone try to rescue you, these days?

Whatever the treasure was, I couldn’t quite grasp it. But I did find one final bit of treasure I couldn’t grasp, before we headed home. As I took a last walk on a sandy beach I noticed the sea had not only beaten back the dune grass that was attempting to encroach seawards to the beach, but it had chewed up huge amounts of kelp and seaweed that was attempting to encroach upon the beach from the seaward side. The surf built heaps of weed and kelp over three feet tall.

As I  looked at these heaps I couldn’t help but see it as a treasure. Not that I can lift such heavy gold, at my age, but I felt the vague memory of ambition.  If I was a younger man I’d hurry my pick-up truck to this beach, and, working fast, before any could call it environmentally unwise, I would load the truck to its springs with heaps of seaweed.

As a farmer, and landlubber, I see seaweed as superb fertilizer. I once knew a man who heaped seaweed on bare rock, planted seed potatoes in the weed, and when harvest time rolled around he didn’t have to dig. He just lifted the seaweed and there were dozens of potatoes to harvest.

As a farmer, and landlubber, I also know about “greensand”, which is created by nature when heaps of seaweed is buried with sand in an anoxic environment. I’d used greensand to make the heads of my cauliflower and broccoli absurdly large.

 Seaweed is indeed a treasure, if you are young and strong.  However I am not as ambitious as I used to be.  Nor are lobster-men, I surmised.  In the old days they’d bring their traps in before big storms, and even before winter began, but now the beach was strewn with foolish modern lobster-men’s storm-crumpled traps.

But then I wondered to myself. Perhaps modern lobster-men were not lazy, but more daring. And perhaps these bent and twisted lobster-traps on the shore were like the shipwrecked ships of those who dared “go to sea” long ago. Who was wiser? Modern lobster-men or their elders?

I could not decide. I could only stand and look out to sea, where sea gulls sat in the sun-brightened water. I closed my eyes and just listened, and felt a strange longing for a treasure I missed.

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There is something we’re missing in safety.
I stand by the sea, and I long.
The land has built dikes, and has braced me.
The land thinks it’s mighty and strong.
But something by land’s sure to crumble.
It can’t withstand gales from the east,
And now the land’s starting to grumble
And ban fish from our Friday’s feast.


I’m baffled, and slump by the storm-wracked beach
And close my eyes, and hear surf suck and thump
And hiss, as the crazy gulls wheel and screech.
I listen, and find my shoulders don’t slump.
I listen, and, feeling surf’s sun on my face,
I’m hearing a Truth that the land can’t erase.

LOCAL VIEW –The Thaw Before The Thtorm–

I have just past my sixty-fifth birthday, with no hope of retirement, and what used to be a joke isn’t all that funny any more. The joke? “I took my retirement back when I was young and could enjoy it”. Ha ha ha. Not all that funny, when you have heard it for the ninety-seventh time,  but I’m getting to be one of those old men who gets repetitive.

It’s also not all that funny when most of my friends are down in Florida, retired. In the old fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant, they were the ants, and squandered their youth loyally sticking to a tedious job, as I was free as a bird, because I was the grasshopper, making music as they worked. Now they have pensions and I don’t. Serves me right, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean I’m all that happy about the situation. If you detect a trace of bitterness in my words, it is because poets are suppose to die young; the grasshopper is suppose to be cut down by the first frost. I don’t see many grasshoppers around these parts bouncing about through the deep snows, but me? The snow gets me hopping, because the alternative is not pretty.

The motto of New Hampshire is “Live Free Or Die”, but in the winter sometimes it is more like “Get your Walkways Snow-Free or Die”, especially if your business depends on clean walkways, and the State Inspector will close you down if every fire-escape isn’t shoveled. I am not prone to foul language, but I have shocked myself with some of the choice vocabulary escaping my lips as I deal with the drifts, even while getting texts on my cellphone from friends reclining by sunny pools in Florida. Can it be that I am becoming a jealous and bitter old coot?

Temperatures have recently been above normal, but that isn’t really helpful this far north. Seven degrees above normal is still below freezing, and it is more likely to snow in this area, with temperatures up around freezing.

Last weekend just enough cold air slid south between southerly warm-sectors to give us snow, even though the warm-sectors were attached to storms that passed well to our north, which usually gives us rain. Saturday the forecast was for 1-3 inches, but Sunday morning dawned upon a fall of 7 inches. Rather than Sunday being a scripturally-correct (as opposed to politically-correct) “day of rest”, I had to clear up the parking lot and paths of my workplace, to prepare for Monday morning. It is bad enough I don’t get to retire to Florida; I don’t even get to rest on Sundays. (Bring out the violins, please.)

To be honest, the workweek’s forecast was for such nice, mild temperatures that I did the minimum of snow-clearing. I cleared the front entrance and the parking lot, but left the mild temperatures to clear the fire escapes and back stairs. If the dreaded inspector had leapt from bed early on Monday Morning, (unlikely), he would seen a reason to “write me up”, as the seven inches had only wilted to four.

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However I will  confess that a fall of sticky, wet snow does make running a Childcare easier, in terms of “curriculum”. This is especially true because certain youths do not seem to be born to sit in rows as children, to train them to sit in cubicles as adults, but rather are born to shift heavy weights outside.

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However so strong was the thaw that, despite the production of seven large snowballs, within twenty-four hours the warmth (and destructive older children) left little sign of the efforts.

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However it did allow me to send texts back to my pals lounging in Florida, which may be just a little bit mean. Or maybe not. After all, if they expect me to rejoice over how they are escaping winter, lounging by a pool, then they should rejoice over how the winter they thought they were escaping isn’t happening, and how I am not suffering, right? So today I sent them this:

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But you will notice, though the thaw continues tomorrow, there is a suspicious-looking snowflake on Thursday. After all, this is February, and New Hampshire isn’t Florida.

The sad fact of the matter is that old-timers always fretted when there was an especially warm spell in the middle of the winter. In some ways their worry seemed comical, as if they were dour pessimists who couldn’t enjoy good weather, for “it will have to be paid for.” However they had a method behind their glowering madness. Some of the biggest storms in the history of the east of the USA were preceded by delightful weather. The legendary “Blizzard of 1888” gave New York City four feet of snow with gusts of hurricane force hurtling between the tall building and heaping drifts to second-story windows. Such a storm would shut down the New York City even with modern plows. But it occurred between March 11 and March 14. What was the situation in New York City on March 10?

March 10, 1888 was a lovely early-spring day in New York City, with temperatures well up into the fifties. People had no idea of what was coming.

I have lost the link I once kept, but one wonderful discovery I once made, while wandering the web, was the description of the Blizzard of 1888 from the eyes of a fisherman who fished south of Long Island. Back in those days sailors had no GPS, computer forecasts, or even engines. They were called sailors because they sailed.

This sailor had headed out in delightful early-spring weather. Then the storm “blew up”. The fisherman described the sky becoming as purple as concord grapes with amazing speed, with flashes of lightning. Then he described the amazing battle with sails and sheets in screaming wind and blinding snow he endured just to get to shore alive, without a single fish to sell. Many other sailors didn’t make it. People paid a high price for fish in 1888, especially the fishermen’s wives.

fishermen-s-memorial

So I actually should be thankful to even make it to age sixty-five. One-hundred-thirty years ago not all that many made it. Still, I do manage to grouse a fair amount. There are days when sinking at sea seems like heaven to me, when I compare it dealing with a pack of small hellions at a Childcare.

And, in case you wonder, I have been at sea in a small boat in a big storm, and I do know the desperation involved. It is a hugely humbling experience, and little dignity is involved, for a roaring storm cares little about our mortal concept of “dignity”. Yet there is more dignity in that desperate situation than in being a sixty-five year old man dealing with a bunch of little whiny brats children experiencing challenges  to their sense of well-being and self-esteem.  Do modern children respect their elders? I think not.

Often I derive great joy from small children, but Lord Jesus didn’t say “derive great joy” from the little children. He said “suffer the little children”.

And at age sixty-five I confess there are days I roll my eyes to the sky and ask questions that are less than grateful. Is this the culmination of my life? To be a fucking babysitter childcare professional?

There is a story which likely isn’t true, but which makes many smile, involving a children’s-show radio personality called “Uncle Bob” or some such thing, who muttered at the end of a show, when he thought the microphone  was turned off and he was off the air, “That ought to keep the little bastards quiet for another week.” Even if the story is an urban myth, the fact it makes people chuckle (rather than look indignant) seems to suggest children are not all goodness and light, and are things we must “suffer”.

At age sixty-five I’d rather sit by a pool in Florida and study scripture. The fact I chose to take my retirement when I was young and could enjoy it seems like a bad choice to me now. However the choice of fisherman to go out fishing on March 10, 1888 likely seemed like a bad choice to them, on March 11. No matter how we chose to direct the course of our lives, we are bound to sail headlong into storms.

In New Hampshire this happens every cotton-picking year, and is called “winter”. Many retire here, but many don’t last long. Norman Rockwell be damned; pristine snowscapes get old after Christmas, and by February winter gets so old that they shortened the month to 28 days, just to speed up the progress to spring. As March arrives the last thing anyone wants is a huge storm.

However the future does not look tranquil to me. I had hopes that the so-called “arctic vortex” would keep the cold air trapped in a tight circle, whirling at the Pole, but instead that vortex moved south into Canada, and has been making the Canadian Archipelago so cold that even the Eskimos have been staying indoors.

Arctic chill at 85F below zero – So cold, Eskimos advised to stay inside!

My hope was that the cold would wobble back up to the Pole, where it belongs, but that would involve a positive NAO. Instead the exact opposite seems to be developing.

Bananas 2 gefs_nao_00(22)

If the NOA crashes (and I am deeply hoping this forecast is utterly wrong) then the so-called “arctic vortex” becomes deranged, and in layman’s terms this means the cold doesn’t stay north where it belongs. Instead it comes south to bump into the nice, juicy air of our thaw, and all hell can break loose. 1888 can reoccur.

When I look north I can see the amazing cold sitting there up in Canada, in maps Dr Ryan Maue’s hard work makes available at the Weatherbell site.

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The pink in the above map, up in Canada, represents the one temperature where Fahrenheit and Celsius actually agree, -40°. However I wonder to myself, “Is that normal, up there?” Fortunately Dr. Maue also has produced an “anomaly map”, which tells us if temperatures are above-normal or below-normal.

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The second map shows that the temperatures are thirty-degrees-below-normal, even by Canadian standards. To have that air come south and mingle with air that is thirty-degrees-above-normal by the standards of Chicago seems unwise to me. It is like mixing gasoline with a fire.

But it hasn’t happened yet. It is an amazingly mild night for February in New Hampshire, with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). Tomorrow it might touch 70°F (21°C).

Alfed E Neuman what-me-worry

 

In the warm thaw before the storm I bask
My old bones, like a sailboat sliding
Through slack seas, and try not to glumly ask
What the clouds on high foretell, for deciding
The word on high speaks of a hurricane
Spoils the brief joy of a midwinter day
Which smells like a rose midst the jabbing pain
Of thorns. Roses are brief, but thorns stay
All year. I’ll take flowers when they come,
Well aware that soon enough my loose belt
Will need to be hitched. For a time I’ll strum
My harp; not drum my fingers. I have felt
Cruel sleet before, and know it is best
To face a fierce storm after getting some rest.

*******

P.S.

Thursday’s text to friends in Florida:

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And a map to remember:

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They call it an anal ysis? Hmm…

LOCAL VIEW –Dust Versus Crust–

Robert Frost wrote a poem I often recite in the winter woods, as it is short and easy to remember:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I rued.

This poem seems to typify the way a northern mind grasps at straws of beauty, in order to survive the general state of depression that deepens as the long northern winter goes on and on and on (and on.)

After Christmas, what holiday is there? New Years? What is that? Is turning a page on the calendar really worth rejoicing about? And the birthdays of defunct people, who had far more dignity than modern politicians, tends to depress me more than they inspire me, for I am reminded how dark our days are. And finally, you have to admit “Ground Hog’s Day” seems downright desperate, in terms of holidays.

Eventually we have to become self reliant, and display the sort of guts Robert Frost displayed, finding the beauty he shared in his poem. It was a dark day, a day he “rued”, yet he found something bright, not only for himself, but for me, (for he shared it with me [and countless others] though he never knew me).

It is nice to be able to share, but apparently some at Google do not think certain individuals, such as myself, should be sharing. If they feel a certain view is politically incorrect, (such as my view that arctic sea-ice is not going to be melted away by 2013 as promised, because it hasn’t), then they will seek to prevent people from sharing their views by artificially reducing the possibility their posts will be seen on Google’s search engine.  Power corrupts, and Google has apparently sunk to the level of a third world dictatorship, by virtually “disappearing” political opponents.

To be honest, I prefer being virtually “disappeared” to the reality version, for in many ways being unknown and unseen is everyday, for artists. Even Robert Frost went years without being well known, and many artists are simply not born for fame. Great singers have remained the cherished property of a small church choir their entire lives, radiating their beauty to a select few, making a poor congregation wealthy even as the world never knows what it is missing. This actually happens more often than not; the greatest comics perform before a crowd of eight at a backwater bar, as the wealthy go impoverished.

Despite obvious shortcomings, wealth and power tricks and fools people, and therefore those at Google deem it wise to stifle Freedom of Speech, and consequently live in a sort of self-created deafness. At best perhaps some think that, like members of Boston’s old, Puritan “Watch and Ward” society, they protect the innocent from some sort of “porn”, (by studying a great deal of it themselves). But the poor are neither as innocent nor naive as some suspect, and the soap that cleans a slum is not made by calling slums illegal, nor by making talk about back alleys be whispers.

In any case, where bringing up a topic such as “arctic sea-ice” once was a way to generate “hits” at a website, now it generates dead silence.

I find this a bit winter-like, and depressing. To share, and generate a will to censor rather than reciprocal sharing, is like being warm and catchinga cold blast from the north. It seems the upper crust is attempting to forbid sharing, in a sense denying the dust that delights, and leaving only a day “rued”.

The snow is glued to the swaying forest
And the northern blasts can’t shake any loose.
There seems no subtlety to this contest.
There is something solid in the crunch of boots
Across a frozen scene, something as starched
As the hairstyles of evening newscasters.
Where is the dust of snow falling from arched
Hemlocks, jostled by crows, that old masters
Wrote poems about? Is it too delicate
And too precious for times given to louts?
No, for the crunch of boots pontificate
Of a glue that was wet, before “Ins” became “Outs”.
Warm wet winds during the night, as I sleep,
Makes all trees birches, with oaths they must keep.

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Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against sitting in a warm penthouse sipping brandy. I’d do it myself, if invited. Nor do I have anything against an above-it-all attitude. (Brandy has that effect.) It is just that feeling above it all can result in one looking down their nose and becoming haughty, and sneering that others are mere children, mere dogs.

Be that way, if you must. The children and dog will not mind, as long as you leave them alone to play. The dog will play keep-away with a stick, delighting in the attention of ten kids running after it.

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Do you know what I think? I think those who scorn children and dogs are strangely threatened by the fact children and dogs have no real interest in money or fame, and would rather play in the snow than perch in a penthouse. Therefore they want to butt in and make children and dogs see they are important. They demand respect. They will outlaw sharing, unless you obey their rules.

But life goes on outside Silicon Valley. Alas for the Googlites, who make a winter without warmth, even in sunny California.