ARCTIC SEA ICE –Whaler Gales–

The modern millennial likely would not approve of the life Whaler’s lived, seeing them as back-stabbers, but Whaler’s lived in a society where if you did not produce food, clothing and shelter you would not receive food, clothing and shelter. The choice was quite simple, back then: Work your ass off, or freeze and starve in rags. It was downright Biblical, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

Given this choice, men and women in the times Whalers sailed were motivated to do far more than the millennial mentality allows. There were no trophies for “participating,” for life was clearly a matter of life or death. Winning was life, and losing was death, and it was left to the angels in heaven to decide whether the dead got a “participation trophy.”

Not that people back then didn’t believe that certain losers, called “martyrs”, did get a “participation trophy” of far greater value than the plastic objects handed out to modern losers. However it was because they had given the ultimate sacrifice, their own life, so that others might live. Life and living was still the focus, and there was the awareness that in order to give, and be charitable, you must have. And in order to have, you must work your ass off. You must have a life worth living in order to perform the ultimate charity, and give your life away as a martyr.

Millennials seem confused about the basic premise which states one must have something to begin with, in order to be charitable. Some millennials indeed have things completely backwards. Where, in fact, an act of charity leaves one with less materially than one started with (though one may be richer spiritually), millennials feel they should wind up with more materially, if they are charitable. They only “give” because the pay is good; a “non-profit” should be highly lucrative; a “public servant” taxes those he supposedly serves. This colossal ignorance represents a complete redefinition of the word, “charity.”

This can only have occurred because millennials were misguided. Somehow they were misled into thinking you could give without first working your ass off. Perhaps this ignorance began with the ability of governments to reap without sowing, by printing money that didn’t exist. Who knows? I wasn’t there and I refuse to take responsibility for starting it.

I will accepts a certain amount of responsibility for perpetuating the lunacy of thinking charity is profitable. After all, I am a “Child Care Professional”, which means I profit off caring for small children. It is a shameful profession, for little children have no wallets, and to make money off innocents is surely a vile exploitation. The only redeeming factor is that the pay stinks, so I don’t share the shame of those who get filthy rich being “charitable.” However far better was the old ways of the old days, when a mother charged nothing for her milk.

Some of the worst offenders are psychiatrists, who do get filthy rich by helping the troubled. Likely they are aware of the shame involved, for no other adult occupation matches their rate of suicide. However, until they crack up, they like to sit in their stultifying offices and criticize whalers sailing out in the open air. They like to raise their noses and invent fancy words that demonstrate their contempt for honest men working honest jobs. To harpoon a whale is “sadism”, and the suffering of life on the pounding sea is “masochism.”

This only demonstrates their appalling ignorance, for they can have no idea how wonderful the wildness of whaling was, and that the people involved lost fortunes as often as they made them, but chose that life because a Nantucket sleigh-ride was the opposite of stultifying.

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Even though it did not always end well.

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In any case, the daring lifestyle of Whalers took them to where whales congregate, and one such place was the edge of the arctic sea-ice.

Arctic Whalers 1 Arctic-Whalers

It is from these men we learn most about how the sea-ice has expanded and contracted in the past. Because whales like to push their limits, (because the edge of the ice hold the richest foods), and because even whales sometimes pushed their limits too far and were trapped in pockets of open water and eventually killed by expanding ice, (because whales cannot breath if they have to swim too great a distance under ice),  whalers were tempted to pursue the whales into compromising situations. Whaling ships were also trapped, and crushed, and crews only survived by hauling lifeboats south over sea-ice to land, or to open water.

Some captains, such as William Scoresby (Junior), kept amazingly scientific and accurate logs, but most captains had no idea we intellectuals-of-the-future would ever wonder what they saw, and bicker about what the sea-ice was like back then.  Their logs are far less scientific, yet we can learn much from them.

For example, in 1871 forty ships sailed north of Bering Strait in June, and proceeded to hunt whale along the coast of Alaska nearly as far as Barrow during July and early August, but then the winds shifted and the ice came crushing south and trapped all but seven of the ships. 1219 lives were on the line.

At this point I suppose certain people of the “vegan” persuasion are clapping their hands in glee. They hate the idea of men stabbing whales in the back, and if you visit their websites you discover their hatred does not frown upon wishing death upon fellow humans, if those humans feed children with meat. Nor would it trouble them much to learn that some captains had their sons and even wives aboard, so the 1219 doomed people included women and children. Certain vegan types basically loathe humanity, preferring beasts, and snicker when true saints weep.  The fact whales also were trapped by the southern surge of sea-ice wouldn’t trouble them much, as it would be well worth the glee of seeing 1219 evil “hunters”die.

Some of these people would also be glad to see so many ships destroyed. Even though they were mass-produced very cheaply in the shipyards of those times, they were worth roughly a million dollars each (in modern dollars), (though you could never build such a ship for a mere million dollars today.) (Each ship must hold a crew of 25.)  In any case, 33 lost ships represented a loss of 33 million dollars for the investors. The vegan mentality claps its hands in glee, for, though some have never made an honest dollar in their lives and dwell in a mother’s basement, they prefer to avoid their own motivations and instead accuse others of “greed”.

The problem with this idea is that, if greed alone was the motivation, many captains would have gotten out when the going was good. Having made their fortune, they would have stayed home. They were well aware of the risks involved. Why should they risk losing a fortune they’d already made? Yet some of the captains involved had made and lost fortunes more than once. This suggests something besides greed was involved. It suggests men might live for something other than profit. It suggests men might rejoice in the sheer challenge of the sea.

Not that some of the “vegan” mindset can comprehend the joy of such danger. A person who loves danger will seldom hide in his mother’s basement, (unless he understands that is a dangerous place for a man to be).

(As a daredevil who has experienced both storms at sea and living in my mother’s basement, I will testify the sea has a beauty and joy which basements utterly lack, and for that reason a basement may be more dangerous. But the basement’s chief danger involves cowardice, while the sea brings out your courage.)

It is the courage of the doomed 1219 that really stands out. They knew, as the sun sank and September chills filled the air, and the ship’s timbers moaned under the stress of the increasing sea-ice, that the sea-ice wasn’t going to miraculously open and allow them to sail to unload cargo at the home port. It wan’t going to be a happy, profitable voyage. It was going to be one of the unprofitable ones they’d heard tales about. From members of the crew. If not the captain himself. So they knew it was time to abandon ship. They lowered the lifeboats, but not to water. The lifeboats went “clunk” on hard sea-ice, and then served as sleds, as 1219 doomed people headed south for land.

1219 made it to land, and then headed southwest along the Alaskan coast, to where the sea-ice didn’t crunch against the coast. And what did they find there? They found the seven smart captains who had escaped the sea-ice. They were the seven winners, and faced a choice of what to do with the 33 losers.

Now, if the seven winners happened to be like some “vegan” I’ve known, then when faced with 33 loser “meat-eaters” in dire danger, they would not lift a finger to help. They’d likely shriek, “Die! Die! Die! For you deserve it, because you are greedy and cruel to whales!”

In actual fact the seven smart captains may have made a choice that the stock-holders far away frowned at.  They dumped the entire profits of their voyages overboard, to make room for the 1219 lives they saved.

The end of the story is that millions of dollars were lost, but not a single life. The 1219 all arrived safely in the sunny south, to bask beneath the palms of Honolulu.

Knowing this, perhaps you can understand why I am less than trustful of those who write a sort of revisionist history, describing Whalers as being wicked, sadistic, greedy men. Surely they were not perfect, but they had a class you seldom see these days.

Consider, if you will, the class displayed by the seven captains who saved 1219. Talk about charity! They could have been rich, but instead chose to be poor and save 1219 lives.

And then consider how different are seven Climate Scientists. They have been nowhere and done nothing, in reality, though they may have jet-setted to Bali and Paris, spending other people’s money to talk nonsense they could have just as well talked (with less expense)  at home. All their adventuring is in a mother’s basement, with the “mother” being the funding of a government which cannot make money, and instead must print it. It is a landscape devoid of the reality where one must actually catch a whale. And, rather than demonstrating sacrifices they themselves must make to save people, they instead utter strident cries that others should sacrifice, so they (and hypothetical future generations) can profit and do “further research”. It is an intellectual world so divorced from catching whales, from hard facts, from food, clothing and shelter, that I can only conclude it is stark madness.

It is perhaps fortunate that I wasted a winter in my mother’s basement long ago, for I know how the mind can stray from reality in such circumstances, inventing excuses for not leaving shelter, concocting elaborate blamings of others for ones own spineless reluctance to go out into the cold. But I got sick of it, and faced a stark dawn where the choice between fresh air and stultification, between sanity and insanity, was blatant. So I stepped out into the cold, and discovered something that surprised me: Life is a blast. One may not be able to sign up to crew on a whaling ship any more, but there is plenty of fresh air out there, if one only leaves the basement.

Perhaps there are now simply fewer opportunities for millennials to work meaningful jobs, where they can see they actually produce food, clothing and shelter. A lone man in a tractor can now do the farming and produce the food which once would have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of toiling farmers to produce. Robots now do the tedious toil, but should not this allow people to be poets? To study Truth? Instead many just become nasty, and disingenuous, and more prone to con-artistry than to art.

It is for this reason I distrust ideas that seem to be produced in a setting like a Mom’s basement, and have a greater trust of ideas that seem from the decks of ships at sea. I am skeptical of data from models, and more interested the raw facts from “field studies”. And this is most especially true when the maps and graphs produced by professors in cozy offices differ significantly from what is shown, (often without comment) by their interns out on the ice. Or by the floating cameras out on the ice. Or by the adventurers out on the ice. Or by the historical records of Whalers who sailed long ago, and never dreamed a society could exist that is in the state ours is in.

This at long last brings me back to the topic of sea-ice, and the fact one can compare computer-generated ideas of what the sea-ice was like, back before we had satellite pictures, with the records kept by sailors. One discovers the two views disagree. Ships were sailing where the computer-generated maps state they could not have sailed. After all, William Parry observed a sailing ship could be brought to a halt by as little as an inch of sea-ice, unless there was a strong following wind. The people back then were not aboard icebreakers that smash through six feet of ice with impunity. Therefore their reports of open water are not “modeled”, but based on actual fact.

Even the old Danish sea-ice maps, which are decent regarding where the sea-ice lay on the European side of the Pole, tend to overdo the historical amount of sea-ice on the Pacific side. The old Eskimo (Inuit) spoke of whaling every year along the same coasts the Danish maps show as being gripped by ice. One surmises the Danes were just guessing, but the Eskimo, (perhaps the most gutsy whalers of all), not only spoke from experience, but their very survival was staked on there being open water. (One reason the Inuit replaced an earlier people called the “Dorset Culture” may be because the Inuit could hunt from kayaks while the Dorset required sea-ice, which in turn suggests times of thicker ice was advantageous to an earlier people, but losing that ice (perhaps during the Medieval Warm Period) put them at a disadvantage.)

The computer models, for some reason, show more sea-ice in the past than the Danes and Inuit reported. To me it seems the modelers have been so eager to demonstrate that sea-ice is decreasing, and in a “death spiral”, that they ignored the eyewitnesses, and the models became an example of “garbage in, garbage out.”

To get around such bias I have always preferred the eyewitnesses, whether they be Eskimos, Whalers, Explorers, O-buoys, Satellite pictures, or modern adventures sailing those waters.

The modern adventurers often are full of zeal, when it comes to promoting the idea that sea-ice is in a “death spiral”,  but that never bothers me, for they can talk the talk, but they also walk they walk. Often they inadvertently share a picture worth far more than a thousand words, for they share pictures of persisting sea-ice, even while agonizing about an ice-free Pole.

I am of the opinion that the Arctic Sea was at times ice-free, or nearly ice-free, as recently as the Medieval Warm Period. Though sea-ice has increased since then, it has not done so in a steady fashion, and the reports of whalers like William Scoresby seem to suggest there was one summer, around 1817, where there was less ice up in the Arctic Sea, on the Atlantic side, than we have ever seen, during our Modern Climate Optimum.

This pits me against some computer models, and it also, (to those who have great faith in those models), makes my observations seem a sort of heresy.  I try to point out that the models do not match the historical record, but some simply refuse to hear such a possibility can even exist.

I also try to point out that a return to the relatively sea-ice-free summer conditions of the Medieval Warm Period would be good for humanity,  but this also seems like sacrilege to those who think a decrease of sea-ice signifies doom.

In the end time will tell. I just watch what happens, and rue the fact we have so few cameras this year, (for the funding of eye-witness views seems to be greatly decreased).

Because we have so few cameras I am thrilled that a group of sailors, calling themselves “Arctic Mission”, are thinking of attempting to sail several boats north as far as they can:

https://www.facebook.com/ArcticMissionUK/

These are fellows following in the footsteps of the whalers of Yore, and testing the limits of the edge of the ice. I am not particularly concerned about their politics, (one fellow suggests there may be less sea-ice this year than any summer in 120,000 years), because Truth is better than politics, and these fellow will report the Truth.

A slight problem has occurred, as Truth doesn’t always involve fair weather. They were planning to have left Nome, Alaska by now, and to have headed up through Bering Strait, but rather than the summertime calms they expected, there have been gales in Bering Strait. So they are delayed.

Hmm. Is it just me, or is there some irony in the fact that in 1871 forty whaling ships made it north of Bering Strait in June, but these guys are delayed in August?

But I will not deny these fellows have guts to be attempting what they are attempting. They have not the vegan-mentality that stays at home. I’m a little worried they may get trapped up there. But they will give us eye-witness accounts of what the sea-ice is up to, and I personally value that more than any model.

In terms of weather, “Ralph” continues to storm up at the Pole, but high pressure pumped up over Siberia may be swung around to Bering Strait and give “Arctic Mission” some sunny sailing.

Subfreezing temperatures are becoming more common.

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Waters are open north of Bering Strait, but “Arctic Mission” should start meeting sea-ice at around 75° north latitude. (For some reason NRL hasn’t updated its maps for three days.)

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Our lone camera shows the thaw has resumed after a sharp freeze, south of Parry Channel. The melt-water pools briefly skimmed with ice, but now are again expanding. Much of the melting now comes from beneath, and the ice should soon break up even if a freeze occurs above the ice.

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Stay tuned (even if hurricanes to the south get more interesting.)

 

 

 

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LOCAL VIEW –Wink–

Here is a picture of children not being obedient. I told them to wait. They are vanishing into the distance. (Actually this is a zoomed-in part of a larger picture; you can barely see them in the larger picture.)

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In a sense children are a lot like life. They refuse to follow the plan, and this can cause all sorts of different sorts of dourness to afflict us. One thing I’ve recently been noticing is the cure often isn’t words.

This is bad news for people like myself, who have invested a lot into the study of words. It is also bad news for people who don’t think talk is cheap, and make it expensive, such as psychiatrists. But again and again I’ve recently seen members of my staff, and the young parents who are my customers,  not only say a lot with a wordless gesture, but seem to solve a problem as well.

Solve a problem? Yes, because everything is stressed, and then, just by the way they roll their eyes, or give themselves a face-palm, they cause laughter to come to relieve the stress. This is bad news for the pharmaceutical industry.

I’ve been noticing this phenomenon so much that I’ve started to study it. As it is beyond words, I don’t suppose I can find the words to describe it, but sometimes poetry is within a glance. We say a person “beams” at us.  It makes me think we should observe silence from time to time, for otherwise words, whether spoken or written,  can become mere yammering. Silence is golden.

Most recently I saw this wonder within a wink. Not a word was spoken. A person just winked, and my heart was eased by a good laugh. It got me thinking, and looking backwards across the years…

…Musing backwards to days I spent drifting,
When shaving and showers were luxuries;
When shopkeepers thought I’d likely be lifting;
When hunger made appetite easy to please
And downwind of kitchens was Oh so delicious,
I couldn’t help look unworthy of trust.
One look at me made policemen suspicious.
I practiced innocent looks, or got cussed,
But one day I decided to risk arrest.
I saw a bored girl in a black limousine
And as I slouched by I gave her my best
Roguish wink. I wish you could have seen
Her sour face dawn a recalcitrant smile.
It made being a drifter completely worthwhile.

LOCAL VIEW –The Underground Bugs–

I’ve always been a member of the underground, and the underground bugs people who believe you should be up front and honest, and step forward to be shot at.  About the only time I “came out” in any way, shape or form was in 1969, and that wasn’t really my doing. I was not at all cool in my school, being rather shaggy and unkempt, but suddenly that was in style, and to my amazement people were abruptly looking up to me as some sort of authority on coolness. It didn’t last long. Before I could really settle into the novel experience of being in-fashion, Disco came along, and I was back to being an outcast.

I don’t really see how people find the time to be fashionable. There are much better things to think about, and too little time to think about them. So I have tended to go my own way, disinterested in fashion, and far more interested in this thing called “Truth”.

Many fashionable people don’t want to hear the Truth, preferring  stuff they find snazzier, and therefore Truth gets relegated to their subconscious, and if they want to get at the Truth they have to hire a psuedoscientist psychologist. I had better things to do with my money, (and anyway, back in the 1970’s when I fooled about with such things, I tended to cause psychologists nervous breakdowns by telling them the Truth about psychology).

Years have past, and I’ve become a grouchy old man who wanders an inner world others avoid, and I’ve discovered that this underground bugs people. For example, people say you should be up front and honest, but when I have told the Truth about Global Warming I am told I am a “Denier” and should zip my lip. I don’t. One of the prerogatives of being a grouchy old man is that you don’t have to be as shy and reclusive as a young poet must be, and you are allowed to be a royal pain, and heck if I am going to give up that right.

In any case, it is likely for this reason I identify with underground bugs, especially when they go to the top of a tree and scream at the top of their lungs. We had a bunch of these “come out” yesterday, as little brown crawly things that scrabbled slowly up the sides of trees, and then cracked their backs. Not only did they come out of the dirt and darkness, but they came out of their old selves.

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That bunched-up thing to the side is a wing, and the first order of business for this bug, called a “cicada”, is to pump up that wing so it works.

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The kids at our Farm-childcare were not entirely impressed by this wonder, and some found it pretty gross.Cicada 3 IMG_3562

However I myself found it a wonder, and also a handy symbol; IE:  If you come out of the dirt and darkness into the Truth and Light you discover you have wings.

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This means you have to leave the dirt and darkness and the husk of your old self behind. Unfortunately back in 1969 hippies like myself didn’t get this part quite right. We felt being open and honest meant plunging into lust and drugs and greed, and made a mess of things by remaining with the old husk.

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Not that joy wasn’t involved, and being depraved wasn’t such fun that, if I was young again, I might not be tempted to make the same mistakes all over again. But even insects know enough to leave the husk behind.

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They fly to the tree tops and sing a song that contributes to the sheer sizzle of summer.  And we? What do we have in hand? The mere husk of life?

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Besides the emergence of cicadas being an interesting tidbit of science, the underground bugs also demonstrates how I can take a symbol and run with it. Many psychologists find this unnerving, because they figure they are suppose to be telling you what the symbols mean, but poets (and small children) tend to juggle symbols and fling them about like paper airplanes, while psychologists are still laboriously counting on their thumbs and consulting the manual.

By the way, the cicadas that spend 17 years underground before emerging have red eyes and live further south. Therefore, in the true spirit of Yankee one-upsmanship, I have decided to call our species  “18-year-cicadas” (until I learn otherwise.)

I can feel a sonnet brewing. I’ll add it on to this post later if I get around to writing it, but I think the final line will be, “It’s amazing how long some can live in the dark.”

(PS:  I finally wrote the sonnet on July 31):

Some summer long ago I knew the light,
But fell to earth and came to dwell down deep
In dank tunnels, subsisting on sap. Sight
Became a groping thing, and to creep
Became the norm, until today I got
The crazy urge to quit sucking the sap.
The dark felt suffocating, and I thought
I must go up for air, and left the trap
I’d long embraced. I climbed up, returned
To the dazzle of light, the push of wind.
My crusty skin felt old; my back burned;
And then I split from the husk where I’d been pinned.
I find I’ve grown a set of lacy wings
And can fly to tree tops where romance sings.

LOCAL VIEW –THE BALLET OF A BROOK–

It is Friday night, and after the week I’ve been through I’m ready to tell responsibility to go to hell. I figure that is OK, if I have done “responsibility” all week. It is Monday morning that winds you up in trouble, if you tell responsibility to go to hell..

Last week some of my excellent employees were unavailable for work, so I had to step in and cover for them. Considering they had recently covered for me, as I had a kidney removed, I am not about to whine much. But I will whine just a little bit, because being post-operative reminded me of something I’d nearly forgotten: This world doesn’t need me. I can kick back, and everything doesn’t collapse in a heap. I sort of liked kicking back, but last week I abruptly had to stop it.  My first real vacation in fifteen years was over.

Most people seem to need a vacation to recover from a vacation. They have no desire to return to the rat race, because they have fleetingly seen life can be much, much better. The revelation is downright traumatic, which is why they need another vacation. They need to reassess. They need to reevaluate what the hell they are suffering for.

It was different for me, because I was craving to get back to work. When the vacation is enforced, due to an operation, you are itching to get back in the saddle. Then, when you are allowed to again do the most simple things, such as sweep a powder of snow from steps, the joy you feel is all out of proportion to the magnitude of the task. Sweeping of the snow is no earth-shaking deed, yet you feel like singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Yet I too had no desire to return to the rat race. There is something about calling our labor a “rat race” that demeans life. We are missing the point. We are missing the majesty.

When my wife and I started our Farm-childcare nearly a decade ago we hadn’t read “Last Child In The Woods” by Richard Louv or “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. But we knew what they knew. Our society is missing the majesty.

It is bad enough when we turn our own lives into a rat race, but when we turn little children’s lives into rat races it is a bridge too far. It violates the sanctity of of an obvious and simple church called “Childhood.” Yet the most loving people do it.  Childhood is suppose to be a sanctuary, but parents and schoolmarms disturb the peace.

Six hundred toys is not peace; it is hectic. It isn’t loving, nor are ballet lessons after organized sports after classes after classes after classes before yoga sessions about serenity. Yet both parents work two jobs, and send innocents to Farm-childcares like mine from 7:00 AM until 6:00 PM, (most of a child’s waking hours), and suffer all this rat-race toil out of a love for those they abuse.

It is a love that is misguided. I am old, and if I am any sort of guide I need to say, “You should put my Farm-childcare out of business. Do you have any idea how much money you could save if you worked less, drove less, prepared your own food, and raised your own kids?”

My wife is usually the one who deals with our customers. I lack tact. But the fact I stay silent sometimes makes me feel like a Caspar Milquetoast.Boss census

Fortunately my wife is as radical as I am, and agrees children are better off being allowed the freedom to be young. If a child wants to spend time by a brook, rather than listening to the insipid prattling of elders about ballet, they may very well learn more about ballet from a brook, and more about beauty from a brook, and certainly receive more healing from a brook than all the king’s doctors and all the king’s psychologists can ever provide.

Brook IMG_1771

You complain God is silent, but heed you
The sweet music of a burbling brook?
Maybe you buy the video, and do
Your best to cure insomnia, and look
To screens to see blue waters play, and guide
Your children to bleak deserts waterless:
Sessions and sessions, all puffing your pride
When in fact you are deaf, or even less.

I tell you God’s not silent, but you must go
To an actual brook, and do a thing
Called “sit still”, unwax your ears, and then know
What children know. Dare you try listening?
Who made this rat-race, so sure to depress?
The silence of God gives you more, asking less.

LOCAL VIEW —signs and omens—

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There are signs and omens all over the place, if you care for such things. I used to care, but have lost interest over the years, largely because I could see little advantage in glimpsing the future. I never got a glimpse clear enough to tell me what stocks to invest in, I suppose. Rather I’d get a vague sense of whether I was in for tough times or easy times, and there was no way to avoid either. Lastly, when tough times did come, they were never as bad as worry made them out to be beforehand, and actually turned out to be the times I brag the most about surviving, when reminiscing. (When I remember the good times it is often with the wistful sense I blew it, in some manner.)

The one time signs are helpful is when you are very discouraged, and in need of an encouraging word. Our fellow man sometimes can be pathetic, when it comes to encouraging us. Even the people trying to be kind will  propose some ridiculous diet or regime of exercise or ask you to contort yourself into yoga poses, when all you really need is a kindly glance. In such situations helpful friends can be downright depressing, and it is then that some sign, some bluebird landing on a nearby branch and singing, can be like a rope to a drowning swimmer.

Of course, if I became dependent on such signs I’d never get going in the morning. I have enough trouble getting started as it is, and if I needed a good omen before I proceeded I’d likely never get out of bed.

There was actually a time when I was young that I did demand life made sense, before I’d proceed, and I wound up very nearly paralyzed. I was deeply involved in the study of psychology, and at the slightest sign my behavior wasn’t adult I’d stop everything and analyse my every twitch. It was a good way to avoid getting a real job, and also acquainted me with the wonders of the subconscious, however in the end I had to get a real job even if life didn’t make sense.

At one point, before I got a real job, I was studying my dreams from every angle I could think of, and had a wonderful revelation. When you study dreams you, in a sense, make every action and every object within the dream be a symbol, and thus a sign. For example, if there is a road in the dream, it may symbolize “being-walked-upon”, (and you might even burst into tears when you have the insight that you feel trodden upon). The problem is that, before you get the first dream figured out, you tend to get tired and go to sleep and have another one. Studying all the symbols can get to be exhausting, and there is definitely no time left to look for a real job.

I had managed to arrange my life, as a young poet, in a way that allowed me to study dreams for days on end. Now I cringe, thinking of all the wasted time, but some good did come out of all the study. For one thing, I don’t waste time so much. I also suppose I understand the subconscious to some degree. However the revelation I wish to describe came after I had an overdose of dream-study, and decided I needed some fresh air, and went for a walk.

Because I’d been spending so much time analyzing objects in dreams, I was in the habit, and found myself analyzing the real objects in the real world as if they were symbols in a dream. I wasn’t trying to do it. In fact I was trying to stop. Yet I couldn’t. There wasn’t a leaf that fell that didn’t have some symbolic meaning. Maybe I didn’t know what the meaning was, but the meaning was there, as loud as thunder. I had wanted life to make sense, but now there was too much meaning, in every twig, in every birdsong, in every face in every passing car. It was a glorious and wonderful revelation, but I felt over my head and wanted it to stop. When it wouldn’t I went and bought a six pack of beer and got ossified, not to get high but rather to come back to earth. Then, when I awoke the next morning with a headache, I wondered why I had run away from the revelation. It was largely gone, though enough lingered to reassure me that life does make sense.

Due to that one event, forty years ago, I don’t scoff at people who gaze at stars, seeking astrological sense, or at teas leaves, or at the lines in palms, or at the entrails of goats. God really is in everything, even in the most dark, deplorable, and dismal situations. That is how the poet Wilford Owen was able to write, from the hideous trenches during World War One, “I too have seen God in mud.”

While I don’t scoff at those who seek to read things, I don’t have the time to follow them. Knowing the future doesn’t matter as much as how you behave when it gets here. The only time I adjust my behavior due to someone seeing the future is when I hear a storm may come, in a weather forecast, (and even then the forecast is often wrong. Also, these days, it is often absurdly sensationalized).

Rather than attempting to figure the Creator out, and know what He is up to, I tend to rest assured He knows what He is doing, even if I don’t particularly like it. This seems to open my eyes to beauty I’d otherwise miss. I don’t particularly like cleaning up after a snowstorm, but that doesn’t mean I can’t lean on my shovel and admire the view.

In this manner I’m able to admire the recent eclipse of the full moon, and the current conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Mars in the morning sky, without getting all worked up and worried about  what it all means. I can watch the leaves change and fall without getting all worked up about the onset of winter, (though I don’t forget to stack the wood).

The glory of what I call “Sugar Autumn” is ending, as we move into the less brilliant but still  beautiful foliage of “Oak Autumn”. In parts of the woods without oaks, it is starting to be “Under-story Autumn,” where the tall maples have lost their leaves, but the young ones beneath are just starting to change.

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It seems that the Creator set up the ecosystem around here in a way that gives the young trees a little time to enjoy the sun free from the shade of their elders. The sapling maples  pop their leaves out a week before the taller ones in the spring, and lose their leaves a week after the taller ones in the fall. I’m sure a scientist can explain the reasons for this happening, but it doesn’t take anything away from the fact it is a wonderful design, and does allow the young time to grow, or at least subsist, until the old decide enough is enough and politely remove themselves from the sky by becoming increasingly rotten and the home of woodpeckers, or perhaps becoming firewood.

That is the sort of thing I contemplate, as I gaze upon Creation, and it seems wiser to me to appreciate beauty in this manner than to become worried, and in a sense to get in a fight with Creation. Too many people spend their entire lives avoiding what may never happen, and isn’t all that bad when it does happen. The reasons people give for the lessening of their lives are many, but it still remain a lessening. Some of the best advice I ever got may be the crudest, “Get over it.” For there are many ways to look at the moon.

And then the moon went on, westward through trees
Now bare of leaves, with a glance back towards me
Inviting. How could I follow? What frees
My feet to walk where the moon walks? What plea
Would it hear? All I could do was stand and yearn.

Once in a dream I walked those pearled highways
But for fool’s reasons felt I should return:
My mundane friends frowned on what disobeys.

Now like a grounded dodo I stand sad
As all wear armor and only in dreams
Does one walk nude in public. This world’s mad
And burdened by leaden get-rich-quick schemes.

But the moon’s not burdened. Midst the mad glow
Of cities it beckons those in its shadow.

LOCAL VIEW —Change in Plans—

The first map shows the snow the GFS computer model was saying we’d get the day before yesterday, and the second map shows they have changed their minds for Southern New Hampshire. We have gone from being in a sort of hole, in terms of snowfall, to getting six inches.

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This is typical of the virtual world of virtual weather. You can’t truly trust the forecasts you get, or use them to make plans. At best you can get a lot of “mights” and “coulds”, but you had best remain on guard. After all, it is winter, and this is New Hampshire, and storms can brew up out of the blue. “Prepare for the worst as you hope for the best.”

I like the way Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi operate at their Weatherbell site, for they point out the times you ought to be wary, without the pretense of being specific and pretending they can state when a storm will hit, down to the minute. Or, when they do venture out onto the thin ice of such specific forecasts, they make it clear there is a probability of missing out on certain details. After all, a shift of fifty miles in the track of a storm can be the difference between a foot of powder snow and no precipitation at all, or a foot of powder snow and rain. At times hitting such a forecast from several days away is the equivalent of threading a needle from across a room using long chopsticks. (It can be done, but is a huge challenge, especially when you get only one chance.)

I didn’t trust the mess coming out of Texas two days ago, just because I’m a winter-wary Yankee, and it turns out my grumpy and suspicious attitude is more correct than a billion dollar computer, as I awake this morning to a “winter storm watch.”  Even that has a sort of disclaimer, “The storm track is still somewhat uncertain. A track further northwest would bring heavy snow further inland. A track further southeast would bring less snow.” Ummm…I could have told you that two days ago.

The one thing they left out was, “Warmer air could change the snow to rain.”  That is actually something I’m wary of, as the pattern this winter has been for dustings of snow from the northern branch Alberta Clippers, and rains from the southern branch storms that cut west of us.

Below are the maps from two days ago (top) and the maps from this morning (bottom). (Click to enlarge.) You can see the first radar map showing the last clipper’s snow ducking south of us, as the southern feature moves southeast to the Mississippi delta from Texas and brings all sorts of Juicy moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico, seen in the second radar map.

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What puzzled me a little was the failure of the clipper to pull any of the very cold air to our north south, as it passed. As it approached we had a day of streaky-gray skies, with here and there a band of blue sky, and temperatures rising from 16.5° to 29.5° (-8.6° to -1.4° Celsius). The clipper couldn’t seem to get its act together, and decide whether or not to develop a secondary on the coast, (something I’m always wary of,) and passed over us as an indecisive confusion in the late evening. Temperatures fell back to 19.4° during a night that was overcast, but as it cleared yesterday morning there was no blast of arctic air in its wake.  Instead it was a delightfully windless day, with bright sun.  The slightest dust of snow had fallen overnight, so that gray surface of the trampled frozen-slush in the Childcare playground looked lightly salted.

I’ve never understood why, as the days start to lengthen, it is far more obvious in terms of the sunsets. The sunsets are already a half hour later, while the sunrises are only five minutes earlier. Yesterday I had the feeling, perhaps illusionary, that the sun was a hair higher, and kinder.

Of course, the pessimism of old Yankees is pounded into my skull, so I always remember the rhyme,

When the days begin to lengthen
Then the cold begins to strengthen.

There is actually wisdom in those old words, for the summer-warmed waters that protected us from arctic blasts in October and November have been chilled, and in the case of Hudson Bay have frozen over. In the case of Lake Erie the water was so chilled that nearly the entire lake froze over during the last arctic blast

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It is for this reason that, though days start getting longer on December 21, the average lowest temperature isn’t reached until around January 19.  Then, because temperatures are so low, lakes tend to go right on freezing and snow cover can go on expanding even as temperatures (on average) first begin to creep back up. Lastly, because ice-cover and snow-cover go on expanding, conditions improve for the attacks of the most murderous cold right into February. It wasn’t until February fifteenth that the old timers would mutter (sometimes right in the middle of a cold wave or snowstorm), “Winter’s back is broken.”

I can recall sub-zero (-17° Celsius) cold waves into March, and roughly a decade ago we even had an arctic attack in early April, with fresh snow cover and temperatures in the single digits.

However there was something about yesterday that tempted one to, if not lower their guard, to at least pause and close their eyes and look towards the sun. It actually got just above freezing briefly, reaching 33.2° (-0.6 Celsius), and there was little wind.   I like the feel of the faint January warmth in the sun on my face, and the orange view seen by shut eyelids.

 I actually think this is a therapeutic thing to do, especially after hearing of psychologists who charge big bucks to treat people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) by having them look at light bulbs. The old timers called SAD “winter blues” or “cabin fever” ( or “going shacky whacky”), and stated the cure was to get off your butt and go outside, which is a lot cheaper than a psychologist. To find a south-facing wall out of the wind, and simply to bask a bit, facing the sun, is not only cheaper than looking at a shrink’s light-bulb, it is far more pleasant.

I tested it out with the kids at the Childcare, and they agreed. We all went to the south-facing wall of the barn, and looked up to the sun, basked in the warmth, and listened to the birds with our eyes shut. Finches and Chickadees were peeping nearby, and a crow was cawing far off, and the raucous cries of a couple of blue jays came belting across the pasture. It felt better than a light bulb,  and sounded better than a psychologist, too.

Not that I had all that much time for such experiments. My wary and pessimistic side had me squeezing in some time to visit a country garage to purchase some cheap snow tires for my 20-year-old truck, and have them installed. (Usually I don’t bother, as I know how to drive on snow and don’t have all that far to drive to work.)

A country garage is the closest thing left to an old blacksmith shop. People tend to hang around such places, and the conversation tends to be frank, forthright and funny. (There was even an old law, dating from the time of the Vikings, [I think], that one could not be held to anything they said at a smithy, for the ringing of the hammer on hot iron had a hypnotic effect.)

I’m not exactly sure how I managed to be so stupid, but I stood about blabbing too long, and abruptly realized I had to go pick up the children at the kindergarten, and had no vehicle to do so with.

My plan had been to drop off the truck and go for a leisurely walk through the forest to my house, and use my youngest son’s car, (which we are storing for him), to drive to the Childcare, where I’d pick up my wife’s van to go get the six kids. Instead I took off down the road walking like those ladies who walk way too fast, in an attempt to keep their figures slim.

About a third of a mile down the road I cut into the woods, heading down the driveway of a man who likely doesn’t know that his drive is actually part of the original road that crossed this town before it was a town. I think it still is a public way, but I always feel a bit like I am trespassing. Usually he isn’t home, but it was just my luck that he was just leaving, as I came striding down his drive in a absurdly purposeful manner. I gave him a friendly wave, and to my delight, and with a degree of astonishment, I saw him smile and wave back, as he passed.

I have worked long and hard to establish a reputation for being a cantankerous anachronism, but this is the first sign I have seen that I have succeeded, and am the proud owner of the image of being a sort of weirdo, but a harmless one.

About halfway down the drive towards the fellow’s garage the true lost highway veers off to the left, shown by parallel stone walls heading off through the woods. The fact the highway was major is shown by the fact the walls are further apart than most country roads, but the surface between the walls shows little sign of being flattened. It is also now full of trees, though there is a winding path used by snowmobiles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers along it. Some fool had been along it, in a dirt bike, judging from the tracks in the shallow snow, as had deer. However I was in too much of a hurry to tread softly and peer through trunks for the local wildlife. The inch of snow was an incredibly crunchy and starchy crust, and I made such a racket striding along I likely attracted deer and foxes who came to see, from a safe distance, what on earth was making such an ungodly crunching.

After fording a small brook on a single plank that some kind person had lugged into the wood, I strode over a final rise and began descending towards town, and there things became interesting. Any downhill dent tends to be used, by the laws of gravity, as a way to remove rainfall, and after thunderstorms this ancient highway becomes a brief brook, an intermittent stream that exists so rarely it doesn’t make any maps. However, during the winter, after the ground freezes and water can no longer sink into the sponging soil, the brief brook comes to life during winter rains, and then, because winter rains are often followed by a cold front and plunging temperatures, this brief brook freezes before it can make it down to town. In other words, it forms a sheet of glare ice on part of the ancient road.

Usually I can walk beside this ice, however, because we have had a fair number of winter rains this year, the brief brook was surprisingly wide. I went from walking like a woman on a diet to walking like a Monty Python spastic, thrashing about but amazingly keeping my balance. At times, when the ice grew steep, I had to speed up and run to keep my balance, and aimed for the next patch of crunchy snow where there was traction enough to slow down. By the time I broke out of the trees in my back yard I had actually broken a sweat, which is difficult to do at my age, as your sweat-glands don’t function the way they did when you were young (and needed to shower and use deodorant twice a day.)

I was last in the line of cars, but not late to the kindergarten, to pick up the children. I had a somewhat smug feeling, and was proud my cardiovascular system hadn’t seized up on me, and may have even muttered, “I still got it”, to myself. (I am careful to keep such news to myself, for if my wife ever finds out she’ll expect more work from me.)

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But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone. Today I am understanding why dieting women do all those voluptuous stretching exercises before and after walking in their silly manner, and why they walk on a regular basis, and not one time at age 39 and then again at age 61. Quite a number of my muscles are telling me they haven’t been exercised so strenuously in a long, long time, and are objecting in a manner that has made me walk, today, in manner funnier than any dieting woman.

When I got home from work I thought about stocking up my porch with firewood in a manner appropriate for just-before-a-storm, and decided, “the heck with it”.  The snow isn’t suppose to get heavy until mid-morning. I’ll do it in the morning.

However the “Winter Storm Watch” is now a “Winter Weather Advisory,” and we could get 3-6 inches. I can’t say I much like the slug of moisture shown in the maps. (Click to enlarge.)

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The only good thing is that there is no arctic high parked just north of the storm. It won’t be “blocked”, and ought to move in and move out swiftly.

I feel this is just the beginning, a sort of “warning shot”, and am glad I bothered get snow tires for my truck.

It was down to 11.5° (-11.7 Celsius) as I hobbled about this morning, got up to 29.1° (-1.6° Celsius) as I hobbled about at noon, and has settled back to 19.9° (-6.7° Celsius) as it starts to cloud over this Friday night, and I thankfully remain seated.