Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SNOW, NO SNOW…

Pouring snow earlier this morning.
As I write, the sky is an unbroken gray and snow is falling rather briskly here along the river. Of course, the up-to-the-minute latest forecast from the National Weather Service says we'll have mostly sunny skies all day; the possibility of snow is not mentioned.
Uh-huh. There are times when I think God simply does this to the weather folks to keep them from being too impertinent and forgetting who is really in charge of such matters.
We also had snow a couple of days ago—not that it amounted to all that much. For all its blowing and swirling, in the end, I'd guess my home stretch of riverbank received a bit over an inch. One of those snows which winds up somewhat short of covering the ground in a thick, fluffy, unbroken mantle of white, but is instead thin enough that bits of leaves and sticks show through. Worse are the grass tips. They might not be so visible if I'd given the yard one more mowing last fall instead of succumbing to the distraction of autumn's colorful leaves. Distracted to the point where I allowed certain yard chores to fall by the wayside. Now, those same neglected green tips stick up above the white like quills on a porcupine. Or perhaps tiny emerald Excaliburs, each being raised and held above the snow's surface by the arm of the Lady of the Lake. Either way, they're doing their best to nag at my conscience, stirring guilt by providing one more reminder of myblasé work ethic.
In case you're wondering, we had rain for Christmas. This happens fairly often here in the southwest corner of the state. We sing about a white Christmas, long for a white Christmas, and picture the day against a backdrop of white in our imagination…but reality is apt to arrive rainy, muddy, and in the low-40s˚F, or at least brown and dry and bitterly cold or windy rather than storybook white.
I don't think it has anything to do with global warming, though it may very well reflect a warmer trend of a long-term weather cycle which the region—if not the entire hemisphere—seems to go though every hundred years or so. When I was a kid—up to about about age ten—December hereabouts was a month filled with snow. In fact, you could generally count on some pretty fair snows beginning in November—first flurries, then coverings that lasted a day or two. A white Thanksgiving was nothing unusual.
December continued the trend—more morning flurries and light, blowing snows; snows which might measure a half-inch or six inches, but disappeared after a day or two. Then, about the third week in, things typically began to change. The snow started to stick; each successive snow simply adding its load to the one before. By Christmastime we generally had a foot or so of accumulation on the ground. I could sled the block from my grandparents's house down the slight hill to our front gate. When I was five years old a reporter from the local paper came out and did a short photo piece on an igloo my dad had built for me in the back yard. That year, a really severe storm had left drifts level with the front porch and covering the fence—at least five feet deep.
Moreover, December's latter, after-Christmas snows were buried under those of January…and those by the snows which arrived in February. Once that "staying snow" came (which is how I've heard oldtimers refer to that December snow which formed the base for subsequent snows) over the next two months, you weren't apt to see anything but a white ground cover until March. Two-and-a-half or three months of white.
If you talk to many of the real seniors who remember how it was locally just after the turn of the Twentieth Century—oldsters now in their 90s—they'll tell you about going to school and church via horse-drawn sled. Roads were impassible unless you used runners instead of wheels. In the 1900s, the few automobiles around—a lot of them Model T Fords—were thereby shunted to the barn where they were drained of fluids, usually placed on blocks with their wheels removed to prevent damaging stiff rubber tires, covered with a tarp to protect their shiny black paint from pigeon droppings. And there they'd sit, these delicate newfangled vehicles powered by their "infernal combustion engines," ignominiously resigned to some dark corner, under a dusty shroud, awaiting springtime resurrection in March or maybe April, depending on the severity of "mud season."
Nowadays, winter isn't one continuous season of white. Snows fall, lay around awhile, melt. I don't know what the old boys would have done…would they have used wagons or sleds? Runners or wheels? I expect mud would have been a more serious problem, since the ground didn't freeze and stay that way until spring, but periodically thawed into a messy quagmire. However, that flivver in the barn would have been as incapacitated as ever, unlike the 4-wheel drive hill-climbing, mud-hogging, snow-bucking machines of today.
And just to keep the record straight…it's been a couple of hours since I began writing this post. Naturally, I got distracted, watched birds at the feeders, looked at the river, ate an oatmeal cookie—okay, three—talked on the phone, futzed around around with my new i-Pod, uploaded a bunch of shots from the camera to the computer. The snow stopped. The clouds moved off. Now, it is bright and sunny outside. The weather-guessers are suddenly right, like a stopped clock that displays the correct time every twelve hours.
Snow, no snow…

18 comments:

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Great pictures and great post. I enjoyed your shared memories of your childhood and the snow process from November to March. And I love that your Dad built you an igloo and it made the paper. Great, great memory. Our Winter's in CT were similar to yours, now and then. :-)
We hd a white Christmas this year and it was lovely. And a big storm is coming in New Years Eve and will sustain through the whole weekend. I wish Skipp didn't have to work - but I will be safe and warm - lots of wood inside, plenty of cocoa and wine and left over goodies and old movies to watch. No complaints, and also my son bought me a great book so I will get in to that as well. :-)
I guess I rambled on a bit - enjoy everything.
Love you
Gail
peace......

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Hey, never apologize for rambling on this site…I do it all the time! Besides, I wouldn't call that a ramble—just a comment with meat.

Kind of a sunny, cold, damp, slow day here. I'm thinking hearthfire, book, and something warm to drink later on. Just a good day—now heading toward evening—to do nothing. Maybe I just have the blahs…

Carolyn H said...

Griz: Power outage, wind, cold... it's definitely winter. I still have some snow, though. Had a white Christmas in the rain. Or was that freezing rain? It changes so fast I can't keep track.

Carolyn h.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

Nothing close to that here. There's a bit on snow on the ground and right now the temp is 26˚F. But the sun is just getting ready to set and the river is down and almost clear from a rise earlier in the week. There's no wind. So all in all, not a bad late-December late-in-the-day.

Stay warm up there on your mountain!

Bernie said...

Hi Grizz, really enjoyed your post and all the memories it held.
I have just come in from doing errands and had a doctors appointment. It is snowing again and it is so pretty outside, the highway was clear but the city streets are horrid. I love these kind of days though and of course we have tons of snow from the past two weeks. Everything is white and pristine. I also had some wonderful birds perched on my tree outside my bedroom window and I loved hearing them chirp....I absolutely love these kinds of days, I have biscuits in the oven and am making a turkey stir fry for supper with lots of peppers, onions to serve over rice. Life is good and my heart is so full of gratitude and happiness, I wish with all my heart that 2010 will be wonderful for you and your new bride....all good things are coming your way my friend, I just feel it.....:-) Hugs

Debbie said...

I really enjoyed your post. It contained great historical information as well as sensible weather patterns info. Check my blog for our weather situation when you have time.
I followed your example and hung my biggest bird feeder outside the window where I craft and work. I haven't accomplished anything since except I have some great pictures of bird on my blog, which you can also peruse at your leisure. As usual, your pictures are great. Yea, you shoulda scalped that grass the end of November! We live and learn!
:D Debbie

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Love the snow photo!

The 'mud season' is a lovely phrase - I used to like making mud pies when I was a youngster!

Wanda said...

It was a very slow day here today also, except I did have a deer eating sunflower seeds out of the bird feeder. It was one of the 2 small ones that have visited here all summer. The exact scenerio played out last year with 2 other small twin deers. Winter comes and they head for the seeds.
Enjoyed your post of snow memories.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Sounds like you've had a very fine day up there in all that snow. And to tell you the truth, I love lots of snow—especially if I have a comfortable, snug hideout. I had hopes for this morning's unexpected snow, though it didn't pan out.

There were birds at the feeders all day…and the Carolina wren and whitethroated sparrows—both of which I love—sang their hearts out. Your turkey stir-fry and biscuits sound good.

You take care of yourself. I hope 2010 proves filled with blessing for ALL of us!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Debbie…

Close-up bird watching is a curse to getting much work done some days, for sure. Not that I'm about to move my one nearest-to-the-window feeder or close the blind!

(FYI, in the future, you might want to restrain yourself from following my example in regards to anything which has the potential to effect your work; if I do it, chances are it's going to interfere from getting the job done. I'm practically world-class when it comes to self-distraction, frivolous diversion, impromptu hindering, and chronic sidetracking. Don't say you weren't warned!)

I say it isn't too-long grass that's the problem here, but too-short snow. Do I regret not giving the yard one more shearing? Nahhhh. I do kinda wish I'd have finished raking those last leaf piles because I keep tripping over 'em. Otherwise, me and my landscaping sins are in pretty fair agreement.

I will make a visit to your posts…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

Hey, I've made my share of mud pie, too. And mud balls. And little mud creatures that, when hardened in the summer's sun, were painted and brought in, where they were promptly plopped onto Mom's pristine kitchen table—much to her consternation…and immediately thereafter were just as promptly removed back to the backyard under threat of a shin-tingling switching.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

I have a deer story to tell, too, in a future post. But it just the same daily gang of birds and squirrels doing the eating of my sunflower seeds—and, of course, Lord knows what else after dark.

A sunny, pretty day here along the river. But just one of those quite sort of days which just seems to drift past without a hint of fanfare.

TheChicGeek said...

Scribe, you make me giggle with your storytelling...I am smiling right now. I officially declare you #1 Weatherman in the country! We need to give you a microphone and a weathermap :) That was quite an enjoyable breakdown there. I've often felt the same way as you, that the good Lord likes to mess with the weathermen just so they remember who's in charge :) I like that.

So cool your dad built you an igloo :) When I was small my grandpa built me a tepee which we loved and played in in the backyard constantly...California girls get tepees, Ohio boys get igloos...LOL
When the chill of winter arrived we'd move the tepee in the house.
Life is fun, isn't it.
Have a Happy New Year, Scribe :)
Hugs :))
Kelly

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly (CG)…

Hey, it was a pretty good igloo as igloos go—and built correctly, too. Dad sliced up "blocks" of hard-crusted, compressed snow, laid them in a circle, and rounded to a dome. Had a cute little crawl-in entrance. (Dad was a carpenter, among other things, and built structures of all sorts.) You could put about a half-dozen adults inside. That igloo lasted about two months.

I'm not a great weather predictor, but I'm rather accurate when it comes to looking out the window and figuring out whether it's raining or snowing, sunny, cloudy, or windy; for temperature assessment, I go out and feed the ducks…and if my assessment nearly freezes off while I'm throwing the quackers their corn, I know it's cold.

Simple, really. :-)

KGMom said...

Well, I wasn't sure what accounted for your brief period of silence. Being newly wed? Being snowed in? Being out of thoughts?
We have had bone-chilling, finger cracking cold here. And today a wind whipping through from the north, so that the outside temperature feels like single digits.
Brrrrrr.
I'll take snow, thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Between being semi-felled by illness (I still have a lingering cough) and near swamped by Christmas and all those necessary tasks falling more behind every day—I guess when I got past some of that, I just needed a few days to clamber out of the hole. Inertia and laziness played a part, too. Plus I haven't been able to get outside much as it sets me to coughing. But…I'm making inroads into things, and hope to be posting about as regularly as I typically manage from here on out. We'll see…

It's 23˚F here at the moment. No wind, though, or at least none apparent here, tucked close to the river's corridor and well below the low hills protecting either side. The sun is still trying to decide whether or not to rise. The river is back to normal pool after being up several feet due to the Christmas Day rain. The prediction is a 40 percent chance of snow this evening. I'm heading off to Cincinnati to prowl a couple of used book stores this afternoon. If the snow holds off until I get back, that will suit me fine—afterwards, it can do what it wants. I'll also choose snow over bone-numbing cold.

Sydney said...

Exactly! I tell people all the time when I was a kid in the suburbs just northwest of Chicago that we had white Thanksgivings all the time... Never heard anyone else use that term. And snow did stay. When my husband, who grew up in TX but has a log cabin high in the Rockies sees a 20 hours snow that piles up to 12 inches he thinks it's a huge storm. I'll take it but I wanted to say, this is what you get to start and then more and more... if you get a drift halfway up the front door and no electricity for a few days, it's a huge storm in my book.

I loved hearing about the sleighs and how cars had to be put away and why. Never knew that. I do have a 4 wheel drive Jeep, and always have. Makes me feel l can mow over most things in most weather, if I have to... get a great sense of security out of it.

I'm late commenting, but love reading the posts anyway.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sydney…

I've know plenty of white Thanksgivings, too. Not that I recall it firsthand, but in 1950, this part of Ohio had a Thanksgiving blizzard that left 25-FOOT drifts!

When I was just a couple of years old, my father built a small sled with a sort of wrap-around box seat, so I could sit inside the enclosure and Mom could pull me up and down the street to and from my grandparents' home. It used to start snowing in late-November or early-December and the ground (and our street) would stay covered until at least the latter part of February. Mom was always afraid she might slip on the ice and fall and hurt me if she was holding me in her arms—and I could barely walk. So Dad built the sled and I got pulled up and down the street for weeks on end each year…usually with my dog, Penny Pooch, sitting in the seat alongside. Mom loved taking me to Grandma and Grandpa's a half-dozen times a day.

Your husband hasn't experienced real snow. I have a piece of land in a little town up on the shores of Lake Superior on Michigan's U.P., and they receive an average of 300 inches of snow annually; and out on the Keweenaw, they get another 50 inches beyond that. Tell him to measure a point somewhere that's 350 inches above the ground, imagine it's snow, and then see what he thinks about a measly 12 inches!

Even here in Ohio, I've seen snow drifted overtop the yard fence dozens of times.

Hey, late is only a matter of perspective. Read and comment anytime you like. I'm always tickled to hear from you!