1/2/12 So over New Year’s, it was so warm I was outside in just a sweater. This afternoon I ran in snow flurries, and the temperature tomorrow night is supposed to be 10 degrees. The climate this fall/winter has been so up and down. The late October blizzard dumped 18- inches on my deck at my house in upstate New York. (In New York City, there were a couple of inches of slush.) Then there were one or two little snowstorms, but there’s really been nothing like real winter this whole, well, winter. Long term predictions don’t put any snow in the picture. For NYC, I don’t mind. Snow is such a hassle there. It gets dirty quickly, full of dirt from the air and street and yellow and brown reminders that people who walk their dogs don’t always clean up the way they should. But for upstate, the lack of snow has taken its toll on the ski areas. When it’s cold they can at least make snow, but not when it rains. And there has been plenty of rain, so much so that the little brooks near my house have been flowing, hard and quickly and with a lot of noise. I took the photo above a few days ago when the temperature dipped below freezing for a few days: a little ice around the culvert, but otherwise rushing water. Then it got warm again–and some of my spring bulbs have pushed their shoots above the ground. Sometimes that happens in late February, but this January 2. The way plants and nature work in this zone is that they go dormant when the weather gets cold, building up their energy for the next year. A blanket of snow keeps them just warm enough. At least our bluebirds, who winter over, seem happy. They’ve been eating through a feeder full of meal worms every day. Still, even though last year in February I looked out my window at the vast expanses of white and felt quite claustrophobic, this year I miss the snow. I truly do. Would love your comments. And, I’m on Twitter @Wordwhacker.
People in NYC are going nuts over this snowstorm–it is the largest amount of snow recorded in NYC since before the Civil War. Well, I’m at my country house 120 miles or so north of NYC, and it’s been snowing hard since this afternoon. I did manage a three mile run in the mid-afternoon, the snow stinging my face. Before that, though, I drove into town to get a new snow shovel. So I ended up with three. We needed a new shovel and a bag of “ice melt.” The one we had was old and metal, and it nicked the paint on the back steps and the deck. The new ones, well one looks like our old metal shovel. But then I got these two great ergonic shovels by Rugg, one big and long, the other more Linda-sized. Considering it will warm up tomorrow to the 40′s, and someone comes to plow our driveway, I’m not even sure I’ll need them tomorrow. But I am now prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way this winter. The first winter snow is always so pretty, even when it happens in autumn.
I drove upstate Thursday afternoon because I had to meet up with the guy who is going to be putting up the deer fencing. Yep, those deer. They love my plants and trees, and when the ground gets hard and grass dies in winter, guess what they go for? My plants and trees. So we have elaborate ritual of the plastic netting going up the first week in November and back down about May 15. The deer still manage to get at stuff, but the deer fencing helps. Anyway, when I began my drive it was raining in the city. By Dutchess County, the rain had turned into huge flakes splatting themselves onto my windshield. By Columbia County, the snow was sticking to the grass. By my house–well, it looked like a blizzard. This morning I woke to a bright sky reflecting on endless fields of white, trees limbs that looked like they had been whisked out of a winter holiday store window, and the realization that my snow boots are downstate. It’s 35 degrees already, so most of this will melt within a few hours, and probably I won’t need boots. Still, it’s the largest snow accumulation at such an early date since before the Civil War, I’m hearing on the TV and radio. I wish the kids were little still and were here with me. This wet stuff would make great snowmen. I haven’t been down to town yet, but I bet there were a goodly number of snowball fights this morning. I have no idea what this early snowfall means. Yes, I am a big believer in climate change, as are all the reputable scientists. But, still, this early snowfall is most likely a fluke of nature. But a pretty one. (Note to self: buy snow shovel in town today.)
So in the Northeast, it was the rainiest August on record. Then came the rainiest September, and now we seem to be having the rainiest October. I drove up to the New York Berkshires yesterday to get a bit of quiet to finish up an article past deadline–and to get the car serviced. We have a marvelous mechanic nearby who keeps our Camry Hybrid is ship shape. The weather was still nice when I arrived, but by the time I had finished up some chores, the skies had cloudy over ,and it began to rain. During the night it poured. This morning, rain off and on. I managed a run in the afternoon without getting too wet. Then, suddenly, the skies began to clear. So I whipped out my camera and ran outside and shot a few pictures that captured the deep hues of orange. I think this is what is called “peak color.” Anyway, the evening seemed so nice that I decided to grill myself a hamburg. (Howard is back in the city; had a conference today.) Just as I flipped it over, a few big occasional drops turned into a deluge. Luckily our Weber has a cover. Still, the rain hissed as it fell on the hot hood, and even with an umbrella, I couldn’t make it from the deck to the kitchen table without the grill-toasted hamburg roll getting a little wet. Now it’s been pouring again for hours. If this pattern keeps up, and it gets cold, we’re going to have lots of snow this winter. We need to replace our 22-year-old metal one with a plastic model that won’t scratch the paint from the back steps. Maybe I’ll shop for that tomorrow. It will be raining, so no outdoor time this weekend.
So for around 20 years now, whenever we’ve driven from Chatham, NY to Pittsfield, MA and taken the “short cut,” at the end of Swamp Road in Richmond, MA we see this old one room school house, bright red, mown lawn, flowers in planters out front. We always say, “let’s stop,” but never do. Except we did a couple of weeks ago. First, there really wasn’t any place to park the car. Second, there really isn’t any path to follow to the schoolhouse. Third, you can’t see much once you’re there. I was reminded of how old-fashioned school houses had high windows–so that the students wouldn’t get distracted by what was going on outside. I was too short to see in at all, but Howard and Raph peered in and reported that there was nothing inside. The sign outside says that the one room school house was in use until 1937, and it struck me that somewhere in Richmond there might be somebody who actually learned his or her ABCs in that place. It really is beautifully maintained, except that the picnic benches outside are not in good shape. So why would anyone go there? And when was the last time anyone stopped her car to peak inside? Well, I’m glad we finally did it. It’s off the list. Oh, that’s Raph and Lauren with Howard. I’m behind the camera as always.