February can be a strange month around here. Poke through the archives of this blog and see for yourself. For that matter, a lot of the winter-time stuff found in these pages verges on the odd, perhaps due to a phenomenon known by some as “cabin fever.” Some others will say they’ve come down with a mild case of the “winter blahs” and a goodly number of folks will become so s.a.d. they must sit near bright lights of appropriate spectrum to survive. Around here we prefer the term “shack nasties” but the irony is that, no matter what you call the way folks feel mid-way through a long winter grind, it can happen even to those who are able to get out of their cabin or shack.
Posts Tagged With: snow
So there I was, ready to wax rhapsodic as spring returned, but winter threw a hissy fit.
(A new tab at the top of this page (or this link) will take you to a collection of photos and links following the production of maple syrup this spring from the sugar bush of some friends. Their new enterprise is called Bobo’s Mountain Sugar, and the taps are in on Bobo’s Mountain — all 2500 of them.)
In mixed martial arts, tapping out is an act of submission, the end of a fight, and often the result of a violent twisting of arms. In maple syrup production, tapping out is a declaration of victory, the end of a job that no one’s arm had to be twisted to do.
The snow was deep when I started helping on the hill above the sugar house, but I waded and floundered and stomped my way along the lines, tapping trees for a few hours each afternoon, doing what I could. The steepness of the hill, combined with thickets of beech and short balsams, had me convinced I made the right call in leaving my snowshoes at home, even as more flakes fell every day. After struggling in the wake of an additional 14+” from one storm, I finally gave in and strapped them on the next day.
If, as they say, snowshoes make the impossible difficult, it was a very hard afternoon. Without my snowshoes I had sunk to my knees; with them I still sank to my knees and had to high-step to clear the holes I’d made, with the decks weighted down with snow. Lifting a leg, expecting 25 pounds of resistance but getting none because the snow slid off, resulted in a few sharp blows to my chin and twice I kneed myself in the ear when my right foot sank deeper as I lifted my left. Continue reading
More than a foot of snow snuck in the first part of this week, in the form of several small batches, so when Wednesday’s already grim Winter Storm Warning included the words “locally higher totals possible” it was a good bet Fish in a Barrel Pond would get its fair share.
The Weather Channel (not the National Weather Service) has decided that winter storms need names, in the same way hurricanes and typhoons need names. Blizzards and hurricanes don’t care what they are called but evidently TV producers feel their coverage is more compelling if we are able to somehow humanize dangerous meteorological phenomena, which is interesting because effective propaganda generally dehumanizes the enemy.
We humans name all kinds of stuff that need not be named, and I myself admit to the occasional anthropomorphic fit. A chicken I called “Tiny” was snatched away by a bear last spring and I once knew a tapir we called “Jim” because it was easier than saying “ear tag #P379″ but the closest I’ve come to naming weather would have to be “that awful cold snap in ’92″ or “the huge freakin’ blizzard during lambing in ’05.”
This most recent storm was given a TV name and many people will use it when they look back on this historic nor’easter. They got hammered and maybe it will help to have a name to shout as they shake their fists at the sky, but step away from the news and the roads and the towns and it was just more wind and snow.
The Outdoor Blogger Network’s most recent photo prompt is “The Look of Winter.” A week ago I would have posted a photo of brown woods and green ice. Today, I post this:
One 1250th of a second. A random snippet of time, an instant, now long gone — never to occur again — but preserved forever in cyber space. Weird.
That image says something, conveys a feeling, suggests a mood, but it is just one tiny note in an opus. This little opus here is a bit more than 150,000 notes long:
As if on cue, rain started to fall shortly after I began writing A Pause in the Wobble the other day. As I wrote, the ice went from being hard, like thick glass, to something softer and more pliable, like plastic, as a giant puddle formed across its surface.
The rain that fell could only spread out across the level sheet and the mild air kept it from freezing, creating a lake on top of a lake.
(True story: I once had to transport a queen-size bed halfway across the state of Vermont and then across a mile and a half of ice on Lake Champlain. Used a pickup truck and, of course, it rained. It rained a lot. It rained so much there was six inches of water standing on the ice when we got there so I walked the entire way, slipping and splashing, looking for holes, while Mrs. Gordon and her brother followed slowly in the truck, doors open and seat belts off, just in case. Kind of like Ice Road Truckers, but with a lot more screaming. Mrs. Gordon was a little upset, too.)
The images above are just not what one would expect to see in Vermont a few days before Christmas, but as quickly as things changed the other night, they changed again last night and these are some pictures I took when I went out this morning: Continue reading
Some members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society seem to spend more time grumbling about the conditions than they do fishing (see It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over, for example). I do not mean to imply that guys like Dr. Marcus Feely are the norm, or even a majority, but sometimes it seems that way, so it always does my heart good when folks show up ready for anything, even cooking paella outdoors, in a snow storm (See Pictures from a Fishing Camp: Season’s End).
The camps have been closed for nearly a month but members may fish from the main dock, if they wish, until the lake is covered with ice. Not many of them do, and after more than a foot of heavy, wet snow fell on Wednesday, I figured fishing was done for the year. The lake remains free of ice, so casting is still possible, but after struggling to get chains on the tractor, clearing the dooryard and digging paths to the barn and the chicken coop, digging out a spot for some yo-yo to fish from was not high on my agenda.
Imagine my surprise then, when I returned from a walk in the woods yesterday and found that not only was someone fishing, said angler had brought along his own snow shovel and cleared the dock (well, most of it).
When he turned to me and said, “Grab your rod, Quill, I cleared you some space, too!” there was only one appropriate response.
I am thankful for anglers who are willing to shovel a foot of snow, warm gloves, and the little brook trout who took a tiny pheasant tail nymph on such a lovely day.
Rain and slightly warmer temperatures this week raised water levels and the ice on the river, upstream of our village, is breaking up. Snow on the banks is collapsing, adding to the floes, and a jam yesterday forced water out of the channel and into the fields. The water has receded somewhat today but, if the ice jam lets go, there could be big trouble in town.
There are times when any opening in the trees seems as good as another but things are not always as they seem. There is a trail around Fish in a Barrel Pond and, no matter how many times I tromp it down, regular snow-fall fills it back in. If it was only me using the trail, I wouldn’t worry about keeping it open, but it is not so I do. Some members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society like to get out once in a while, and when two of them came up last week I told them I hadn’t been out since the last big snow but they said it wasn’t a problem; they knew the way and they would be happy to break the trail for me. Continue reading