HERD ABOUT IT?
by Ana Grarian
The dog woke me at 5 am to go for a walk. Actually, she and the cat are in cahoots. Our morning ritual involves feeding the cat before our walk. Then when we get home the cat goes out and the dog gets to lick out the cat dish. Spring must be coming, which explains the earlier morning hour, though it is still dark out.
The idea of spring feels wrong this year, as we have not yet had winter. Finally some snow in the past 24 hours, but that will be gone in a day or two when the temperatures go back up into the 40’s. We are short a couple of feet of snow for the winter so far. It could still come. Late winter often brings piles of heavy wet snow that hopefully could recharge the water table.We’ve always had cold, snowy winters, punctuated with a few warm days. January thaw was 1-2 weeks of sweatshirt weather after slogging through a month or more of below zero and wind. We have a saying here “it’s too cold to snow”, and generally that’s true. When those cold weeks morphed into 20+ degree weather – then watch out, snow was on the way. Even the occasional 70 degree day in Dec or Feb is not unheard of.This winter has been completely opposite. We’ve been warm with only a couple of days in the single digits, and most above freezing. I’ve only shoveled the sidewalk 3 times, and I think the town only plowed once. I’ve only had my boots on once.
My father saw the year without summer, I’m beginning to think I may live to see the year without any winter.
Now winter is not over. It’s only mid February and even March can bring significant snow. We usually have a little snow on Easter just to spark up the sunrise service, and we’ve seen it for Mother’s Day.
This year I have been following temperatures in CNY, the Adirondack Park, and White Plains. Almost every day the temperatures are within a few degrees of each other. If a weather front is moving through it might roll over several days. This is just peculiar.
It’s not that I love slugging through slush and shoveling snow all that much. Walking to work on ice with the wind blowing is plenty unpleasant. I do enjoy the crisp, still winter nights, and bright sunny winter days, when everything seems so clean. Even ice storms, though admittedly dangerous, can turn the world nto a fairyland sparkling with jewels.
This morning was a perfect example. The snow was coming straight down, temperatures were in the teens, the town was quiet and the streetlights were muted. The kind of morning you could just keep on walking and walking.
A few years ago I started to learn about the different economic effects of a mild winter. Snow plow drivers lose money, but town save money. Auto repair shops, and their employees, make more money, but drivers lose money. Of course ski slopes, snow mobile dealers lose money. Lawn care businesses can earn more if grass grows earlier or later. Book stores vary. If the weather is too bad people stay holed up at home. If the weather is sort of bad, they come in for a good book to curl up with.
They just changed our gardening zone. Turns out this is the second time since 1990! What? Just how many times has our growing zone changed in my lifetime? The guy from cooperative extension was talking about growing fig trees here. WTF?
Some folks at the store were saying that when they came here they were told that in 20 years this area would be more like Atlanta. Another customer said that if that happened a lot of people would be moving here.
Not me! If this is going to be Atlanta (and especially if that means a larger population) I am skedaddling.
I wonder if that camp in the ADK’s is still available?
I miss the winters up there, though they tell me at our place in Beaver River that they too have suffered because snowmobiling is so crucial to the Adirondack economy.
Going up and down hills must be a nightmare in some of the more hilly towns, like Ithaca. It was no fun when I lived there. Anyone who says they love driving in the snow is suicidal or crazy: maybe both.
But there’s nothing like heading down a lake on a Polaris, stopping in and soaking in the stars. The muffled quiet of late night as snow drifts lazily down. The way freshly fallen snow seems to decorate the trees, the hills, even phone lines.
Winter in the South is useless. It’s mostly only pretty with an ice storm and they are treacherous. No one knows how to handle it and schools close if they think they might have the slightest chance of seeing a flake.
I spoke with someone from London Ontario Canada, and they have had a very mild winter also.
Ithaca does an excellent job with their roads. If you take it easy driving isn’t so bad. As you get further up the hills and out into farm land, it is the wind and drifting snow that are the problem. And of course they have torn out all the hedge rows, and trees that used to line the roads and inhibit drifting.
Driving on snow when it’s very cold is ok, it’s the wet stuff at around 30-35 degrees that is greasy and treacherous.