Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘spring snow

No Thanks

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I wish there was a reason to believe I would never have to endure another storm like this one. It started nice enough, Wednesday, with a reasonable burst of good old garden variety spring snow.

Then the wind started to increase. That makes a big difference in any weather event. Wind takes everything up a few notches of intensity. It continued to snow, and the wind howled intensely, all night long. By morning we had 8 inches piled on the deck railing, in the small section blocked from the harshest gusts.

And harsh, the wind was becoming. The first thing I noticed when I got out of bed was a plastic roof panel on the end of the woodshed was flapping loose. The way the wind was raging, that panel would not last without some intervention.

We stepped out into the heart of the storm and struggled to fashion a quick, makeshift fix with rope and a couple heavy pieces of firewood. Meanwhile, the morning sky was growing darker and darker. I paused to clean the sticky, wind whipped snow on the front steps just as we got our first of several rounds of lightning and thunder.

It was scary to be outside. Actually, it was scary to be inside, too. The precipitation oscillated between snow, rain, sleet, and hail while the raging gales surged to frightening levels of intensity.

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The sunrise and stormy sky created a strange, ominous glow that seemed to color the snow on the ground. Later, we learned that the orange-brown hue was actually Texas dust carried here by high winds.

This was a really big storm.

I fear the extremes we keep experiencing are soon to become the norm.

I wish I could say, no thanks, and just opt out when these inland hurricanes blow, but I don’t think that choice is available.

Feels a bit like living in a Hollywood disaster film.

I don’t recall, do those tend to resolve with happy endings?

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Written by johnwhays

April 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Horses Endure

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Our horses seemed about as pleased with the monumental April weekend of snow as we were. Despite the weeks of being confined to stalls at the beginning of the year, the relentless onslaught of blowing snow had them eager to get back indoors again.

In the picture above, you can see that Cayenne seems to have stepped up to the front position, which hints at her moving into the leadership void that was left by Legacy’s departure. We’ve noticed several instances lately where this new hierarchy appears to be normalizing. Dezirea, the senior mare, looks to be comfortable maintaining her usual position as the assistant manager, overseeing things from the back of the line.

There was a fair amount of urgency in their attitudes when it came time to bring them in each afternoon. Once inside, out of the wind and wet, the horses calmed significantly.

In the mornings, they willingly step out again for some fresh air, but after a few hours in the storm, they start to look for signs we are preparing to bring them back in.

When we didn’t get to it as quickly as they wished on Sunday when the snow was falling fast and furious, we started to hear a fair amount of vocalizations from them, expressing rather clearly that they felt they had endured enough of the harsh conditions.

It’s going to be a muddy mess out in the paddocks for a while now, but I think the arrival of some sunshine today, and again later in the week, will go a long way toward soothing their recent frustrations.

As it will for us all, I’m sure.

I can’t wait for April weather to actually get here for real.

As for this “Apruary,” we’ve had enough.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Cuttin’ Wood

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The weather on Friday started out just right for getting outside and doing some work in the woods. The air temperature was comfortable, and the ground was frozen, so traversing our terrain was clean and dry. I decided to cut some wood.

DSCN4503eThere are a lot of standing dead trees awaiting my saw, and plenty of dead branches that could use pruning. I started with our apple tree. There were a couple small branches that were easy to reach with my pole saw, but one fair-sized limb up high enough that I needed to throw a line and use a rope saw.

The apple tree was a treat to cut because it smelled marvelous! It also offered a beautiful visual of enticing rings. Such an artistic depiction of the history of the tree. How can I not spend some time creating something worth keeping out of this? With any luck, hopefully something I would actually finish.

I cranked up the chainsaw and successfully dropped a standing dead butternut tree. It was a great victory for me because I needed to first get a line over a small tree in the way so I could pull it aside to make room for the felling. The butternut fell right where I wanted it.

DSCN4500eI had barely sliced the trunk into logs when the perfect day turned into a spring-like snow squall. It forced me to gather my gear and hustle indoors. When I got back out there yesterday, the temperature was hovering just above freezing and the wet new snow began to turn the trails into hazardous, muddy slip-slides.

It is time to minimize travel on our trails for a while in the afternoons.

Maybe that will give me a chance to make good progress on a few art projects in the days ahead. Sounds fun!

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Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

Reality Check

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I am going to pause today in my ongoing chronicle of our Guatemalan adventure to provide some perspective that I think will show why I choose to describe our 10 days with the Morales family in such specific day-to-day detail. This is the April reality that we have returned to at our home, latitude 44.7739° N:

IMG_iP0774eYou may be able to barely make out the silhouette of our horses in the distance through the falling flakes, but you won’t find any palm trees and I can attest that there was absolutely nothing similar to a balmy Pacific breeze.

IMG_iP0777eDo you blame me for wanting to relive every precious warm moment of that visit with our great friends in their beautiful country? It’s winter-cold here again and the wind is gusting mini-blizzards straight out of the Arctic circle this week!

Seriously, tomorrow I am going right back to describing our last days at the beach house and then our return to Guatemala City in preparation of boarding the flight home. Maybe it’s escapism. I’m not proud. I do it because I can.

Aw, heck. I can’t even wait.

This is what I am talking about…

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Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2015 at 6:00 am

Nature’s Course

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There is no getting around the fact that we are at that time of year when the weather can flip from enticingly spring-like to “as winter as ever” in a single day. It can be a tough blow at the end of a harsh winter to be walloped by storms that give the impression the weather is headed in the wrong direction. Today is expected to be one of those tough blows, but it is not clear what the precise position of the storm will be. We are on the edge of a suspected path which could swing either to freezing rain or heavy, wet snow.

IMG_3535eFor the time being, I’m going to enjoy this image of our paddock from Saturday, when the snow had been cleared off the ground and the clouds were gone from the sky. We’ll have more of this type of enjoyment in the days ahead. We just need to tolerate a small setback to a winter storm for a few days.

That’s Dezirea munching hay, with Legacy standing by, on watch.

A couple of days later and it looked like this (although, in fairness, this one was taken with my phone looking through a dirty window from inside our sunroom):

DelilahDeerLegAt Delilah’s desperate urging, I let her outside to chase a squirrel, or squirrels, which had been tugging mercilessly at her predator instincts while she was trapped indoors. I followed her with my eyes as she sprinted deep into the neighbor’s woods to our north, much farther than she normally explores. The unconscious chase left her in new territory, and I would have been surprised if she just turned around and came back into our yard.

She disappeared for quite a while. When Delilah finally reappeared outside our windows, it wasn’t a squirrel she had as a prize, but the bottom portion of a deer leg. It is most likely that she happened upon a carcass that was left by some other predator(s), but she looked so much like a wolf out there, gnawing on that limb in the heavy falling snow, I felt a renewed appreciation for why our cats appear so wary of her.

She’s just doing what comes natural, but it can be almost scary seeing how incredibly proficient she is about it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

Messed Up

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Things are seriously twisted. It should not look like this in the first week of May:

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Yes, it is absolutely beautiful. But, this isn’t the time for it! There are some farmers who won’t be getting their crops in the field in time this year. It is just too wet around here. It was already wet. Now that has been compounded. It is even soggier, and getting later in the year.

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful. It was desperately dry last fall, and all this moisture will be good toward making up for that. It is a bit sad that it comes with a cost, though. The weight of all that snow really did a number on the tree branches. Standing out in the middle of the storm with all other sounds muffled by the snow, the snapping and popping of limbs giving way stood out like the report of rifles at a gun range.

On Wednesday evening, as I drove home from work, the weather reports on the radio indicated there was a chance for large accumulations of snow in a narrow band from the southwest to the northeast across their listening area. That narrow band ended up over our place. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I could see it was already a significant amount. By Thursday morning, it was over-the-top ridiculous.

I had gotten up a bit earlier than usual, trying to contemplate whether or not to attempt the drive to work. The electricity kept kicking out, and then coming back on again. We knew it was a signal that lines were being affected. Finally, around 5:30 a.m., it went dark and stayed dark. Losing electricity means we have no power to pump water from our well, no lights or electricity for our appliances, and no fan for our furnace.

We plotted to use our battery-powered devices sparingly. I just happened to have my phone on when a call came from our geothermal furnace company. He said that he had completed the quote for that backup generator we had inquired about, and wanted to send it to me. I expect he feels quite confident in our willingness to accept the value of his offer, as we read it by flashlight, huddled next to the fireplace.

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Trees falling and branches breaking under the heavy load.

It is funny how, on one hand, we like to exclaim how perilous our situation was, yet at the same time, could adapt to it like it was a pretty posh camping expedition. Overnight, the fireplace helped hold the house temperature in a comfortable range. We collected water that was dripping off the roof, to pour into the toilet tank for flushing. We went to bed when it got dark. It wasn’t that hard to cope.

The difficulty that we struggled with, was not knowing how long we might be in this predicament. By leaving our refrigerator and freezers closed, we could last a moderate duration of an outage. It turned out to be about 28 hours until our power was restored in this incident. Once we get our generator installed, we won’t have that concern.

One other problem I suffered was, getting a sunburn, through the clouds, on my unprotected face. When I am out clearing snow like this in January, the sun is never high enough to be a problem. It just didn’t occur to me at the time, that it was a much higher month-of-May sun up there over the snow clouds.

My whole sense of normal is completely messed up.

Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2013 at 7:00 am