Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Time Weathered

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What a wind we experienced yesterday! A simple walk around the property was an exhausting struggle. The bare branches of our trees clattered overhead as they bounced against one another, putting me on alert about walking beneath them. Delilah’s ability to smell what’d been going on overnight was visibly altered as a wealth of distant scent information was arriving through the air faster than she could parse and the ground scents were being endlessly scrubbed away.

While deep in the woods near the edge of our property, we witnessed the sound of a large tree cracking and falling. My first impression had me turning to my left to look up the hill toward the direction of our house, but that didn’t sound right. Looking in the opposite direction into our neighbor’s woods locked into the full sound, but I couldn’t see the source.

It was definitely impacting multiple trees and the cracking and crunching made quite an impression. I looked toward Delilah and she was staring intently toward the direction of the sound, after which she looked up at me as if to say, “Whoa!” –as in, ‘that was huge!’

Yeah, that was a “whoa” alright. It was a big one that answered any questions about falling trees making sounds whether anyone was there, or not.

We were out on the second trek of the day and I could see the footprint evidence of Cyndie and Delilah’s first walk at dawn. Cyndie was able to stay on top of the frozen crust. It provided a contrast to the other extreme from her afternoon walk the day before when the soft snow had her boots dropping to the full depth, making a stroll on our trail into a real slog.

At the hour I was traveling over the terrain, my boots were just breaking the surface.

Our snowpack has experienced multiple thaw/freeze cycles in the last week and then yesterday the surface was scoured by the relentless battering of gale-force gusting winds. It barely looks like snow anymore. It resembles the surface of the moon, except for the occasional random foot path trails various wildlife visitors have left in their wake.

This morning’s peaceful calm almost enhances the perception of a lunar location.

It’s a calm before the next storm, we are told. A Winter Weather Advisory is on for tonight and tomorrow morning in our location. That crusty surface will be given a fresh new coat of inches on which we get to tread in the days ahead.

Huzzah to that, we say! Bring it on.

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Written by johnwhays

February 27, 2021 at 10:43 am

Relief Comes

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The temperature climbed above zero (F) yesterday. Given the reference point of the biting cold that we have been subject to for the last couple of weeks, stepping out into the February sunshine felt remarkably comfortable. Warm, even. Though it really wasn’t.

Just a little relief from the hunched clenching posture we and the chickens have been maintaining opens up a surprising amount of renewal in mind and body. Rocky and the hens were taking full advantage of the sunny wall on the end of the barn where we clear the snow for them.

Cyndie said the yellow Buff Orpington visible in the background of the image was digging in to take a little dust bath.

In a crazy coincidence of timing, Cyndie sent me a text about how big the icicle had grown from the corner of the barn roof. I suggested she knock it down proactively to avoid it falling unexpectedly. By the time she arrived to tend to the task, it had already fallen on its own.

Apparently, the frozen stalactite sensed our plan just as we were hatching it and took matters up with good old gravity to save us any extra trouble.

I struggle to reconcile a mixture of glee and guilt over the relative good fortune we are enjoying compared to the weather much of the rest of our country is suffering. The extreme cold we have dealt with is something we have lifetimes of experience and knowledge to cope with, while the cold and snow disrupting life in Texas and beyond is bizarrely out of the ordinary for them.

I feel for the hassles they are dealing with while also being grateful we have been spared a similar level of calamity.

May the southern states appreciate how quickly their climbing temperatures will melt the uncharacteristic amounts of snow that have fallen on them as we endure the typical long, slow transition from winter to spring our latitude abides.

Either way, relief does eventually come.

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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2021 at 7:00 am

Faulty Plan

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It was only two days ago that I wrote about the low angle of our December sunlight not providing much melting power. With that knowledge well in hand, what made me think leaving a thin coating of snow on the driveway last weekend was a good idea? Wishful thinking, I guess.

The accumulation had only amounted to a whopping quarter to maybe half-inch of snow across our pavement. It didn’t seem near enough worthy of plowing. Additionally, the days following were predicted to have some sunshine with high temperatures well above the freezing point.

I visualized the tire tracks would move the snow aside and the melty days would then bring out the pavement simply by letting nature take its course. Nature had a different plan.

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Yesterday was the warmer of the two days but all that accomplished was enough melting to turn the snow to ice where the tire tracks packed it down and we’ve run out of warm days. Not only will the temperature drop, today it is expected we will receive between 4 to 8 inches of snow that will cover the icy mess on the driveway.

That’s pretty much a worst outcome in my mind. It will be harder to clear the new snow and the frozen tire tracks will likely linger long into the snow season. The opposite of what I wanted.

🎶 Slip sliding away…

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Written by johnwhays

December 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Minor Minutiae

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…the small, precise, or trivial details of something.

Trivial details, I got.

One thing that bugs me is how my attempts to craft simple little features without engineering them to a level of “bombproof” end up reflecting the amount of proper preparation I failed to put into the effort. (See how I twisted that around?)

I really am pleased with all of the features and framing of that image I captured, but the intended subject was simply the “out-of-level” timber frame I installed as a base for a portable sink feature Cyndie wanted beside the door during summertime. I’ve commented many times about my surprise over how much the ground is constantly moving. It’s like the surface of the sea, except it moves a little slower. Currently, the right-hand side appears headed for the trough while the opposite side is reaching a crest of the rolling land wave.

I was so proud of the effort I put in to make that frame level when I built it. I have no idea if there is a prime time of year to re-establish level again, but I’m guessing it’s not while the ground is frozen. It doesn’t really matter for the sink. I just don’t like the sagging look it presents loud and clear every time I walk up to that door.

While I was taking that picture, two of the Barnevelders showed up to see what I was doing, in case it involved any scraps of food a chicken might enjoy. It didn’t.

 

I love how the closer bird looks like she’s got a foot like a duck and it’s kicked out at an odd angle. It’s a leaf she’s probably standing on. You can’t really see her feet buried in all that snow.

That dusting of flakes was just enough to make things a little slippery in places on our trails and combined with a very noticeable drop in temperature, are making it feel a lot more like December around here. I actually had to dress like it’s winter when I took Delilah for her bedtime stroll last night. Overalls, extra top layer, and mittens! Not gloves. I wore gloves in the afternoon walk and realized it was time to change so the fingers don’t each have to fend for themselves against the frigid temps.

If you are reading this from some warm climate, don’t feel you need to be jealous of how great we have it to enjoy such a full depth of seasons throughout the year. I heard a weathercaster on the news the other night speak erroneously, probably from having the long spell of unseasonably warm weather and getting out of synch with the season. She emphasized that it could get “below freezing” when she meant below zero (F) with the wind chill. It was already below freezing.

It’s enough to make little chicken feet long for the warm sands of summer.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2020 at 7:00 am

Glazed Labyrinth

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Our little mess of weather that couldn’t make up its mind about being rain, ice, or snow ended up being a little of all three earlier this week. It was a little intimidating at the time, but created some nice scenery.

At least I didn’t need to plow or shovel. It was a little crunchy walking the dog over frozen grass and leaves. I am reveling over the fact that for once we weren’t the zone that received the most snow.

Our chickens appear to have enough sense to stay under shelter in times of freezing rain. They hung out under the barn overhang for the most part. Looks like they’ll have at least one more break from full-time winter in the week ahead with daytime temperatures expected to rise above freezing.

So, in case you hadn’t noticed yet this morning, it’s Friday the 13th today. In the year 2020. That seems kind of redundant, doesn’t it?

Tolerating the reality of exponential numbers of spreading virus cases during a global pandemic makes Friday the 13th seem almost quaint.

It could be a good day to walk the crunchy labyrinth and focus our mental energy on positive possibilities. Peace, love, good health, absence of false accusations, full compliance to COVID safety practices by all people, and children able to learn in school full time.

Oooommmmmmmm.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2020 at 7:00 am

Perfect Balance

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If we have to endure so much snow in October, at least we benefited yesterday from a temperature that was the perfect balance for gorgeous falling snow without the need to plow or shovel. The ground isn’t frozen yet and the rate of falling flakes was not high enough to overwhelm the residual warmth in the asphalt of our driveway.

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It was snowing from the moment we woke up until very late in the afternoon but I didn’t need to lift a shovel.

I’m soaking up the pleasure of that to the fullest, knowing the feature won’t last.

This morning the temperature was down to 22°(F), well below freezing. The average for October is a high of 58 and low of 40. Of course, this is the year 2020, so, the word “average” doesn’t apply in the least.

These conditions are more in line with our December weather averages than October. We’re only about a month and a half out of whack.

Sing along with me… “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2020 at 8:25 am

Mixed Seasons

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Delilah doesn’t care that a winter-sized daylong snowstorm blasted into our otherwise reasonable autumnal October weather on Tuesday.

The ground cover is now an interesting mix of snow and leaves. The natural world seems to have lost patience with this thing we call order. What the heck, bring on the snow. We don’t need to wait for the trees to drop all their leaves first.

Delilah loves it. While I trudged with great effort through the deep, wet snow in the woods, she happily raced to sniff one wildlife footprint after another.

I didn’t take Delilah near the chickens during our stroll after I got home from work, so I didn’t see how the birds were coping with their new surroundings, but when Cyndie returned from closing the coop as darkness fell, she reported full merging of young and old on the roosts.

How synchronous! Mixed seasons and mixed flocks of chickens.

Maybe the old birds will share their winter savvy with the young ones.

“If we act like we are stuck and can’t walk anywhere because of the snow, that lady who thinks she’s our mother will shovel a path to the barn.”

She already did.

I’m guessing the young ones have already learned that detail.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Heavy Record

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Not that I’m going to write about the weather or anything… I used to like snow. Yesterday we received a record 7+ inches of heavy, wet and sticky, white stuff. It wasn’t all that likeable for the adventures I faced. Honestly, I shouldn’t complain about my commute home from work, as it was only about a half-hour longer than normal. I didn’t witness any spinouts, cars in ditches, or jackknifed semis (of which the State Highway Patrol reported there were 17). Just slow-moving vehicles along my route.

I left work early to give myself time to arrive at my health clinic for an appointment to get my flu shot. The curvy entrance to the place was a mess of unplowed slushy snow and my four tires had no grip as I rounded a bend and slid sideways into the oncoming lane. Luckily, nobody was coming from the other direction.

The snow was so deep on our driveway, I decided I should plow. This was one heck of a first accumulation, coming in October, barely three days after I mowed the grass around the house and swept up leaves.

The chickens are freaking out over this weather and the young ones seem to have no clue how to deal with it. They got all wet and shivery but wouldn’t be coaxed inside the shelter of their coop. Cyndie ended up chasing every last one of them to force them in by her hands.

We forgot the solution from last year of stuffing plastic along the outer edge of the space between the roof panels and the hardware cloth that is the ceiling of the coop. It keeps out blowing snow. Cyndie reported a lot of white coating the inside.

I hope we aren’t going to run out of names for the winter storms this year like the weather service did for the hurricane season. Starting this early in the season does not bode well.

If they didn’t assign them alphabetically, I think they should name yesterday’s storm, “Yuck.”

Spoken like the old fogey I seem to be turning into as the years go by.

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Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Storm Departs

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Cyndie shared some scenes from the aftermath of a thunderstorm that bowled over us earlier in the week. There has been a steady stream of them lately, most being of the non-concerning variety, but not without some minor consequences.

There is another tree that has fallen across one of our trails. Honestly, before living here, I had no idea how often trees topple over in a forest. Sometimes, it’s even weather-related, but not always.

The backside of the storm was pretty obvious and the blue sky behind it served as a wonderful exclamation mark of bidding the blustery beast good riddance.

After the sun drooped below the horizon, it provided one last parting gift of illuminating a whisp of a heart-shape in one of the lower clouds.

I’ve heard of silver linings, but this cloud definitely had a pink one.

We’ve been spared the hail that some areas received the other night, and for once, the total precipitation amounts have bounced between a quarter and a half of an inch, instead of overflowing our rain gauge. A blessing that we do not take for granted one bit.

All the aspects of our paradise glow and flourish in the aftermath of each rumbly event of rocky weather. As I recline on our deck or inside the screen door soaking up the glorious calm, there is no place I would rather be.

It’s social distancing on the grandest of scales.

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Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Mind

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It’s a battle to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook amid a pandemic that our government has failed to effectively manage, which has our economy teetering on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, Cyndie’s garden extravaganza can be described as nothing but a bountiful success and our new brood of rambunctious chicks inspire visions of a wonderful future.

My mood of the moment has been swinging wildly between hope and despair.

Federal secret police snatching protesters in Portland? The White House disrupting coronavirus reporting to the CDC? What is our government up to and why does there seem to be no way to enact checks and balances that once protected our democracy? Why is it that the current President has been allowed to keep his financial interests secret all this time?

Last night we lucked out once again in the stormy weather lottery. We were spared even a hint of destructive wind in the moments after warnings and radar images indicated a tornado was headed in our direction. We have yet to hear any reports of whether the vicinity around us was impacted negatively.

I can report the lightning bolts flashing dramatically in the clouds overhead were more frequent and numerous than I have ever witnessed before in my life. The constant rumble of distant thunder never once appeared to match the immediate flashes occurring directly above our location which baffled my understanding of the way things work.

I cannot fathom what actual energy was at play to generate such a dazzling display of countless electrical arcing bolts without the usual accompanying impacts of typical thunder. Just one night prior, we suffered two BOOM!s of thunder that scared me into a clench of inadvertent reaction that lasted three times as long as the explosion of thunder itself. The worst of those incidents surely was one that struck somewhere close enough that light and sound were simultaneous.

I can’t say for sure because I was attempting to be asleep at the time.

The warming of our planet assuredly is unleashing greater intensity of local storms, but each time we escape unscathed I feel a moment of hope that our destruction is not imminent. Tornadoes can be devastating, but they can also be relatively precise as to the areas of impact.

That is a little like deciding to raise free-range chickens in an area that includes foxes, coyotes, possums, skunks, feral cats, occasional passing mountain lions, neighboring dogs, and marauding raccoons.

It mixes my mind.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2020 at 9:57 am