Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Spring Wobbles

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Our weather yesterday took a little wobble backwards away from summery, returning to winter-like conditions all day long. In addition to feeling downright cold, there was a fair amount of precipitation that fell as snow.

As I reached the roads near home toward the end of my commute, snow accumulation was visible in the fields. Talk about a cold reception.

Ah, but this is spring. A short while later…

It might look a little friendlier, but it wasn’t any warmer outside.

The surfaces that hold the snow for longer than a split second can be surprising.

It’s impressive how easily weather can inspire or deflate a person’s energy. Lucky for me, Cyndie had a plan B to offer an alternative mood lifter when I walked in the door. Actually, I smelled the fresh-baked ginger snap cookies before I even opened the door from the garage.

I allowed myself to deviate from my controlled sugar diet for a few hours.

No matter how cold it was outside, my heart was feeling plenty warm.

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Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Sky Colors

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We enter our third day of the current weather trend where rain is expected all day but comes in bands that are separated by reasonably agreeable conditions that don’t last long and end without warning. One minute it is actually a rather nice day and then, nope, it’s raining like crazy for a second but now it’s just a spattering drizzle.

During the week when I am occupied with the day-job, I rely heavily on the always interesting images that Cyndie captures while she is out walking Delilah or tending to the chickens. News is that our Rocky the Roo has become pretty frequent with his challenges to see if Momma is still at the top of the pecking order.

Cyndie has needed to conjure up her “bigger-rooster-than-you” posture and gestures to convince Rocky that he doesn’t want to mess with the humans in charge. I sure hope our lessons will translate to include all other humans who come to visit, as well.

I wonder if Rocky let out a hearty morning crow for this sunrise Cyndie captured.

The rain has quickly transformed the color palette of our landscape toward a much greener hue. In addition to the burgeoning buds on branches, the areas of mowed grass are looking almost summer-like.

The real feature of this last shot, though, isn’t the green grass. It’s the fabulous light from above Cyndie captured highlighting that billowing cloud.

I really, really hope we get a few breaks in the rain this morning like the ones in these pictures because my Ritchie® automatic waterer installer told me last night that he would stop by in the morning and that’s the closest I’ve come yet to getting him to commit to an actual day and approximate block of time since I first requested his assistance two or three weeks ago.

When the source of skills and knowledge desired is also a really like-able guy, it is easier to endure the anguish of waiting for him to eventually get around to it, but it sure tests a patient man’s patience. I will be exceedingly happy when (and admittedly, if) he shows up.

Maybe I’ll have time to take pictures of an interesting sky while I’m down there eagerly waiting in a couple of hours.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Spring Erupting

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It is fascinating to witness what a couple of days with temperatures in the 80s unleashes in the natural world. Between the heady gusts of wind randomly battering us throughout the day, the myriad sounds of emerging frogs are woven into the songbird whistles on top of a persistent snapping and cracking of pinecones gradually, but steadily, opening.

New buds are appearing on tree branches and ground cover plants are sprouting tiny flower blossoms.

Cyndie reported that our neighbor to the south was out on his lawn tractor, appearing to mow the grass. I am not surprised to learn he is already out on his machine, as he mows more acres, more often than anyone I have ever seen. I just don’t know how he found any grass tall enough to cut yet. Our grass doesn’t look like it will be ready to mow until tomorrow or the next day.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week and temperatures are expected to moderate. That will only pause the explosion of growth unfolding before our eyes for a moment because the water will hydrate thirsty plants and launch a monumental next phase of greening to our surroundings.

Seems a little odd that a frog would seek shelter from some rain, but Cyndie found this little guy hanging out under the recliner in our sunroom.

Is that some sort of hint about how wet the next few days will be? Maybe how cold it will get?

No matter how nice and warm the last few days have been, it is always in the back of my mind that we received 18 inches of snow on the 2nd & 3rd of May in 2013. Nice weather today is no guarantee it will continue through the rest of spring.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

Snow Returns

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It is March, after all. We expect it to snow after the weather has been warm and gorgeous for days. It is one of the foundations of the prevailing expectation that “the other shoe will drop” when things are beginning to go too good in the weather department around these parts. Mother Nature wouldn’t want to let us off too easily with a quick and painless slide directly into spring, don’t ya know.

I watched the weather radar most of the day from the workplace and it looked like Beldenville was getting just as much snow as the sloppy mess that was covering my car by the time I was ready to leave. As soon as I got underway in the limited visibility due to heavy falling snowflakes, I phoned Cyndie to find out what was waiting for me on the other end of my commute.

She shocked me with a report of zero precipitation falling and just grey skies all day long. Well, that is, except for first thing in the morning.

Cyndie had sent me that image earlier in the day. “Red sky in the morning, Sailor take warning…”

For all the radar signals I’d seen over our area most of the day, none of the precipitation was reaching the ground. I hardly believed her, especially given the intensity of the blizzard I was driving through at the time. Then I reached the halfway point of my commute and the falling snow abruptly stopped.

The road was dry. The rest of my drive was clear sailing. I drove right past our place to arrive on time at my dentist’s office for a regular 6-month appointment, stopping just as little white flakes started to fall there. The precipitation finally was reaching the ground.

By the time I made it home, the snow was just beginning to cover the ground, although, it was already drifting off the roof.

As darkness fell and Cyndie trudged out to close the chicken coop, she wondered if it would be necessary to clear them a path from the barn overhang to the coop.

Nope. They took it upon themselves to muster the gumption for a mad dash bee-line route through the white stuff for the shortest distance between two points.

So much for Rocky’s usual prissy refusal to walk on snow unless momma shovels a path for him. I knew he didn’t have some medical condition that prevented his feet from being able to touch snow, but I think he had convinced Cyndie with his act.

Once all the birds were accounted for in the safe confines of the coop and all the eggs had been collected, Cyndie reported a record of ‘most-eggs-in-a-day’ for this brood: Eleven eggs from thirteen hens.

They’re not going to let a return to a little cold and snow slow them down.

Just in time, our new extra-large ice cube trays arrived yesterday for Cyndie to use for freezing eggs, sans shells. Convenient storage for future use in baking or cooking egg dishes when we no longer get a dozen eggs a day.

What can be said, except, “Eggcellent!”

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Wild Commute

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Yesterday afternoon I drove home through some crazy March Minnesota weather and lived to tell about it. The weather was pretty amazing but the highest threat to my well-being was a crazy driver who raced through heavy traffic at break-neck speed, weaving through four lanes of almost bumper to bumper cars and trucks, narrowly accommodated by all the other drivers who somehow braked in the nick of time to avoid catastrophe.

I can only hope the person putting everyone else in danger was facing an utmost emergency that necessitated the scary choice of behavior.

Beyond that incident, the rest of the wild drive was all weather-related. It started calmly enough with occasional random sprinkles of rain and just enough road-spray from traffic to keep my windshield messy. I hadn’t even made it halfway when brake lights started lighting up as rain started to fall with intensity. There was a flash of lightning.

In a blink, the sky became eerily dark as the heavy downpour brought visibility down to a vague glimpse of the taillights of the car in front of me.

As quick as it started, the rain stopped. The dark sky evolved to a dreary grey. In a few more miles the world took on a strange orange glow as somewhere high above the sun was bathing the blanket of clouds that were hugging the ground.

When I reached the fields around our neighborhood, the few remaining patches of snow looked like they were spewing smoke into the air above them. Clouds of moisture were rising off the cold snow as the temperature reading on my dashboard indicated 57°(F).

At the last turn onto our road, the sun was shining through broken clouds as the weather forecaster on the radio talked about the snow accumulation expected out of this system just to our north and the tornado watch issued for our county and all the others in three directions around us.

It felt like our house was in line for some of the hail and drama that was already being reported upwind of our area but in the end, the worst of the storm slid around our location.

That was a welcome outcome after the wild ride that preceded it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 11, 2021 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Seasonal Scenes

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We are definitely in transition mode. The maple syrup producers are collecting sap as the daytime temps rise above freezing and then dip back down overnight. The ditches have started to fill with running water. Moisture is leaving the snowpack and going airborne.

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The patchy fog makes driving to work in the dark a real challenge as the visibility drops to zero in a blink one minute and becomes clear as a bell the next.

The receding snow cover unveils evidence of the rodent activity that goes on out of sight beneath the icy blanket. No wonder our dog cocks her head and looks down at the snow like an arctic fox and then leaps into the nose-first dive after whatever is making that sound that only dog and fox ears seem to detect.

The chickens are reveling in the expanding exposure of insect-rich soil. They have also amped up their egg production to record levels for this brood.

Today they may get a dose of March rain that forecasters hint could include some thunder by afternoon. By next week, the precipitation will likely be back to snow.

These are all typical scenes of our season of transition known as the month of March.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

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