Wednesday, November 16, 2016

North Country snow season #phenology

Local meteorologists seem pretty sure that somewhere in Minnesota will get a load of snow this Friday and Saturday, they just seem to be having a little problem pinning down the track of the storm. Since we have our freshly tuned snow blower back from the shop, I believe the heavy snow band should set up well to our North and West. Unless, of course, many of the good folks who live to our North and West have also had their snow blowers attended to, in which case we might be sufficiently outnumbered by those who are also prepared that the heavy snow will end up in our yards. We won't know until the storm is over where the bubble of preparedness (remember the Cone of Silence from Get Smart?) set up and deflected the storm track.

early snow
early snow
Photo by J. Harrington

Today, the down jacket insert got added to my Winter coat. The hoses have been disconnected from the outside faucets and the water supply to the front faucet turned off. (We can't find a shut-off for the back faucet.) A tow strap has been added to the Jeep's storage compartment in hopes that it will only be needed to extract others from snow banks. My transition from Autumn to Winter clothing will probably continue to limp along for the next several months, until it's time to reverse the process come Spring. It still seems to be too early for breaking out the flannel-lined jeans. That can, I hope, wait until after Thanksgiving.

All the local ponds are still open water. The extended forecast has daytime temperatures continuing to rise well above freezing. Initial soil-freeze dates for St. Paul range from early November to early January. That's a two month range. We've got a pocket gopher tearing hell out of the backyard this week, so I'm not even going to guess about ice cover forming.

Far South of here, in a normal year, mallard and pintail pairs would start courting in a week or so. Maybe El Nino and La Nina don't affect waterfowl courtship very much, I just don't know. The tundra swans are reported to have recently arrived at the Mississippi bottoms near Brownsville in southeastern MN. Last year they were hanging around our neighborhood into early December.

December, tundra swans
December, tundra swans
Photo by J. Harrington

Despite some recent aberrations, many of us still have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. That suggests we should be sure to be generous to those who have less. Tomorrow is Give to the Max day in Minnesota. Think about who you most want to help and be sure that you don't get caught in any snow storms originating in the vicinity of Washington, D.C.

Falling Leaves and Early Snow


By Kenneth Rexroth


In the years to come they will say, 
“They fell like the leaves
In the autumn of nineteen thirty-nine.”
November has come to the forest,
To the meadows where we picked the cyclamen.
The year fades with the white frost
On the brown sedge in the hazy meadows,
Where the deer tracks were black in the morning.
Ice forms in the shadows;
Disheveled maples hang over the water;
Deep gold sunlight glistens on the shrunken stream.
Somnolent trout move through pillars of brown and gold.
The yellow maple leaves eddy above them,
The glittering leaves of the cottonwood,
The olive, velvety alder leaves,
The scarlet dogwood leaves,
Most poignant of all.
In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.

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