SoCS: snow

It’s been an odd fall/winter season here in upstate New York. We had a lot of snow in the second half of fall and then not much since.

Until yesterday.

We were originally in a 4-7 inch band but overnight got bumped into 6-12 inches. When the snow started, it came down fast, between one and two inches an hour. (Sorry that I can’t do all the centimeter conversions in stream of consciousness, but 1 inch is about 2 and a half centimeters.)

I wanted to shovel during the storm because it can be hard to move deep snow all at once at the end of the storm. I had ambitions to keep the driveway and walk relatively clear.

Well, as it turned out, ambitions, but not enough strength.

The snow was very heavy, the kind that packs really well but is a bear to shovel because it sticks to the shovel, making it difficult to throw onto the snowbank. If ABC were still living here, we would have had fun making snow-children with the sticky, packable snow. They don’t tend to get a lot of snow in London, though. Maybe I should have made a miniature snow family and sent her a photo. When E and T were young, we used to make smaller snow figures instead of Frosty the Snowman size ones. It was easier for little hands – and very cute besides!

Because it has not been a very snowy winter here, we don’t have much snowpack to speak of. That’s not much of a problem here because we tend to get adequate precipitation throughout the year. I know that some places need to depend on the snowpack for water in the spring and summer, though, so I hope those regions are getting plenty of snow.

When I was growing up, my dad, known here at TJCM as Paco, worked for New England Power in the hydro division. They had several reservoirs and hydroelectric stations along the upper Deerfield River. I remember Paco and his crew going up into the woods to measure the snowpack and how much water it was holding so that they could predict how the spring run-off would be. They wanted to be able to fill the reservoirs and control the flow in the river so that it didn’t flood – or, at least, didn’t flood too badly. In those days, with climate change impacts not as pronounced as they are now, they were able to predict things pretty well. Paco has been retired for a long time and doesn’t live in that area anymore, but I’m sure his successors have a more challenging time assessing run-off from their snowpack measures.

Everything is so much more unpredictable nowadays.

In a lot of ways, but that would be another (several) posts…,
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “(un)pack.”  Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/02/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-8-2020/

snow day

There have been a lot of big storms in the United States in recent weeks. Our region hadn’t had too much bad weather – until yesterday and today.

The storm started Sunday morning with an extended period of freezing rain, which made driving inadvisable. Sunday evening, it changed to a heavy, wet snow and it has snowed nearly all day today (Monday). The trees and utility lines are all weighted down with snow. We have lost some limbs from the trees in our yard.

The roads are impossible to keep clear and all the schools, including the University, cancelled classes. Lots of businesses decided to close, as well, for the safety of their employees and customers. Our museum and science center closed. Even our doctors’ office is closed.

B and most of his colleagues are working from home.

As I was contemplating all the closings, I remembered snow days when E and T were young. One of them had learned a song in elementary chorus and we used to sing it sometimes when there are snow days. “There’ll be no school tomorrow, no school tomorrow, no school tomorrow, if it snows.”

And because YouTube exists now, I can search and find recordings! The words and music are by Jay Althouse.

back in Northampton

I shared previously that I would be singing Brahms’ Requiem at Smith this weekend. The plans were all in place – and then the weather forecast took a drastic turn for my planned Friday car trip to get to Northampton. Fortunately, I was able to re-arrange my schedule to travel a day earlier to avoid a long drive in the storm.

This also meant that I had some unexpected free time in Northampton, a welcome bonus. I went to Thorne’s Market when I arrived, buying local maple syrup at Cornucopia and locally made soap at Cedar Chest. I indulged in a chair massage to loosen up my back and shoulders in preparation for a lot of standing, score-holding, and singing over these next two days.

I also visited Herrell’s Ice Cream, which opened around the time I began at Smith, and enjoyed a sampler, because getting a bit of four flavors is so much more fun than a larger serving of just one! They still make malted vanilla, which was always a favorite of mine, so, of course, that made it into my dish.

Next, I walked around campus. My first stop was Helen Hills Hills chapel, where, as an organist, choral singer, and accompanist, I spent many hours in my student days. Sadly, there are no longer regularly scheduled services held there and it still looks strange to me to see chairs instead of the pews. As I climbed the stairs to the gallery, I noticed that the red carpet that had begun to bleach near the stairwell window is now almost entirely golden on those few stairs from the years of sunlight streaming on them.

I sat on the organ bench briefly, touched each of the three manuals, and looked over the once-familiar stop knobs. It’s been so long since I have been able to play that I sometimes have to remind myself that I ever could. I wonder how many organ students there are now; I think, perhaps, there are three, judging from the organ shoes on the rack in the corner of the gallery.

I noticed a few cracks in the panes of glass in the gallery windows and some dust in the corners, which makes me sad.

I went down to the basement to visit the Bodman Lounge, which has not changed very much. I had memories of being there dressing for my wedding, which took place a few weeks after my commencement. I called my mom, who was awake and alert. My sister had arrived safely and will be there for the weekend while I am gone.

Next, I went to Wright Hall to visit the Poetry Center, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. There is a case with poetry books written by alumnae. I made a point to find the books by Anne Harding Woodworth, whom I met through the Alumnae Chorus. She will be returning to campus to sing Brahms and I’m looking forward to seeing her.

Central campus is sort of a pit right now – literally. The main library is being mostly demolished and the foundation being constructed for the new building. There is a large area cut off by construction fencing with some lookout posts carved out to view the progress.

Some of the bulbs on the hillside between Chapin House and Wright Hall are already starting to come up.

There are some fantastic large rocks on display near the science center. I want there to be signs near them as there are with the trees and plantings, telling what they are and where they came from.

I wandered around in Sage Hall, which is the music building. There have been extensive renovations since I was there, including in the concert hall. I found the office of a professor who taught me music history by the Berlioz postings near his door. I actually got to see one of the soon-to-retire members of the voice faculty who started teaching at Smith the first year I was a student. My roommate studied with her and they still keep in touch.

I walked up the hill by Paradise Pond and through the relatively newly opened President’s garden on the way back to my car.

A friend from Smith who lives in the area graciously offered to house me for the weekend – and even more graciously offered to accommodate my arrival a day early. She made a lovely risotto for supper and we had some time to chat and catch up.

The storm blew in here overnight, mostly rain, but with a bit of snow mixed in, and very windy. I hope everyone will be able to get here in time for our first rehearsal at 4:00.

I’m very grateful to be tucked in here at my friend’s home, cozy and warm, rather than trying to drive in the snow and wind to the west.

Next on the agenda, some time seated at her piano, spot checking a few places in the Requiem before rehearsal…

 

Binghamton Poetry Project – Spring 2017

March was very hectic, but I did manage to attend four of five sessions for the Binghamton Poetry Project. Our reading took place on April first, but I missed it as it was the same afternoon as our University Chorus concert.

I haven’t had a chance to collect my anthology yet, but these three poems are my contribution. The first two were written from prompts during our sessions and the last one I wrote in response to the tongue-in-cheek suggestion of one of the Grapevine Group poets that we each write a snow poem after our big storm.

Enjoy! (And comment if you are so moved…)

Pneumonia

Her breaths are fast and shallow
between coughs.
I untie her sneakers,
work them off,
pull off her socks,
help her out of her shirt and pants,
slip her nightgown on.

She sits on the edge
of the bed,
pivots to lie down,
but needs me to lift
her feet.
I pull up the covers,
close the door,
and wait for the X-ray results.

*****

Two Hearts

Her cardiac rehab is Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

He rides with her in the retirement home van,
helps her navigate into the lift with her walker,
sits with her in the waiting room
until she is called into therapy
where he is not allowed to follow.

He waits.

Her exercises accomplished,
they board the van for the ride
back home to their apartment
where lunch awaits.

After sixty-two years of marriage,
he does not want her to go
alone.

*****

Nor’easter Numbers

The forecast was for an inch overnight
with Five to Eight to follow;
then, One to Three
with Six to Nine.

I rose before the daylight-saving
delayed dawn to find
a foot of snow already down,
consequence of a more westerly
track
plus
a stall.

My strategy,
born of long-ago New England winters,
to clear the overnight
accumulation from the driveway,
then shovel
every few inches,
add in the front walk
and path to the mailbox
as strength allows.

A good plan,
but overly ambitious
for a Five foot One-and-a-half inch
Fifty-six-year-old
alone
with a shovel
contending with the wake
of snowplows
and snow falling at Two
or Three
or Four
inches
an hour,
Twenty-seven inches
by Five o’clock
and still snowing.

Seven bouts of shoveling,
Twelve thousand, ninety-one Fitbit steps,
and Two blessed assists
from the neighbors’ snowblower
yield a driveway cleared to a road
under a county-wide travel ban,
a path to a mailbox that may
be filled with today’s mail
tomorrow,

weather permitting.

One-Liner Wednesday: record snow

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What our backyard shed looks like when the wind picks up after over thirty inches (0.8 meters) of snow yesterday.
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/03/15/one-liner-wednesday-not-meant-to-be/

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A few more snow photos

A few photos from shoveling part six, following up from my post with photos from earlier in the day:

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House with snow banks at about 5 PM
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I am really worried about the snow sliding off the garage roof and blocking the overhead door…
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At 5 PM, I measured 27 inches (2/3 meter) of snow in the front yard.

The snow is supposed to continue until at least midnight and the wind has started to pick up. I am about to go out for shoveling session seven. We are all hoping that we don’t get heavy winds. Big snowstorm is preferable to blizzard.

burying the lead (in snow)

Yesterday, when we were standing in the cold outside Claudia Tenney’s office, the cold seemed a curse, but it was a (bit of a) blessing in disguise.

Today, here in the Binghamton (NY) area, we are experiencing a nor’easter, which is a storm that comes up the Atlantic coast and whose rotation results in winds from the northeast.  This is the strongest we have had in many years, perhaps because it was strengthened by a second low pressure system coming from the west.

The tricky thing about forecasting nor’easters is that the exact track of the storm makes a huge difference in the snowfall amount. The prediction had been that we were going to get one to three inches starting about midnight, with an additional eight to ten during the day.

I set my alarm to get up in the pre-dawn darkness – insert grumbling about Daylight Saving Time here – to shovel the driveway to get to an morning appointment. I looked out the front door to find not one to three inches, but a foot (about a third of a meter) already on the ground with heavy snow continuing, sometimes at a rate of two to three inches an hour.

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Our house mid-morning

Apparently, the storm had tracked further west than anticipated – and then stalled. Fortunately, the cold from the day before was holding, though, so while we are getting A LOT of snow, it is light and fluffy, not the heavy, wet snow that mixes with sleet and freezing rain and causes power outages.

Still, it is daunting to shovel so much of it…

I worked for an hour and didn’t even have one lane of the driveway clear when I cam in to rest.

The appointment with E’s obstetrician’s office was cancelled because the office was closed, along with just about everything else in the county. The governor instituted a travel ban and is calling out the National Guard to help in the storm cleanup. We may get as much as thirty inches of snow , which I can believe, given that we have almost two feet on the ground as I write this in mid-afternoon.

(Just in case you had forgotten about E’s pregnancy – I had forgotten myself that I had written about it – you can read some of the backstory here.)

I’ve spent the day alternating shoveling time with rest and recovery time. I am very grateful that, during shoveling round four, our next-door neighbors came to help with their snowblower. Ordinarily, B uses our big Ariens snowblower that my dad gave us when he no longer needed it to clear snow for us and the neighbors, but B is away on business, the Ariens is currently in need of repair, and I am not strong enough to use it. They were able to clear the second pass of snowplow pile blocking the end of the driveway and make an initial path to the front stairs and mailbox, although there isn’t going to be any mail delivery today. Sometimes, the “neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night” bit doesn’t hold.

I need to get out there for round six now. I am trying to keep the driveway and path clear enough that we could get out in case of emergency. It is getting harder because the snow banks are getting higher than my head, so it is hard to throw the snow over them. I have left myself a little extra space for the driveway, in case of bank mini-avalanche, but I am dreading when the snow slides off the metal garage roof and lands in a giant pile in the driveway. Maybe it will wait until tomorrow, or Thursday, or even better, Friday, when B will return home.

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Backyard with ridiculously buried bird feeders

 

 

 

SoCS: coat

A lot of places in the US are under a coat of white from snow.

Not exactly a surprise in January, except that, while there is snow in places one expects, like Colorado, the Dakotas, and Vermont, but also in some places where it is more unusual, such as Alabama and the Carolinas. Seattle, Washington has also recently had snow.

Weirdly, we don’t have much here in the Binghamton, New York area.  While some parts of the state have had massive lake effect snows, the wind pattern is preventing them from reaching us here. The storm systems are coming up the coast and we are too far inland to get major amounts of snow from them.

Also weirdly, the cold and snow dipping into the Southern US are caused by the warming of the Arctic region.  This pushes the polar vortex south.

This weekend, we are having some of our coldest temperatures of the winter. I am pulling out the heavy coats.

Postscript: You can tell this is stream of consciousness because I misused a correlative conjunction and couldn’t go back and fix it.
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It’s a double dip! This post is both part of Linda’s Just Jot It January and Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt is “coat.” Join us! Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/06/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-and-jusjojan-jan-717/

 

Cross-country

We are in Dulles airport (Washington DC) waiting for our connection to San Francisco. We will be flying over the storm system that has caused so many tornadoes and so much death and destruction with the unfortunate expectation that there will be more to come as it slowly moves eastward. Sending out thoughts and prayers on behalf of all those who have been affected and those who are in the path of this storm system.