Casaubon's Book

Snow Envy

So for those of you getting ready for Snowpocalypse, as the mid-Atlantic faces, gasp – a whole foot of snow, I have to tell you something. I’m jealous. I mean really, really jealous. I want your snow.

A general pattern of winter storms in my area (upstate NY) is that they come down from Canada and across the Great Lakes. We are at the very eastern edge of the snow belt in New York, and we don’t usually get the giant lake-effect snows that Buffalo and other areas get, but we can generally expect to spend the winter with a solid several feet on the ground. But not this year.

Somehow, all the snow has been coming up from the south and across the Northeast. With the exception of one wimpy 6 inch snowfall in December, we’ve had almost nothing – an inch here, two inches there, but basically, jack. This is bad for a couple of reasons. First of all, I like snow. I live in a cold climate and I like to cross country ski, I like to sled and I like to be out in the snow. We haven’t built a single snowman this year, and my kids have only been sledding a couple of dozen times. What’s the point of winter without snow?

Second, we’ve had extremely cold temperatures and drying winds – snow is a wonderful insulator, holding ground temps and low growing plants at right around freezing, even when outside temperatures drop to -10 or -20 or occasionally -30F around here. No snow means my garden perennials bear the entire burden of the cold, and I will probably lose some of the tenderer plants.

Finally, my landscape is a hell of a lot prettier with snow on it. I love the way the fields and forests look here, but around March, when things melt off, we have a period of mud, grey and beige before it finally greens up. A couple of weeks of this is a bit disheartening but probably inevitable. Two or three months of bare grey ground sucks. We’ve got enough snow at the moment to cover things up after the big, wet meltoff a couple of weeks ago, but hey.

So today, while you folks in the mid-Atlantic are drinking your bottled water and eating your stored food and looking fearfully at the accumulation indexes, I’m jealous as heck. It would be the perfect day for a blizzard here – the boys are all sick to various degrees and Eric is home with a lingering sinus infection. We have nowhere to go and wouldn’t pester people with our diseases if we did. As long as I get to be shut up in the house with my sick family, I want my snow, cocoa by the fire and the Currier and Ives view.

So you as the entire East-Center of the country shuts down, you can consider a move out of wintery Virginia or Maryland to sunny, snowless upstate New York, the new Florida (just give AGW a little time). And console yourself with the fact that you’ve made me jealous.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Christina
    February 5, 2010

    The snow is here! Check out the pictures on my blog (in Swedish, sorry)

    http://elins-tradgard.blogspot.com/2010/01/djupfryst.html

    Christina in Sweden

  2. #2 Jen
    February 5, 2010

    I can totally relate. I SHOULD be used to snow “maybe” once a year here in upstate SC, but I still hate it. If we were 45 minute north we would get the BRM snow-they got 8 inches last week. I grew up in northern In still a zone 5 and I long for a blizzard. Right now it’s just cold and raining:(

  3. #3 NormalMiddle
    February 5, 2010

    Living in central NC we hardly get much snow. A dusting here or there shuts the town down for days. We got 7-8 inches last weekend and then woke up this morning to more snow/sleet/ice…

    Everyone here is ready for it to GO AWAY. :)

    But I must say a REAL blizzard, just once, might be a lot of fun.

  4. #4 Katherine
    February 5, 2010

    I’m jealous of even your little bit of snow. We get an awful lot of cold, rainy weather – like today its 38 and steady rain. YUCK.

  5. #5 Andrew C
    February 5, 2010

    We’re craving snow here in Idaho too. The most recent Water Supply Outlook was released today, and we’re only at 60-80% of normal. If we get below average snowfall for the rest of the season, we’ll probably have water shortages.

    Bad news for our farmers, but more importantly, the rivers will be lower for kayaking season. :(

  6. #6 Gail
    February 5, 2010

    Sharon, I would be happy to send this snow to you! Here in Central VA, we rarely get big snows; this will be the third one since late December!

    Out in the garden, a little over a hundred feet from the house, our raised beds covered with plastic are now buried with the second deep layer in the past week. It is obvious to me that we need to make a hoop covered bed way closer to the house for our winter beds.

    It is indeed beautiful; I’m snapping picture after picture and sending resized versions to my husband who is out of town. (For both of these storms!) I enjoy my own company, but I will have to admit that I am starting to feel a little lonely and a little cabin-feverish. I re-dug the paths to the nearest bird feeders this morning and loaded them up for our feathered friends, but the paths have filled in yet again.

    I can’t help but wonder if this severe winter here and your sparse precipitation up there are an indication of climate change in action. It makes me think that we may just have to become better observers of our local conditions, relying less on the “usual” patterns.

    I loved your garden calendar posting…gonna get back to ours later today.

    As I sip my hot chocolate, I will raise my mug in a toast to you, dear lady. I truly love your blog(s) and book (I don’t have them all yet). Keep up the wonderful work you do; we need deeply compassionate AND smart people to inspire us to make the changes we can and, like Anne Frank, try to remember that even in scary and horrible times, most people are decent and good.

    Peace

  7. #7 Susan in NJ
    February 5, 2010

    No snow here yet . . . but I’m looking forward to waking up tomorrow to a whole lot. It’s been a great winter for relocated midwesterners here in southern NJ.

  8. #8 Natalie
    February 5, 2010

    I’m along Lake Erie in PA and I share your snow envy. Who wants to look at brown grass all winter – give me some lovely snow so it looks pretty and we can get out and do something in it.

  9. #9 Mary
    February 5, 2010

    Dear Sharon, y’all can have our snow! We in the southeast corner of Virgnia have a handful of snowplows, 12 to 18 foot Turlock ditches on the sides of the roads (drainage) and snow shovels and snow tires are as rare as hen’s teeth. I’m usually getting ready to plant for Spring, but the garden is covered in this wet, nasty, white ick!

  10. #10 Eric Lund
    February 5, 2010

    Yes, please send some of that snow up my way (New Hampshire).

    In between snowfalls, the sun will typically melt a little bit of snow during the day, and that water flows onto the sidewalk, where it freezes overnight. Several days of this can make sidewalks virtually impassible. And the town doesn’t treat the sidewalks when there is no new snow. A few days ago we got maybe half an inch (not enough to be worth shoveling from driveways) from a passing cold front, and it was a godsend for walkers like me–it was just enough that the town had to treat the sidewalks, which got rid of the ice that had been sitting on the sidewalk since the big rain event of early last week. (Please understand: I live close enough to work that walking is preferable to dealing with the hassle of parking a car significantly closer to my office than my driveway, so I don’t even bother with a parking permit.) I don’t mind snow; it’s the ice I can do without.

    As with Sharon’s location, we’ve been getting little or nothing out of these systems that have been dumping on DC. We got maybe an inch out of the December event, nothing out of the last one, and the forecast for this one is partly cloudy skies.

  11. #11 curiousalexa
    February 5, 2010

    I was discussing this with someone the other day – I’m in Western Maine, where we have only a few inches of snow left after the pouring rains a couple weeks ago. I share your opinion – if it’s cold, there should be snow to play in!

    I have been assured that we will get more snow in March. I’m skeptical…

  12. #12 Karen
    February 5, 2010

    I’m on the north shore of Lake Erie in Ontario and we have had no snow!!! It’s awful. I started homeschooling my 2 boys this year (8 & 5) and it has been great but we are all starting to feel a little housebound. We try and get out for walks in the afternoon but who wants to play outside in January when there is no snow? The new snow racers my kids got for Christmas are just sitting there, haven’t been used yet.

  13. #13 D. C. Sessions
    February 5, 2010

    Mid-Atlantic? How about the “desert” southwest?
    Here’s Arizona: http://www.wmicentral.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20404720&BRD=2264&PAG=461&dept_id=505965&rfi=6
    Check the “gallery:” a lot of those photos were taken by people I work with.

    Anyway, Spring is on the way. We’re back to drying tomatoes and the first peppers are ripening. We’ll have to wait till next year to try some of the beans you recommended.

  14. #14 Claire
    February 5, 2010

    I put up with months of grey-brown landscape every winter. Here in MO we get occasional snows that almost always melt off well before the next one arrives. Grey-brown is the predominant color here from November through March. And talk about lack of insulation for plants; we know all about it, it happens every single year. So what you have now is what we have all the time. I’d still rather be here, though. Those 70F days in the winter are fun while they last (haven’t had any this winter, though).

    Today we had the cold rain in the morning. It’s snowing now but we won’t get more than 3″ total. Typical.

  15. #15 Rod Dreher
    February 5, 2010

    Oooh, Sharon, I’m sitting here in Philadelphia finishing my second bowl of shrimp etouffee, which I cooked up this afternoon, sipping a cold IPA and waiting for HELLSTORM 2010 to strike. Please hurry up, Hellstorm! We’re ready for you, and besides, my Texas-born children have never seen meaningful snow, and are ready to throw snowballs at each other.

  16. #16 Don
    February 5, 2010

    We have about four or five inches with six or more coming tonight. This is central Ohio. I love it: our neighborhood becomes so quiet when the cars aren’t speeding down the street behind us.

  17. #17 Zuska
    February 5, 2010

    So for those of you getting ready for Snowpocalypse, as the mid-Atlantic faces, gasp – a whole foot of snow, I have to tell you something. I’m jealous.

    Well, get your ass down to DC, then. They are expecting 2.5 feet of wet snow, possibly, with high winds and consequent power outages. And DC isn’t generally prepared to deal with snow the way more northern climes are. So, ha ha ha, “gasp – a whole foot of snow”. Oh, those silly mid-Atlantic folks and their crazy snow anxieties.

  18. #18 Greenpa
    February 5, 2010

    neener neener neener. :-)

    We’ve got an honest foot of dense snow with a crust; topped off with 4″ of powder. Lousy skiing, but fabulous sledding. So far, looks like it’s gonna stay around a good long while.

  19. #19 Karen
    February 5, 2010

    And don’t forget that snow is the poor man’s fertilizer. That white stuff is a good nitrogen source.

  20. #20 kathy harrison
    February 6, 2010

    I am worried sick about the bees. The cold, dry wind is very hard on them. No snow means the water table will be low and that means hauling water for the gardens and orchard. It also means the kids are inside ALL THE TIME. We have this 1/2 inch thick sheet of ice outside and getting to the compost pile is a chore only accomplished with help of Yax Trax and a ski pole.

  21. #21 janine
    February 6, 2010

    In Minnesota we are back to enjoying a “typical” winter. Good snow cover and cold weather. Our winters for several years have been as many readers describe their weather this year and it is with relief that we welcome back the snow! Tomorrow we begin a winter weather watch which means more snow and cold.

  22. #22 Megan
    February 6, 2010

    I grew up in Syracuse, I remember in 1992 when my 6’6″ father put his arm straight up at the end of our driveway and the piles of snow from the road plow were higher (over 8 feet). But now I live in Baltimore, we have over 2 feet of heavy, wet snow and ice and there are widespread power outages. It isn’t anything to joke about, as few people down here (including my family) have any way to heat their homes without power and work crews can’t get through to fix the lines. A cozy farm with woodstove in upstate NY sounds nice, plenty of people living in this city already live in third world conditions and now are in danger because of this storm.

  23. #23 Sharon Astyk
    February 6, 2010

    Megan, Zuska, that’s true and fair enough. At the time I wrote this, a couple of days ago, the predictions I saw for the DC area were about a foot, and far less dramatic. My apologies.

    Sharon

  24. #24 Janet
    February 6, 2010

    I’m so glad I’ve been reading about preparing for emergencies and disruptions to food supply on your website for several years. I now live south of Baltimore, and with over two feet of snow on the ground (and still coming) and no plows coming any time soon, we are socked in with plenty of food, water, blankets, and books. Fortunately for us, we still have power for now. We live in an uninsulated house with no way to heat without electricity. It’a a temporary rental for us, until June when we head back to the Tahoe area. We are used to Northern Nevada/ Lake Tahoe ski winters with 24 hour plowing, a very well insulated house and a huge stack of firewood. So, although I laughed off “Snowcopalypse” at first, I now realize that without that transportation and electric infrastructure, we could really be hurting now if we weren’t as well prepared as we are, and if our power goes out.
    Thanks to our routine preparations I don’t have major worries, just checked on my food and blanket supplies, and made sure I located the flashlights.
    It’s pretty though – have to break out the cross coutry skis before they plow the road.

  25. #25 Chuck
    February 6, 2010

    I’m in Loudoun County, VA. northwest of DC. We have had more than enough snow.
    Dec 19, 22″, Jan 30, 6+”, Feb 2, 6+” & Feb 4-5 30″.
    There is another storm on its way for Tuesday.
    More fun than I can handle. I have a tractor w/ plow and bucket so I don’t do much shoveling. Got a questionable heart as well. Just too much fun.

  26. #26 annette
    February 7, 2010

    Meanwhile here in the Pacific Northwest, winter has been unusually warm. Most days in the 50’s, nights down into the 40’s, no frost since December. Snowdrops, crocusses and even some hyacinths have been blooming for weeks already – many of the cherry trees are in bloom. today the temps were in the high 50’s and I and many of my neighbors were out gardening – I planted peas over a week ago, and planted more yesterday. Even for here (Seattle area), that’s phenomenally early. We’re enjoying it , yes, but we all feel a lot of anxiety too – global warming is very visible here this year.

  27. #27 Greenpa
    February 7, 2010

    annette- I’ll stick my neck out a tad, since this is a relatively safe place to do so- this huge snowstorm on the East coast is very very probably a result of global warming.

    Way more moisture in the air than usual- yup. Change in storm patterns- yup. Both predicted by the very earliest models; and all those to follow.

    Of course, if you SAY that out loud in the MSM with the current political, uh, climate- you’ll just get big laughs from the Tea Peeps; and any fence-sitters in the audience will be much more likely to be swayed in the wrong direction by the fact it’s – snow.

    Global warming also will cause earthquakes- but that’s not mentioned any more either, since it was laughed off when it was first brought up, years ago. (Greenland, and Antarctica, are islands of granitic rocks floating on basalts- mostly. If you remove many thousands of cubic MILES of ice from on top of them- they will float higher; changing the strains on all the connected faults- and they’re all connected, ultimately).

    Chuck- yeah, my sympathies. It does stop being just fun at some point.

  28. #28 Greenpa
    February 7, 2010

    Oh, joy. 2 minutes after posting those comments, I run into this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/us/07mudslide.html

    Huge “nobody expected this much rain” storms; moving in non-typical ways, in California, too.

  29. #29 Claire
    February 7, 2010

    So far this year St. Louis has missed all the big snows – got ‘em south and west of here, but not here. Looks like ours is on the way for Monday. Winter storm watch up, maybe as much as 6-7″ of snow on the way. Not exactly Snowpocalypse, but enough to snarl things up pretty good. Most winters that’s the max we get in any one snowstorm.

  30. #30 annette
    February 7, 2010

    Greenpa – I agree with you totally. If my comment implied that freakish snowstorms are not connected to global warming, that was just poor communication on my part. I guess what I was getting at was that the “warming” part of global warming is very visible here this year. I know that global warming (I think that’s an unfortunate choice of name – if it had been called “global climate chaos, maybe some people would understand it a little better – and climate chaos is surely what we human beings have caused) is likely to cause an increase in the frequency, severity and range of all kinds of storms.

  31. #31 Greenpa
    February 7, 2010

    Annette-no no, I didn’t get even a whiff of denial- just a step BEYOND the old “here’s evidence” stage. :-) Nothing wrong with your communication.

    I’ve ranted about the stupidity of allowing to be called “warming” for decades; at international global warming conferences. :-) I prefer “climate collapse”, myself. More alliteration, always useful in getting stuff to stick in our primitive brain.

  32. #32 JohnV
    February 7, 2010

    You can have my snow. Over 2 feet, no power for 28 hours, my apartment went from 68 to 47 and come to find out the only thing that hated the temperature in my apartment worse than is my formerly living fish.

  33. #33 Sharon Astyk
    February 8, 2010

    Hi John – So sorry about your fish! Seriously, that sucks. I should just remind people that even up here in the Northeast, we have power outages with heavy snowfall, and times when the plows can’t get through! I have a woodstove in a farmhouse now (which is a necessity given that we lose power a dozen times a winter) but I had an apartment in Somerville or Allston for about a decade, and it gets bloody cold there without the heat. I can definitely sympathize – and this is why preparedness is for everyone.

    Sharon

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