THE AMAZING CHANGING SEASONS: APRIL 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: April 2018

Speaking of changing, what a month! For that matter, what a couple of months this has been. Crazy weather.

The Nice Weather Gallery

Not that crazy isn’t an inherent part of our New England weather. The northeastern piece of this continent has weather that is utterly unpredictable, especially as winter tries to turn into spring and generally fails.

Good morning little red finch!

Typically, we get winter. Then we get the end of winter which is like winter with occasional warmer days sandwiched between cold ones.

The Not Nice Weather Gallery

I suppose what has made this “spring” particularly difficult has been the cold. By this time of year, I’m usually turning down the heat, opening the windows. Cleaning out the garden. Getting excited about daffodils and glorying in the yellowness of forsythia.

As of right now, we have no flowers. We have had crocuses and they were lovely and we have a lot of growth — the beginning of what I fondly believe will be flowers in a couple of weeks. Maybe even less. But as of right now? It’s the end of the winter. Freezing temperatures at night, warming into the high forties or low fifties in the middle of the day.

Snow along the road

And then there were the super storms. We are not on the seashore, so we didn’t get the kind of battering people living closer to the ocean have gotten. During the past ten years, we’ve gotten giant storms, often stretching from coast-to-coast or taking up most of the Atlantic Ocean.

The scientists dealing with climate change believe these super storms are prime indicators of climate change.  It’s not that we don’t get strange weather in New England, but rarely do we get three super storms with hurricane-level winds in less than two weeks. With snow and rain and sleet and flooding.

Almost daffodils

It’s sort of like the weather we have always gotten multiplied by a factor of five. Very intense weather packed tightly together.

We will have spring and in many places, today was the day it seemed to show up. It was love here today. Blue skies, moderate weather and the song of the Carolina wren can be heard all around the property.

Christmas cactus ready to bloom again

Tomorrow, there will be rain and wind — but after that, I think we will have a few days of spring and then it will be summer. I’m hoping I can get down to clean up the garden before the flowers open. It’s really hard to rake when the day lilies are blooming and the roses are rampant in the garden.

ABOUT “CLIMATE CHANGE,” WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? Marilyn Armstrong

Sunday is Earth Day. I remember the first Earth Day and every Earth Day since. Earth has changed and I’m pretty sure we’re the ones who have changed it.

Pogo – Walt Kelly

This isn’t a trick . It’s a genuine question based on a few premises with which you have to agree before we can begin:

1 – Climate change is real, based on science and facts. It isn’t a glitch in nature and if we ignore it, it won’t go away.

2 – We used to call it “global warming” – but obviously there’s quite a bit more to it.

3 – You are sure it is going to affect you … but exactly how?

4 – You are not a conspiracy theorist. You do not believe that climate change comes from an angry God or some weird technology.

5 – You’d like to know what you should be doing about climate change — and you are pretty sure that recycling bottles is probably not the ultimate answer.

Jan 9, 2018 – Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California, U.S. – KERRY MANN navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed the home of her friend in Montecito. The woman who lives in the home has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday. At least 15 people died and thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month. (Newscom TagID: zumaamericasnineteen760940.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

These are questions for which I don’t have an answer. I have always believed that we were doing serious damage to the earth, even before it was officially proven. I thought it was pretty obvious. We still have pollution resulting from things we did in European river valleys a thousand years ago and these days, we simply make it worse. Even when we are trying to make it better.

The thing is, I know I had no idea what all of this meant on a personal level. I understood about rising sea levels. I got that part of the equation. I understood the increasing and probably endless loss of species — such as all of our large land mammals and probably all or most of our carnivores.

There will be no wolves, no tigers, lions, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffe. Whales will be gone. Slowly but surely because we are polluting the oceans and I don’t know if there is a way back from the mess we have made.

British storm – Ophelia 2018

The air will become more polluted and we will never figure out what to do with our radioactive wastes. We haven’t even figured out what to do with the filthy, polluted soil in this valley or for that matter, the Rhine valley or along the Yangtze or Ganges.

Off the coast of Massachusetts

Storms will be bigger, encompassing the size of entire oceans eventually. Right now, we have storms in North America so big they go literally from coast to coast. Super storms. Super tornadoes. We will have droughts and floods in sequence. Fires and mud slides in between and let’s not forget the occasional earthquake, just for fun.

It rained 30 inches in Hawaii over the past 24 hours and another monster storm is on the way. The concept of “monster storms” never crossed my mind.

Slowly rising sea water is pretty much what I saw in my head. I never imagined it would all be happening at the same time — and so fast. I thought it would take a lot longer for the water to rise. That the oceans would slowly edge up over the coasts. The rivers would rise and  we’d have flooding.

Snow? Maybe we’d have less with rising temperatures … but I didn’t think we’d have storm after storm with warm weather in between so it would fall, then melt, then fall again, and melt again. I didn’t expect the bizarre alterations of seasons, either.

What did you imagine would happen? Did  you imagine the mudslides in California? Or the fires? Or the floods in Puerto Rico and Texas? And now in Kauai?

Did we realize that the melting glaciers would mean that inland nations like Switzerland would have no viable water sources?

What did we think was going to happen? What do we think is going to happen next year and the year after? It won’t be nothing, that’s for sure. Something will happen and we will be in the middle of it. In the end, there will be few places left to hide.

Atlantic nor’easter

 I don’t think my imagination moved me much past a flooded basement. I never considered we might have an entirely flooded valley … or maybe a state under water. Or even finding myself turning up the thermostat in the middle of April.

Since the season is almost here, I implore you to not kill your early blooming dandelions. This is the food the bees need to keep alive until the rest of the flowers and plants bloom. Remember the bees because without them, we are dead, so skip that lovely Scott’s  lawn for now. Let’s try and preserve life on earth rather than the nicest lawn in the suburbs.

Bee in the dandelions

A FRIGID DAY FOR THE SEASON OPENER?

COLD. NOT FRIGID. IT IS SPRING IN NEW ENGLAND.

It has been a cold spring. This is not, despite all the complaining, particularly unusual. Spring weather in New England is notoriously unstable and it’s not unusual for the weather to also be surprisingly cold. We’ve had a few very warm springs too.

It will stay cold and cold and cold and we’ll get a little snow here and there — which will melt off almost immediately — and then, suddenly, in about three weeks, it will turn into a perfect spring.

Perfect spring will last about 4 hours, after which, it’s time to install your air conditioners because suddenly, it’s summer.

It’s like this most years, except when it’s exactly the opposite. Spring weather is erratic. Why is everyone making such a fuss about it? I too would like to see some lovely spring flowers but spring isn’t a real “season” in this region. Mostly, it’s a few hours between winter and summer.

Fellow New Englanders! Give us a break! It would have been nice to have the baseball spring opening day a little less chilly, but it is what it is.

Get used to it already. Sheesh!

WHAT IS THAT SOUND IN THE BASEMENT?

We were watching “Father Brown” on Netflix and in the back of my head, I was hearing a grinding sort of sound. I could not identify it, but it was coming from the basement. I could barely hear it … but it was there. It isn’t the sound our boiler makes and it didn’t sound like the dehumidifier.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Odd sounds in the house always get me investigating. I can’t ignore them. 

So I went downstairs to look around. Aside from realizing that we really are overrun by mice, the sound had stopped. I shrugged and went upstairs, pondering how the mice — which we used to have under control — went so crazy. I think it’s because no one lives downstairs now, so they’ve the run of the place. They are living here, but as far as food goes, they are “ordering out.”

Woods in winter – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Snow starting in early winter

Our Pest Control guy assured us they aren’t eating our food because you can follow the trail of acorns from the trees. Our oak trees could feed a world of squirrels. It turns out, they are already feeding a world of mice.

Living in the woods is wonderful and romantic. It’s also messy and invites many uninvited guests to drop by and stay awhile.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Today, we took Gibbs to the vet. It was his annual visit. He needed to be tested for heart worm, though I know he doesn’t have it. As we were driving home, I noticed all the little streams looked more like real rivers. Everything has overrun its banks.

The Mumford and Blackstone Rivers are full and the dams wide open. Even the usually shallow Whitins Pond is deep and wider than usual.

Manchaug Dam

That was when I realized what that sound was, the one I heard last night. It was a sound I had nearly forgotten because it has been years since I heard it.

It was the sump pump, pushing the water out of the sump under the house.

Flooding!

If we didn’t have a sump, a pump, and French drains, we would be up to our kneecaps in water downstairs. For the first time in more than a dozen years, we are facing the likelihood of flooding in the valley.

We are pretty well prepared for it because when we first moved here, we had some serious flooding issues. Before we even fixed the roof or put up siding, we were adding French drains across the entire front of the house, down the driveway and through the backyard into the woods. The sump and pump came about two years later and we haven’t had any flooding since.

Of course, if the water gets bad enough, nothing will stop it, but we don’t live on the edge of a river — though many people around here live very close to the river. We have a lot of rivers and tributaries and streams and ponds.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We are a major water source for all of Massachusetts as well as parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is the reason I get so worried when we go through long periods of drought or semi-drought. It isn’t just “our” well. We are all linked to the same underground waterways and rivers. The water belongs to everyone.

WHICH WAY TO CHESTNUT HILL?

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: WAY


From Paula:

In all the years of challenges I have never given you the theme WAY, so I thought it was about time I included it in Thursday’s Special photo challenge. No other special reason than that. I will check the entries next Wednesday so take your time posting and let’s hope you will find the right way 😉


If you are talking to Garry and I, it’s not a random question. We are permanently lost. Whether we are on the way to Boston, or on the way to another town in the valley … we are lost, oh lost.

On the Mass Pike …

While we were getting lost, I took pictures. We can get almost anywhere. The problem isn’t getting almost there. It’s getting exactly there, to the specific building and department.

jupiter najnajnoviji

I’D RATHER BE IN HOBBITON, BUT I’D SETTLE FOR SAN DIEGO

I’D RATHER BE ANYWHERE IT DOES NOT SNOW

I LOVE THE SOUND OF SNOW PLOWS


We finished watching the third 4-1/2 hour piece of “The Lord of the Rings,” extended version last night. Given the weather, I pointed out that we could be trying to climb Caradhras, but Sauron was totally against it and we never made it.

For a variety of reasons — aching muscles maybe? — Garry didn’t find it nearly as hilarious as I did, but the man who shovels is allowed to get grumpy about it. Still, we were definitely atop Caradhras and the snow was not going to quit anytime soon.

There was no noise at all until we heard that wonderful sound, the sound for which I yearn all through the storms of the last two weeks: a plow clearing our driveway. There was an awful lot of snow out there, but the dogs, who go into a medium-level frenzy when trucks are in our drive, gave us a lot of energy. Gibbs is particularly noisy about two things: any kind of diesel-powered vehicle and my son, Owen, of whom he is insanely fond.

Duke and Bonnie in snow

Duke barks hysterically whenever the neighbors emerge from their house. He seems to believe they are about to intrude on our space. Also, they have dogs. Very big dogs. Really, huge dogs. English Mastiff and a boxer. They are really quiet, peaceful creatures who bother no one — except The Duke who gets extremely feisty in the face of Other Dogs Nearby. And they aren’t that near. It’s at least 300 feet from here. More, maybe. We have what is considered a really tiny plot of 2.43 acres of land. Next door, they have maybe 27 acres? Possibly more?

It doesn’t look real. I’m not even sure what bush that is. Rhododendron maybe?

A lot of people around here have a huge amount of land, but the majority of it is wild, thorny, rocky, and generally uninviting to walkers. No trails, either. So mostly, no one on two legs goes in there. No one goes there in the summer because you will be consumed by mosquitoes.

Many other creatures live there, though. Deer, raccoon, fishers, skunk, coyote, bobcats, squirrels, rabbits, bats, eagles and other raptors. Red-tailed hawks and owls. I almost never see them, but I hear woodpeckers constantly.

Foxes, chipmunks. Many fewer chipmunks since the arrival of the bobcat who is very fond of fresh chipmunk. Rats, mice, and some of the biggest spiders to make landfall since Shelob didn’t kill Frodo.

I yearn for New Zealand. If the world should bestow many dollars (or any other currency — I’m not picky) on us, that is the single vacation I would take. Fly to the west coast. Take a ship down the Pacific Ocean and land in some famed harbor. I know that’s the long way, but a cruise to New Zealand and a cruise back sounds like heaven to me.

We might never leave Hobbiton. Well, I suppose we’d have to. There are dogs and family and friends back here … but these days, not living in the U.S. doesn’t seem like such an awful idea. I’ve lived abroad before and I liked it, so it’s not that crazy, for me anyway.

Bonnie and Duke like snow. Gibbs was serious about the sofa.

If New Zealand is impossible, how about San Diego? Great weather. Beautiful beaches. One 5-hour flight and voilà. No more snow. Ever. Or we could go back to Israel. I’ve got a passport. As a citizen, I have — in theory — another home. But that may be my other country. It isn’t Garry’s and while he has nothing against a Jewish country — he’s put up with me for long enough — it might be more change than he is entirely ready for.

So in answer to two questions of the day — where would I rather be and what about noise? I’d like my dogs to shut up, but please, bring the snow plow. Then, send me to New Zealand.

CEE’S DIRECTIONAL CHALLENGE TO THE DIRECTIONALLY CHALLENGED

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – March 9, 2018


Emergency!

I am directionally challenged and never know which way I’m supposed to be going. There’s a certain futility to my progress through the roads of the world. I can read a map — fortunately — but most maps don’t show small, local roads, so once I’m off the main highway, I’m lost again.

I think it was Beacon Street, but I could be wrong.
Highways — the only way I am sure we’ll get at least partway there.

It doesn’t stop us from traveling, but it does make us stop and worry. It used to be that the GPS would always get us there … but that was before they started sending us through dirt roads in woods, back roads leading to collapsed bridges or that other road in Boston that has the same name but isn’t where the hospital is located.

Paths by the canal — I don’t get lost here!

Or to the wrong building of the same hospital. And as often as not, down a one-way street, the wrong way.

In the tunnel

I print out directions. I bring the GPS on the theory it might actually help — but it rarely does. And we get there — maybe half the time.