My Global Warming Winter

We normally have relatively mild winters when compared with some areas of the country.  Now, where my aunt lives, the temperatures are brutally cold in the winter, but the humidity is almost nonexistent — making lower temperatures much more bearable than many of our humid winter days that are actually quite a bit warmer (she said this herself).  Here, though, you can occasionally have a Christmas worthy of Australia… where they’re surfing and basking in the hot rays of the summer.  We don’t usually have winters that warm (and those warm snaps are short-lived).

A few years back, we hit the 80s Fahrenheit in mid-February, and never looked back.  That, needless to say, was a long, long summer.

A couple of winters before that, before we moved here, it actually snowed several times.  And with appreciable accumulation, too — 4 – 6 inches!  Now snow… that is rare here.  Not rare as in going to eBay and finding 10 people all selling the same “RARE!!!” item — sorry, that ain’t rare — but rare as in it only happens once in 10 years, if you’re lucky.  That kind of rare.  And when it comes, it doesn’t stick around long.  It’s all melted in a rather depressingly short amount of time.

So with that background, and the knowledge that I have two kids who literally could not remember the last time they saw snow (at a funeral in the Northeast), you can understand perhaps why my beloved Shay and I made a very solemn promise to our kids.  We promised that if it ever snowed, no matter what time it was, even in the dead of night, we would make sure they got out to play in it.

Galadriel corrects me:  she has a few memories of the snow up north.  A snowball she threw at Daddy which hardly went anywhere, sledding, a patch of yellow snow (ick), and watching snow fall through the hotel window.

I was up late one night this winter, and the forecast was calling for sleet.  Or freezing rain.  Or maybe snow.  They really weren’t sure, as it was all going to depend on exactly how the front came through.  I saw on the radar that whatever the precipitation was going to be, it was now over us, so I opened the front door.

It was snowing.

I see snow!

Dutifully, I woke the kids, and told them to dress quickly, as there was no telling how long the snow would last.  In the few minutes it took them to get outside, the snow had begun coming down a good deal heavier (the camera caught only a small fraction of the flakes coming down).  It didn’t take long for them to get down to business.  At 2:00 in the morning.

Collecting snow from the truck.

With no accumulation on the ground yet, they began carefully collecting snow from Shay’s work truck.  They made sure to let as little snow as possible fall to the ground from the truck.  They even gently swept it from the top edges of the truck bed.

A small pile of snow, at first a mini-snowman attempt, now ready to be launched as a projectile:

Soon-to-be snowball.

After depleting the truck of its snow supply, they headed over to the minivan.  They continued going back and forth, as the snow would collect on one vehicle as they played with the snow from the other.  This picture is from the beginning of their second snow raid on the minivan, as you can see where they had collected snow from the windshield before:

Collecting snow from the minivan.

Needless to say, this was no fast and furious snowball fight. It was slow, calculated, and deliberate. Snowball remnants were recollected to help continue the war. Snow was collected from anywhere and everywhere it accumulated.

Collecting snow from the front stoop.

Finally, they had to admit they were chilled absolutely to the bone (it was our typically humid cold), and they went inside, to find that their grandmother had made cocoa for us all.  After warming up for a while, the kids decided it was time for Round 2, as the snow was still coming down quite nicely!  I couldn’t blame them, and back outside we went.

I think we lasted until about 3:30am or so.  On a weeknight.  I love homeschooling…

Another week or two later, they were forecasting the same thing — sleet …or freezing rain … or maybe snow.  Only this time, it would be in the daytime!

It ended up being sleet, with freezing rain later.

Collecting sleet from the truck.

Okay, so it might not be snow, but we have to do something with it, right?  It’s frozen, after all.

The sleet started off very, very dry, and refused to stick together.  I provided a spray bottle of water, hoping that would help them build a snowman.

Spraying the sleet to try to get it to stick together.

Unfortunately, it really didn’t help the sleet stick together that well, so they had to revise their plans.

Building a sleet pile.

Shay joined them, once freezing rain began accumulating, and showed them how to scrape the windshields for more ice.

Scraping the windshield.

Finally, their creation took shape.

Sleet frog.

I had dripped some food coloring around the perimeter of their sleet pile earlier, and now it showed up as splotches and streaks on their sleet frog.  So… I added green food coloring to the water bottle, and they sprayed him down.

Coloring the sleet frog.

The frog was soon to be armored with a layer of freezing rain, which, along with the fact that the temperatures didn’t rise much above freezing for several days, helped it to last for five days.  Having slowly lessened in size, it finally finished melting.

Meanwhile, there was more sleet to play with that day, once the sleet frog was finished! Galadriel got enough sleet to stick together to make a tiny snowman. Sleetman. Whatever.

Sleet man.

Of course, it wasn’t long before it got thrown at me.

Dodging the sleet man.

The stairs became more and more perilous, as sleet and freezing rain mixed with salt, at temperatures that didn’t allow the salt to do much.

Sleet, freezing rain, and salt on the stairs.

I heard about snow cream, and the kids had set out a bowl. Once it had collected a nice amount of sleet, we brought it in and made sleet cream!

Sleet cream.

It’s sleet, a splash of vanilla, sugar, and cream. YUM!

On yet another day, just a few weeks ago, we had an ice storm! I’ll grant that it wasn’t nearly as impressive as those I experienced in New York and Delaware, but it was pretty impressive for here.

Ice storm in the pines.

One pine rested its heavy bough on the clothesline.

Ice weighing pine bough down to the clothesline.

The pine needles appeared to be about to drip, but of course, they weren’t.

Frozen drips.

Even last year’s dog fennel was pretty with ice beads decorating it:

Ice beads on the dog fennel.

Then, of course, there was the frost heave, standing like fiberoptic wisps, or old-fashioned pulled candy:

Frost heave waves.

Frost heave filaments.

Frost heave in the light.

The kids found a crawfish with extremely poor timing (for those who don’t know, crawfish don’t do cold temperatures):

Frozen crawfish.

And here’s a random beautiful sunset:

Sunset.

The global warming continued, giving us an actual spring (!), when we normally go directly from winter to summer. Really, we only have three seasons here: Summer, Fall, and Rain. So we normally go from Rain to Summer. Instead, we went from Winter to Spring, a very unusual and pleasant experience for us. Today, when the historical average high would be 78*, it barely made it to 65*.

Loving every minute of it!

Well, except that some people have already planted around here, and we had an advisory last night because of the cold. Now I’m actually glad we’re running late… or maybe not, since some of the older folks shake their heads and say never to plant here until after Easter.

 


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