Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weird winter

Most everyone in the country -- heck, most everyone in the world this year! -- will agree that it's been a funky season. Several funky seasons in a row, in fact.

And so it's been here, where this winter has been the weirdest one of the 14 we've so far experienced in Vermont. It's brought the least snow, not even accumulating 2 feet since October, versus the norm of 1-2 feet per month. Long strings of days above freezing, instead of the reverse. Short strings of subzero days instead of the usual week of same per month, December through March.

As people who heat with wood, we appreciate such a mild winter! So much easier to haul firewood in from the stack out back, and so much less needed to warm the house. The downside is:


Weird winter weather has meant freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw, turning the dooryard into a skating rink and driveway into a luge run. These make simple tasks like bringing in the bird feeders at night, or walking out to the car, death-defying risks (never mind hauling wheelbarrows full of firewood!). I've only fallen once this season, though it did require a trip to the chiropractor to straighten out. In previous years, hubby and I have both taken falls that either created or solved chiropractic issues. It's amazing how exciting and dangerous living can sometimes be!

Thus the season has passed, to the point where we're suddenly on the cusp of spring. March, historically, is when winter gets its wackiest. The deepest snows have occurred in this month, along with the oddest mixes of weather. I recall one day when I passed through rain, sleet, snow, sunshine, wind, deep mud, and thunderstorm with hail and rainbow inside 20 minutes and 15 miles. This year, less dramatic -- but in 4 days we've had 10 inches of snow, followed by temps in the high 40s that melted away half of it, followed a hard freeze returning the yard to skating rink/luge run configuration, then rain, sleet, high winds, blinding sunshine, and clouds/fog, with single-digit temps forecast overnight and a bounce back to the 40s within 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the birds are starting to move and changing mix at the feeders. Woodpeckers, owls, and ravens have been doing the mating dance for weeks. First robins have arrived, looking very confused. A platoon of geese landed on the river not far from here, clearly resting from migration. And the sun, when it shines, is so strong that it's hard to believe the spring bulbs won't pop up tomorrow through the crust they've lain beneath for months.

What makes this all exciting is the crapshoot factor. Forget the weather forecast -- what arrives is almost always different from what's predicted, so that every day is an adventure. And only 16 more before it's officially Spring!

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