IMG_0946_1
It’s snowing here. At the end of May. There’s enough on the deck right now that David was able to make a snowball about the size of a tennis ball.

It quit snowing sometime last night. We didn’t get as much snow as forecast, but we got enough to make me happy. After a bit of breakfast I cleared the driveway, and then I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. It has been a while since I’ve been there. There wasn’t enough snow to warrant snowshoes, so I just wore my hiking boots. They did just fine.

Here are some of the photos I took.

Trail to Northfield's sand pit

Trail to Northfield’s sand pit

Penny found a stick and wanted me to throw it. I obliged.
IMG_9155_1

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the trail goes downhill to Little Cohas Creek (as I call it – Cross Mill Creek as per official nomenclature).
IMG_9157_1

Follow it all the way to the creek and you come to this bridge.
IMG_9158_1

Go to the center of the bridge and face north, and we can see the creek as it empties Sandogardy Pond. I liked this shot.
IMG_9160_1

I followed the trail along the western bank of Little Cohas Creek and came to the beach. The pond was apparently frozen solid enough for an ice house and a half dozen people. I didn’t venture out onto the ice though.
IMG_9162_1

I saw a lot of deer tracks on this hike, and trailed them for a little ways. I never saw any deer, but I did see where one had shoved its muzzle into the snow to uncover some grass. I didn’t think to take a picture though.

We’re expecting another 2-4 inches of snow tomorrow starting around 10:00am. I’ll go out again if I can manage it. Penny will come along too in case there are any sticks that need to be fetched.

We finally got some snow today, and by that I mean more than an inch. Last winter was a complete dud (other than October 31, 2011), so I’m hoping this winter makes up for it. It started snowing around 10:00pm last night, and it’s not supposed to stop until tonight around 2:00am. We’re supposed to get 12-18 inches, but the last time I looked, we only had four or so. My guess is that 12-18 inches will really be about 6.

Beth had left her boots and snow pants at school, but she found that David’s boots and old snow pants fit her pretty well. So she put them on and out she went. Penny joined her.

Penny waiting to intercept some snow

Penny waiting to intercept some snow


Penny thinks her duty is to intercept any thrown snow before it hits the ground. Beth wasn’t throwing any, but Penny was prepared. She is ready to leap into action if duty calls!

David and I have come up with a motto for Penny:

Nonnumquam ergo semper!

It means “Sometimes, therefore always!” In other words, sometimes when master gets up from the couch in the family room, he goes to the living room and (gasp!) turns on the TV! Therefore, I will always be ready to freak out when the TV comes on!

Sometimes when master puts on his shoes, he goes outside! Therefore, I will always be prepared in case he lets me go out too! Incidentally, she can hear me slipping my feet into my shoes from the other room, and she will come running every single time. I am not able to do it quietly enough to slip out without her noticing.

In the case of Beth in the snow today, sometimes when she plays in the snow, she throws some of it! Therefore, I will always be prepared in case that’s what she does! Nonnumquam ergo semper! Heaven help us if I go out with a snow shovel.

While Beth was out playing, I worked on that canoe a little more. I fashioned a new in-stem from a piece of ash I ripped from a long plank. Then I tapered it. Before I glue it in place with epoxy, I decided to bend it to the proper shape so it will sit snugly against the existing out-stem. Normally, I would steam a piece of wood before bending it by putting it in a PVC pipe and running steam from a kettle into it. But I don’t know where my kettle is, and this was a small enough chunk of wood that I was able to slip it into the microwave over a dish of water. So that’s what I did, for six minutes.

But first, I had a bit of lucky happenstance. OB (original builder) used what looks like a walnut plank to add a stripe to the hull (as did I when I built mine). Unfortunately, it was about 2 inches shy of being long enough, so he added a chunk of cedar to the end to fill it out. Except that the cedar wasn’t as wide as the walnut, so he used two pieces of cedar, only one of them didn’t line up right. Instead, it poked itself deeper into the hull, so on the inside of the boat it sticks out and would prevent fiberglass from touching the surrounding planks, and on the outside, it is recessed such that no fiberglass will touch it when it’s applied. I had decided to redo that 2 inch plank, and the first step in that is to remove the botched one. I applied heat to soften the glue and was able to push them out, leaving a handy gap in the hull:

Bending the new instem

Bending the new instem

Handy, because that let me clamp my steaming-hot in-stem to the existing out-stem, thus bending it to the proper curve. Tomorrow I will make another one for the other side, and just hope that the two stems are shaped similarly enough to work out OK. The other side doesn’t have a convenient portal for a C-clamp. That should get it close enough such that a screw through the out-stem into the in-stem should hold it on while the glue sets.

So… that’s not a lot of progress for the canoe, but I’m not in a big hurry. Maybe I should be though, as I’ll want to park my car in that spot in a couple of weeks.

The Pathfinders presented the church service here at Holbrook yesterday morning, and that went pretty well. We did the same newscast/video that we did last week, and I did record it with my camera. Unfortunately, the result was pretty horrible, so I will not post it anywhere.

Then we had lunch, and after that, we piled into the vans and drove down to Heber to see the ponderosa pines. My strategy for this was to have Warran choose a destination and for him to drive the lead vehicle. We all just followed him.

Along the way, we came across a brush fire.

Brush Fire

Brush Fire


It had just started. A Sheriff was there, and the fire trucks were on the way. By the time we came back that way again, they had managed to put it out.

Warran found a place for us to park where there were trails through the ponderosas, so we pulled over and went for a hike. There was snow on the ground here and there, so the kids had a couple of snowball fights. In the desert. Cody made a snow angel:

Cody's Snow Angel

Cody's Snow Angel

We also saw a lot of animal tracks – mostly from a large dog, but also from some elk. The trail formed a loop which was nice. It’s always better to not have to turn around and see the same scenery.

Hiking through the Ponderosa

Hiking through the Ponderosa


We wanted to go farther down the road after that hike, but we were low on gas. So we headed back to HIS.

Since we were all together, we thought it would be a good idea to get a group photo. Here we are in front of the admin building at HIS.

Central NH Flames Pathfinder Club

Central NH Flames Pathfinder Club

Just after the sun went down, the three boys in our group and I looked for Mercury.

Sunset at HIS

Sunset at HIS


Venus, Jupiter, and a fresh crescent moon were easy to find, but we had to wait for it to get dark enough to find Mercury. We did find it, but I didn’t try to take a photo.

Saturday night is skate night at HIS, so we went to the gym for that. They have plenty of skates, so our kids got to skate with the HIS kids. They seemed to enjoy one another’s company. It was interesting to see how at first they stayed in their own groups, but eventually began to interact with one another. They made up some sort of game involving skates, a ball, and the basketball hoop. Pretty sure that would break every bone in my body!

Skating

Skating


Skateball

Skateball


On the way back to the dorms I dragged the kids behind the gym where we had a very good view to the south, and I showed them Canopus. Yup! It’s a star! I’m sure they all think I’m insane for getting so excited about seeing one particular star. I can’t explain it myself except to say that I am a complete and utter nerd. But now they can say they’ve seen a star never visible in New Hampshire.

We finally got some snow today. It wasn’t very much (3 or 4 inches), but it was enough to cancel school for Beth. I slept in and then did some work from home (but only managed to pull off half a day – the other half is vacation).

Penny takes a break

Penny takes a break

I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I also brought my camera, a one-inch chisel, a claw hammer, and a geocache I intend to hide in a dead pine tree along the banks of the creek that drains the pond. I have written about this cache before.

I have been doing a bit of research about Little Cohas, the Abenaki man who lived near the mouth of this creek. Cohas means “small pine tree.” I believe that “Sandogardy” also derives from Abenaki – “Sandagaji” means something like “next Sunday,” as best I can tell.

So what was the chisel and hammer for? I found a large, dead pine tree with a lot of holes in the trunk. My plan was to enlarge one of them so that it could accommodate the cache container:

Ta-da!

Ta-da!


Part two of the plan was to break off a sheet of bark and nail it over this hole to conceal the cache. I did manage to dislodge a large enough sheet from the tree, but when I put the nail through it, it broke into four pieces. So I put the pieces in my coat pocket and took them home. They have since been glued to a piece of mason board. I drilled a hole in the top of the cache “door” and put a nail through it. The other end of the nail will go into the tree just above the cache hole. It should be easy to rotate it out of the way and reveal the cache.

This will be a puzzle cache. The coordinates are written in the Abenaki language, so people will have to do a little digging to find it. Don’t tell anyone!

As forecast, we were hit with a major snowstorm yesterday evening. I measured the snow depth on the deck just after midnight and it was 13 inches deep then. I estimate that we got an additional two inches after that.

13 inches

13 inches


If you look closely, you can see Penny in the shadows in that photo.

I slept until 8:30 or so this morning, and by then, the snow had stopped and the melting had begun. Va made pancakes for breakfast (as is our tradition), and I read the Internet a bit before finally getting off my duff to clear the driveway.

By then it was only six inches deep in the driveway, so the melting was fairly earnest! With the driveway clear, I decided to don my snowshoes and make a path around my wood lot. I brought Penny and the camera along.

Neighbor's yard

Neighbor's yard


This shot show the weirdness of an October snowstorm the best. A tree in full autumn glory with a deep blanket of snow on the ground.
Penny can find sticks under the snow

Penny can find sticks under the snow


I liked this shot too. Penny has no trouble whatsoever finding sticks underneath the snow.

We went to Concord for lunch, and while we were on the way there, Va remembered a detail from last August. Our church had been presented with a contract for snow removal, but the agenda was so full, that it was tabled. The problem is that it was never untabled, meaning we did not have anyone lined up to plow the church’s lot. That wouldn’t be a problem except that we operate a school in the same building. We decided we’d drive by and see if it had been plowed.

Before we could manage that, however, I got a call from Katrina (our school’s teacher). The lot was unplowed! I called the pastor and left a message. I called Ken (our head elder). He called back, but I managed to bungle the buttons on the phone – so he left a message for me. When we got home again, Va dug through her records and found the plowing proposal, so I called the guy up. The plan there was to pay him for a one-off job until the church board could act on the contract. Unfortunately, he didn’t answer, and his voicemail was full and could not record any more messages. I don’t know why he even has a phone (it did that every time I tried to call him last winter).

I called another church board member thinking he might know someone with a plow. He started making calls, but had no luck. I eventually remembered that a co-worker of mine has a large truck and a plow, so I called him and offered $100 to plow us out. He jumped on that offer and I met him at the church 30 minutes later.

So now the lot is plowed and we can have school tomorrow.

Whew!

Here are some photos I took last weekend. Since I don’t have a lot of things to say this evening, I thought I’d let the pictures do the talking instead.

Unidentified, but very red mushroom

Unidentified, but very red mushroom


Unidentified mushroom

Unidentified mushroom


I like the way this one reminds me of a fan – you know – the type kids make by folding paper.
Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)


I liked the color on this leaf.
Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)


After I took this photo (and many others) Beth and I captured this bug. I have identified it as a western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis), and I think that’s probably correct. It eats pine sap, so we added some very resinous pine cones to the jar we put it in. It has now survived in captivity for six days and is showing no signs of flagging.

The jar itself is a one-pint mason jar, but instead of using the metal disk in the lid, we are using a couple of folds of paper towel. The bug can’t get out of that, and it lets air go though easily enough. I like that setup.

It snowed here last night – we got about an inch. It’s mostly gone now, but the deck is still covered with slush. I didn’t get any photos though, because I didn’t wake up until it was time to leave the house. Then we had to rush Beth through the morning routine, leap into the car, and get moving. She was only two minutes late for school, so I guess that wasn’t too bad.

We are supposed to get another six inches of snow tomorrow evening. We still have plenty of foliage on the trees too, and the weather predictors are saying that’s not a good thing. More leaves mean more wet, heavy snow will be caught by the trees. They are expecting lots of tree damage (and power outages) as a result.

I will surely get some photos of the snow if it comes.

Two days ago we got about four inches of snow.

Snow-covered bushes

March 22


I thought it was beautiful, but a lot of people in these parts grumbled about it. We had more snow today, but no accumulation. It was coming down fluriously around lunchtime. I met Jonathan at the Tea Garden, which is our habit on Thursdays. Along the way I passed a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and from a distance I could tell that it was in bloom. When I got close, I verified.
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) blossoms

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) blossoms


It is the first blossom I’ve seen this year. It beat the crocus and the hyacinths, and I was glad to see it, even if it does mean I won’t be getting much more in the way of snow this year.

I still have six inches of snowpack at my place. There are, however, a few bare spots in the woods here and there.

I'm melting!

I'm melting!


It’s hard to tell if that’s enough to justify snowshoes, or if I’m just putting them on for fun. 🙂 But I did put them on today, and found two or three quarts of sap in my maple bucket. I emptied it into my six gallon jug, and noted that it’s pretty close to half full now. I might have to start boiling it down soon. I don’t have a “real” evaporator – that’s hardly justified for only three gallons of sap, especially since they ask four digits for those on Craigslist. I don’t know why! Instead, I will just use a big soup pot. It worked last time.

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)


The vernal pools in my woods are growing larger. It’s getting difficult to navigate back there because there are so many of them. The snow is still a foot deep, except where these pools form. There are many of them covering my trail now, so I do a lot of meandering as I go through. Penny is clearly a more mature dog now (she turns four next month), because she also chooses to go around them, even when chasing sticks. Last year she would plow headlong into the water, but not so this year.

The photo above shows a couple species. The one sporting a red berry is partridge berry (Mitchella repens) which has shown up in this blog on many occasions in the past. But off the the right side I see the leathery leaf of a trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens). These will be among the first plant to flower, and I do look forward to seeing them in bloom again. One thing I know about them this year, that I did not know last year, it that the blossoms are edible. No preparation required – just pop them in your mouth. I will try that as soon as I see some, and will report on my impressions when I have some impressions to report!

I liked this photo because of the way the snow was sparkling. The partridge berry is growing under the water as I have observed them doing in previous years. It seems to not bother them at all.

I still haven’t seen any amphibians, but I have not stopped looking yet either. NH Fish and Game has a new site for reporting amphibian (and insect, and reptile, and mammal, and bird) sightings. I’m looking forward to doing that as well.

Last week I tapped my one maple tree, and then was very pleased that the weather seemed perfect for syruping – below freezing at night, and above during the day. But in spite of that, the sap isn’t flowing yet. I put on my snowshoes and went out again today after work to check on things.

Ready for action

Ready for action


Still no sap. Penny knew right where I was headed though, so she led the way. Not that she’s interested in sap – she was looking for sticks for me to throw for her:
Found one!

Found one!


We had some snow Sunday. I knew we were supposed to get a couple of inches, and I had to drive to Maine to pick up our February citrus shipment. I was surprised to find five inches in the driveway when I left the house.

Then today we had freezing rain followed by regular rain, so the snow is pretty wet.

I wanted to do a little snowshoeing on Saturday, but couldn’t talk Beth into going. So I went out alone (well… with Penny), but just stayed on our place. I checked out the frog pond and did the loop on the trail through the woods. I saw this mouse hole in the snow:

Mouse tracks

Mouse tracks


The tracks went along the surface for about five feet. I couldn’t see a hole at the other end of the trail because Penny had gone ahead of me and spoiled the trail (though she was oblivious to mouse sign, as best I could tell).

I don’t know how much longer this snow will last, but it’s over the well head in the back yard again. I guess that makes it two and a half feet deep or so. The snow we got Friday was light an fluffy, and the snow we got Sunday was wet and heavy. That definitely makes for a different snowshoeing experience. In the light stuff, the shoes sink down six to twelve inches (depending on how deep the light stuff goes). In wet, heavy snow, the snow gathers on the webbing. I guess the deck is webbed to allow the snow to sift through, but I’ve never read that anywhere. It just make sense. But it breaks down in wet stuff.

The other thing I did Sunday besides fetching fruit from Freeport, was dig a trench through a snowbank at the church. Two years ago we had even more snow than we got this year, and the snow pile at the church was preventing the parking lot from draining. We ended up bringing in a backhoe to cut a drainage channel. It was set to do that again, and I had to be at the church for a while in the evening so people could come and get their fruit orders. So instead of sitting around, I got a snow shovel and went to work. The snow shovel wasn’t enough though, as the snow bank had a lot of ice in it. In fact, it was solid ice at the bottom. But I had a mattock in the trunk of my car, so I fetched it and brought it to bear on the situation. It did nice work.

While I was working on that, Austin, our teacher’s husband came by. They just had their first baby a couple of weeks ago, and his wife had dispatched him to the school to pick up some papers or something. He offered to help me with the drainage trench, so I handed him the shovel. We talked about polar explorers as we worked, and in forty minutes or so, the trench was pretty much done. It’s about 30 feet long. We hit a curb and had to jog to the left to get around it (otherwise the water would not drain).

With today’s rain, I got to see if the trench was being effective or not – and I think it was! The water was “only” three inches deep at that end of the lot, compared to the six-eight inches it was two years ago. Also, the trench was full of water.

If nothing else, the trench would be a fun attraction for the kids during recess.