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.

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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.

We got the forecasted snow. It started yesterday, paused, and resumed again today. All told I guess we got 8 inches, which is about half what they were calling for.

I didn’t bother trying to go to work, but instead stayed here and made several tunics for Va’s Adventurer Camp-in this coming Saturday. She’s doing a program of Joseph in Egypt, and wanted as many white tunics as I could crank out. I think I knocked out four – they take about an hour each. I was hoping to make it to the church during the evenings to start decorating – we’re planning to build a pyramid in the fellowship hall.

I also put on the snowshoes and walked around the house a bit. We’ve got some massive icicles on the part of the roof I haven’t added extra insulation to. I’m kinda glad about that, as it tells me with no uncertainty that insulating the attic will prevent ice dams. I just need to finish the project! Meanwhile, I turned on the eave heaters to try to melt some channels in the ice up there so we don’t get a leaky roof.

I also took a lap around the trail in the back of our property. Penny came along and amazed me with her ability to ferret out a stick from beneath three feet of snow.

Penny found a stick

Penny found a stick

I also noted that our well is completely buried now:

Buried well head

Buried well head

I cleared the driveway before it got dark, just because I like doing that better when I can see. The other thing I did was installed a new distribution of Linux on my laptop. Three times. Once would have been enough, but I was trying to preserve all my user files, and keep my numeric user id (technical reasons) and that got a little complicated. So complicated in fact, that I had to redo everything. Twice. But it’s all good now. I switched to a 64-bit version so that I can install some tools that are 64-bit only for work. It should make my life a lot easier, but of course there will be several adjustments to suffer through on the way to ease.

Snow cover, 12-24-2010

Snow cover, 12-24-2010


Looks like a brown Christmas for us. 😦 We’re right smack in the middle of the grey patch in this NOAA map (central NH).

I bought two pair of snowshoes yesterday from a guy on Craigslist. They are both pretty old, but seem to be in pretty decent shape – mostly. One pair is smallish, and I think it will fit Beth perfectly. The other pair is large, and that’s for me. Unfortunately, the leather bindings are not currently serviceable. I bought a package of leather remnants for that at Michael’s today (we were out finishing our Christmas shopping – yes, at the last minute). The rawhide on the deck is in great shape, but the leather bindings are pretty much rotted. I tugged on one of the straps, and it broke in two. But the buckles are in good shape, and the rotted leather will serve well as a pattern.

I had wanted to make a set of snowshoes, but I’m having a hard time finding white ash. Rebuilding the bindings will partially satisfy my desire to do that. And I may yet build a pair, because it would be nice to have a third person along with us. Now that I have two pair to look at, touch, and handle, making a pair should be a little easier anyhow.

I was stoked to find that there will be a total lunar eclipse visible in North America tonight. Then I looked out the window – grey skies. It started snowing this evening, so I think eclipse viewing is out of the question for me tonight.

But I do like snow, and we don’t really have any to speak of. A few wisps here and there, but there is nothing on the ground between here and Concord at least.

I was in Keene yesterday to pick up a truck load of citrus (Pathfinder fundraiser), and they had an inch or two on the ground. I was jealous even of that. If I can’t see the eclipse, I sure hope I get some snow out of it.

We had hail yesterday and snow today. It was coming down lightly when I left for work. It came down more abundantly after I got to work. The bank thermometer said it was 43 degrees, but coupled with the wind it felt like -43. It was chilly!

It didn’t amount to anything, but it was an unmistakable sign of the coming winter.

I’ve been thinking about snowshoes lately. I have some rawhide that I bought about five years ago so I could make a traditional pair. I also cut down a small maple and rived out a stave. But that’s as far as I got. White ash is the preferred wood, but I don’t have any of that on my place. I might go out and buy a plank. If I’m going to put in the effort to make a pair, I’d rather use the right wood.

I will probably also end up buying at least one pair too, because I don’t want to go snowshoeing alone. I’m sure Beth would be game for it, and David probably would be as well, but that’s probably about it in my family.