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December 27, 2008

Hey Dude, Where's My Car?

buried 

When the pre-Christmas storm was forecast to leave 8 inches of snow we decided to leave the truck here on the land rather than at the base of the hill (near the plowed road). I figured it would be easier to "track" our unplowed road if I was heading downhill. The flip side, of course, is that we'd potentially have a half mile to shovel (NOT) if we got stuck.

Looking outside on December 23rd it was easy to see that the forecast had underestimated the snowfall. More than 20 inches of snow had fallen in the past 24 hours on top of the 16 inches we'd received in the 24 hours prior to that.

Yes, that's Marion's car in the photo above, buried by more than three feet of new snow.

Not to be ones to give up without trying, we dug out the truck, and, with chains on all four tires, I looked at Marion from the driver's seat and asked, "Are you ready?"

"Let's go."

I knew that if we stopped moving (or even slowed too much) our trip to the plowed Kibling Hill Road would be over. I put the truck in gear and accelerated cautiously. Our momentum built. Snow began to fly. Anxiety built.

The task soon became even more difficult as the snows were so deep that they were flowing up and over the hood, blinding us as we used the truck body itself as a plow. Nope, stopping is not an option.

Floating on top of the snow with chains clawing for traction on the loose white powder, we managed to keep ourselves between the trees and moving forward through the deep snow all the way . . . almost.

Thirty feet before the end, we could go no more. We were deep in it and stopped. I pushed my door open through the snow that was piled nearly to my window. Looking underneath the chassis I could see the well packed snow that had built under us to the point of lifting the vehicle beyond any hope of traction.

Thirty feet of shoveling? Not bad. Compared with the alternative, not bad at all.

buried

With a vehicle now on the "outside" we had a clear path to my sister's home for the family gathering on Christmas Day. (Marion's car, on the other hand, while now uncovered, is waiting for spring.)

My contribution to family dinners is usually apple pie. Hot out of the oven, the pie warmed my hands as we snowshoed down the mountain for a day of holiday cheer - a very white Christmas, indeed!

pie

December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

solstice

What better way to celebrate the winter solstice than with a major winter storm! Actually, it’s been storm after storm since December 1st. We had periods with wild swings in temperature, a serious ice storm (after which the photo above was taken), and two big dumps of snow (the second of which is taking place as I write).

Interestingly, when the power went out across much of Vermont and New Hampshire, we were completely unaware. The nearest power line is a half mile away and we experienced no change in our “off the grid” service (primary solar with back-up generator).

solstice

The picture above was shot before today’s storm got cranked up. The iron chairs that sit out front were buried up above the seats. We’ve received another foot or more of snow in the current storm so when I looked outside moments ago only the tops of the chair backs were still visible.

solstice

We live on an unplowed road with the intention of keeping the snow packed by “tracking” the half mile to Kibling Hill Road. Normally we do it by driving on top of the snow with the truck (with chains on all fours). Tonight, however, I decided to do a little “pre-tracking.”

“Marion, you sit on the sled while I pull you down the road.”

I put on my snowshoes and off we went for some afternoon play. I towed Marion down one tire track (or, as best as I could tell with knee-high snow on the road). Then, we walked back and I towed her down the other side. Marion can now say (and did) that she walked a half-mile uphill in a snowstorm, both ways!

solstice

SEND FOOD!

December 08, 2008

Cold on the Mountain

cold morning

We’ve been monitoring our temperatures in comparison with the nearest National Weather Service reporting station which is 30 miles to the east in the Connecticut River Valley (just across the Vermont / New Hampshire border). On average, our readings here on the side of the mountain are about 10 degrees lower. Translation: It gets COLD here.

This morning saw a stiff north wind sweeping across the meadow. When Marion stepped outside at 7 a.m. the thermometer on the porch was reading minus 11 degrees F. Yup. Eleven degrees below zero. (By the time I dragged my sluggish self out to take the picture above, the mercury had risen by two degrees.) With the wind gusting up to 20 mph we had a pretty substantial wind chill this morning.

Hmmm. I wonder what January will bring?

cold morning

Although today is clear and blue we decided not to take on any outdoor projects until things warm up a bit. Time to catch up at the desk, bake some bread, and curl up next to the Little Cod woodstove with a hot mug of tea.

cold_morning

December 03, 2008

Today's Sunlight

solar

Today’s priorities all involved the sun. While I can still work the earth I wanted to set the mounting post for our solar panel and drive the stakes that will anchor the greenhouse/workshop.

winter sun

It was a one of those wintertime treasures. Blue sky. Highs in the mid-thirties.

greenhouse

In addition to allowing a head start on the Vermont growing season, the greenhouse will serve as a sheltered workspace that hopefully will collect enough of the winter sun to allow me to continue with the many projects in the queue.

greenhouse

By the end of the day I was even feeling hints of a sunburn. I didn’t want to go inside until well after the sun had set.