Five Below on Saturday

Last weekend, we had another stretch of brisk weather. Five below on Saturday.

In the morning, my bare feet stung as I walked across the cold tiles in the kitchen. I could hear the house snap in response to the weather. On the north side of the house, ice rimmed the inside edge of one of our least insulated windows.

We haven’t had a deep freeze like this for a long time. It reminds me of childhood winters when the snow was piled high enough to make snow caves, and the temperature would dip below zero for a week or two. I am hoping that the frigid temperature keeps the tick population down.

I am very glad we have a blanket of insulating snow on the ground. Without the snow, the below zero weather would kill many of the perennials in my gardens. Years ago, this happened one extremely cold winter without snow. Half the perennials in the backyard didn’t make it and had to be replaced. That spring was an expensive one.

About a week ago we had rain on top of snow—what weird weather!—and our driveway became icy and treacherous as everything froze. Clif, however, has a solution that he only employs as a last resort: wood ash from our furnace. The ash is messy when we track it in, as we always do, but we both figure this is a lot better than falling. And by taking off our boots as soon as we come in, we keep the mess to a minimum.

The ash is in a metal can by the cellar. (You can see the walkway already has a layer of ash.)

After collecting the ash, Clif heads to the front, where he spreads itΒ  on the driveway.

Winter in Maine requires thinking ahead as we deal with snow and ice. But as Clif and I are Mainers, this seems normal to us. For now, anyway, we are up to the task.


Nifty Posts from Some of the Lovely Blogs I Read

On a recent post on his blog Now I’m 64, Platypus Man wrote something that should be emblazoned in everyone’s heart: “All living things are intrinsically valuable, worthy of our respect and protection regardless of their looks or lifestyle.” Imagine what kind of world we might have if this were the case. The post is about warty pigs, but Platypus Man’s words apply to all creatures great and small, including us.

From warty pigs, I moved to musings about science with Frank of Beach Walk Reflections. He laments that today too many people think science is an opinion. Instead, he writes, it is the search for an explanation of what we observe in nature. Amen, Frank!

Science, of course, is not the only way to observe nature, and in his post “Atmospheric,” Derrick, of the blog Derrick J. Knight, presents an enchanting series of pictures he and his wife Jackie took of their garden and the countryside.

From Thistles and Kiwis: Summer, beautiful summer, and a Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

From Touring My Backyard, fabulous public art.


Last week, Clif, Dee, and I finished—all right, binged—a snappy Netflix series called Archive 81, a supernatural thriller with a tinge of horror.Β  I tend to be a little wimpy when it comes to horror, and this one passed the “Laurie Test” with flying colors. We’re really hoping there will be a Season 2.

55 thoughts on “Five Below on Saturday”

  1. So pleased to read that you two can cope with what seems to us softies, really ‘over the top’ weather. Rather you than me, I am lost in admiration.

  2. In contrast to your icy weather, we are sweltering in 42 degree C weather here! I think I prefer the heat πŸ™‚

  3. Hi, Laurie – This morning on my walk, I was cold in our 4C (39 F) weather. After reading your post, and seeing your photos (beautiful to view when they are on my computer screen), I am incredibly grateful for our version of ‘cold weather.’ πŸ˜€

    1. And back in the day, our cold stretches used to be longer. We Mainers are a hearty bunch. Of course, there are a lot of seniors who head south for the winter. πŸ˜‰

  4. It is winter, for sure! I am so grateful for our wood stove, which has been quite busy of late. I’m sure yours is, too.
    I only used wood ash one year and switched to sand because of the sooty foot traffic (dogs/kids=mess!). Our town provides free salted sand at the town shed, but sometimes I scrape it from the road in early summer and store it in buckets for winter (dry sand doesn’t need the salt to keep it from clumping/freezing).
    Looks like another week of yo-yoing temps. Stay warm!

    1. Yes, ash is messy, but as we don’t have young children or dogs, it is manageable. Our transfer station also offers sand, but the ash is in a can right in our backyard.

  5. The weather has been unexpected this year. I like the use of ash, but I can see why you might not want that stuff tracked all over the house. I can’t imagine being in bare feet in a cold house–I always have slippers. But that must reflect your northern roots!

    1. Here is what I wrote in response to another comments: “As for going barefoot—tee-hee! You’re the second reader who has mentioned it. I should have clarified. One of the first things I do in the morning is turn on the gas heater, which is in the kitchen. At night, we keep the temp to 60, and in the morning I am eager for a little more heat. Hence the bare feet. Then, on come the socks and slippers for the rest of the day. ;)”

  6. I remember making snow caves, way back when! That was winter entertainment for us along with sledding, walking in the snowy woods and ice skating. I remember my first skates.

    The weather is a bit of a roller coaster ride. The mornings here have been cold recently, below freezing the last few days, but the afternoons were up around 60 degrees, and I am doing some light garden cleanup that does not require digging.

  7. That is just toooooo cold. Sometimes we go below zero, but mot for more than a day or two and we stay inside. Today it was in the 20s and snowed all day so we stayed inside, except when Katie needed to go out. Bruce just did the driveway for the first time today. Tomorrow? More snow. We’ll stay in. Retirement is a good thing.

  8. Just out of curiosity, does the ash help to melt the ice and snow, or does it only make it less slick? I was thinking about how snow used to melt first on the blacktop roads in Iowa, and wondered if black ash would have the same effect. Whether it does or doesn’t, that’s flat cold! How in the world do you trot around barefoot? That’s amazing. I’ll bet it’s temporary, though!

    1. No, the ash doesn’t melt the ice and snow. It just makes it less slick. As for going barefoot—tee-hee! You’re the second reader who has mentioned it. I should have clarified. One of the first things I do in the morning is turn on the gas heater, which is in the kitchen. At night, we keep the temp to 60, and in the morning I am eager for a little more heat. Hence the bare feet. Then, on come the socks and slippers for the rest of the day. πŸ˜‰

  9. My goodness, Laurie, five below makes me shiver. I’ve often wondered how perennials survived the cold winters in your neck of the woods. I’m glad you explained the importance of a snowy layer. What a shame that you had to replace so many of your plants after a harsh winter.

    It’s lovely the way you feature other blogs in your posts. You’re a good soul.

  10. Reminds me of winters in Scandinavia with temperatures like that. I definitely don’t miss it, especially the horrible slippy pavements when the snow melts and then freezes again or the piles of slush in the gutters. Do you ever use salt on the ice?

    Thanks so much for the mention and also other interesting posts to follow up.

  11. As you say, Mainers are resilient and used to coping with ice and snow. As I have spent my life in Africa and Australia, I am very interested in reading all about your winter. I had never thought of the snow protecting the perennials from the below zero weather.
    I don’t think I can come at any horror movie, but I’m pleased you enjoyed it and had your daughter there to enjoy it with you…that’s always special.

    1. Read other blogs is such a treat and really expands the horizon. I’m a complete wimp when it comes to horror, and “Archive 81” has very little. Mostly supernatural and suspense.

  12. You wrote “we had another stretch of brisk weather.” I’m pleased to see that understatement is alive and well, and living in Maine! πŸ™‚ Thank you, also, for the link to my blog!

  13. So back to normal in Maine. Great pictures. The protective warmth of the snow is an interesting point. We both thank you for the link. Now I just have to see if I can get Jackie to watch Archive 81

  14. Glad to know you are well prepared for whatever winter throws at you! Ash is a good way to keep your paths passable and it is free!

  15. Burrr ……. now that’s cold. Cliff spreading the ash took me back to my yourth. My small hometown spread coal cinders on the streets when it snowed. Must have been cheaper than salt. Thanks for linking the science beach walk. πŸ™‚

  16. Hi Laurie, It’s been cold here, at least by South Coast standards. Of course it is not northern Vermont or Maine cold, but the wind off the ocean is piercing. Today is warmish – mid 40’s – and gray. We had about an inch of snow earlier but it has now melted. Of course all eyes are looking south for the promised weekend storm. Thus far this winter all forecast storms have failed to live up to the hype. We shall see what happens…..

    We shall see how the gardens fare after all the freezing and thawing we have had, save snow cover. Hopefully this is normal enough the gardens be fine. Do be well and careful as the next storm seems likely to add substantially to your snowpack!

  17. Hope the window sealing is fine.

    The sequence of snow and rain, and fluctuating weather conditions are quite common here. We use spikes on our shoes for safety. The worst part is when foothpaths are cleaned but the person forget to spread sand.

  18. If five below was the actual temperature, what in the world was the “feels-like” temperature?? Mercy, it’s been a bitterly COLD winter here! When I was a kid, I remember getting lots more snow. It was cold, but this now is positively frigid. And, dare I admit it, we’ve only had a dusting of snow all winter. That’s not good. I dread thinking of my garden flowers and such. I imagine it will be an expensive summer for us.

  19. Loved remembering the snow caves of childhood and the snowflakes on the window!πŸ™‚ We’ve been very cold again but luckily our road, which usually at some point requires neighbors putting ash on the hill, has not been to bad this winter. I’m definitely hoping for a second season of Archive 81 and was happy to discover the podcast that it’s based on already has three seasons.πŸ™‚

  20. Good to see you have a lovely covering of snow Laurie to protect your plants and spreading the ash is a great idea. Hope you all stay safe and warm 🧑

  21. It’s a skill set I am not remotely familiar with dealing with snowy weather!!! Go Clif!

    I wondered about Archive 81 … I can’t watch any horror either … but since it passed The Laurie Test, I might give it a go.

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