Category Archives: Weather Report

Polar Punch

Weather Report

On Friday we had what has been referred to as a “Polar Punch.” Cold air from the Arctic blew into New England, and in central Maine the temperature dipped to -23°F, with the wind chill making it seem like -50°F. As a Mainer, I am used to cold weather, but this, as the saying goes, took the cake. I don’t remember winter ever being this cold when I was a child.

On Friday night, as the temperature plummeted and the wind blew hard, the house cracked in loud protest. At first, Clif and I thought a bird had flown into a window in the dining room, but when we checked the ground below the windows, we didn’t see anything. However, when the cracks continued, we realized the noise was coming from the house itself, and it felt as though we were being visited by restless spirits. Two Facebook friends described how their dogs were spooked by the sharp cracks, which sounded like gunshots or large branches breaking. I could sympathize with the dogs. Clif and I were disconcerted, too.

Through it all, we stayed cozy and warm and mostly inside. (Clif braved the Arctic blast to check the mail.) We have three kinds of heat—electric, gas, and wood. We used them all. I expect we won’t  be too happy to see next month’s heating bill, but staying warm is important.

And what is the forecast for next week? Highs in the 40s. What the heck!

Here is a pictorial record of the Polar Punch at our home on the edge of the woods. While I didn’t get a shot of the thermometer when the weather was at its coldest, this is what the temperature was on Friday night before we went to bed. Still a bit on the brisk side, and with the wind blowing, it felt even colder.

When I got up on Saturday morning, it was still pretty darned cold.

Ice coated the inside of the dining room windows. (We have insulated shades that we pull down at night.) The leaves are decals we use to help stop the birds from flying into the window. If you look closely, by the last leaf at the bottom, you can the circles my finger left behind as I tested the window to see if the ice was on the inside or outside.

The window in my bedroom was completely covered. Fortunately, this ice was on the outside.

In the kitchen, at least, we could peek outside, but note the layer of ice on the inside at the bottom.  I’m not sure why there is such a difference in ice build-up on the various windows, but it’s probably due to the age of the glass and the variation of the insulating shades, which were not bought at the same time.

The fierce wind blew sticks and debris into the yard. I’ll be waiting until spring comes to clean them up.

Lucky for us, the polar punch didn’t stay long. By Sunday, the ice inside the window was gone, and the temp was 25°F and climbing.

For now, at least, the extreme cold is over.

This week, there will be no Reading Section on this Monday post.  While Clif and I are pretty unflappable when it comes to cold weather—we are Mainers, after all—this weather gave us the jitters and pretty much dominated our thoughts and conversation.

Next week, I’ll discuss another book.

The Day after the Hurricane

Once again, we got lucky at our home in the woods. Because the hurricane moved west, Maine got scraped rather than directly hit. But it was a hard scrape, and over 91,000 customers lost their electricity as trees came down across power lines.

Although plenty of people in Winthrop lost their power, we did not. The lights flickered several times, but that was it, and I awoke to the comforting hum of the refrigerator.  Such a relief. We have two freezers—one upstairs and one down cellar—and it would have been hard to lose all that food if the power had been knocked out for days and days, the way it often is on our rural road.

In a little while, Clif and I will head outside to put the patio back in order. The birds really depend on the bird bath for water, and yesterday they couldn’t figure out why the bowl was on the ground. They just sat on the pedestal and looked around, wondering where the water had gone. I felt bad for the birds.

Here’s a picture of our lonely patio. Soon the table and chairs will be back, and the bird bath will be put together so that there will be plenty of water for the birds.

Other parts of the United States weren’t as lucky as Maine. In particular, the hurricane hammered North Carolina, New Jersey, and other states on the Eastern Seaboard. I’ve heard from one New Jersey blogging friend, and all is well with her. I hope the same is true for other blogging friends whose homes were in the path of the storm.

And for all those who were hit by the hurricane, may the recovery  be swift.




Life Running in a Different Direction

“Life ran back and forth, land into people and people back into land, until both were the same.”  –Lura Beam, A Maine Hamlet

Last Sunday, we had very cold weather and eight inches of snow, both standard for Maine in January. Then yesterday, the temperature shot up to 49° Fahrenheit, and the rain came bucketing down, rapping against the windows, slanting into our faces, soaking our coats as we did errands.

Before we left to do errands, Clif threw sunflower seeds on the snow for the ground feeders, which are often birds but in this case were squirrels.

Then the wind came, fortunately not strong enough to knock out our power but strong enough to make it difficult to open our car doors as we went to the various stores.

Last night the rain stopped, the temperature dropped to freezing, and this is what we woke up to.

First, the good. Our front steps are completely clear of ice and snow, no small thing in our shady yard.

Second, the not so good. Our driveway is glare ice.

As are the walkways to and in the backyard.

And the snowbanks are as hard, dirty, and ugly as they are in March. Except this is January.

I started this post with a quotation from the remarkable Lura Beam, a Maine native, writer, educator, and researcher. According to Wikepedia, “Her interests included the poor, minorities, women, education, and the arts. She co-authored two books discussing medical studies on sex adjustment and sex education with Robert Latou Dickinson, and a noted memoir of growing up in turn-of-the-century Marshfield, Maine. She was the long-time companion of Louise Stevens Bryant.

Lura Beam is perhaps best known for her “noted memoir,” A Maine Hamlet. The opening quotation comes from that book, and I was much struck by it.

Like Lura Beam, Clif and I are also Maine natives, going at least five generations back for both of us. We belong to Maine. It is a part of us, and we are a part of it. For most our lives, we knew the rhythms of Maine and moved knowingly through the seasons—the brilliant cold of winter; reluctant spring, which burst in a frenzy of blossoms upon us in May; beautiful summers, not too hot, not too rainy, just right; and the glory of fall, so bright and beautiful with its explosion of yellow, red, and orange leaves.

But now, with climate change, it hardly seems as if we know Maine at all. Summers so hot that we can barely stand it? September being an extension of August? Rain and 49° in January? In what universe? In this one, it seems.

We must adapt. We have no choice. But for Clif and me, two old Mainers, it is very disconcerting.



Too Hot, Too Hot

Right now it is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Time seems to have slowed to the point where I can actually feel the seconds pass one by one. My energy level is so low that all I can do is lie on the couch and wait for the backyard to be in shade so that I can go outside. Too hot, too hot.


Weather Report: A Farewell to Winter and Time for a Short Break from Blogging

Well, folks , the time has come to bid farewell to winter and to Clif in his snow-gauge role. As the picture I took this morning indicates, the snow is gone from our front yard  Note the straw hat. Somebody is definitely ready to retire from being a snow gauge, at least until next year.

For a wee reminder of how quickly the snow has melted, here is snow-gauge Clif two weeks ago, on April 9.

However, there is still a sliver of snow in the backyard, which Liam, dog of the north, found. Every since he was a puppy, Liam has followed the melting snow. It’s where he likes to chill. Literally.

But, the temperature  has finally risen above freezing, and that sliver of snow will soon be gone.

Yesterday, we brought out the small patio table,

and toasted Shannon on her Earth Day birthday.

Because she and her husband now live in North Carolina, they could only be with us in spirit on the snow-free patio.  (We did, however, Skype with them .)

Starting today, I’m going to take a short break from blogging—a week and a half or possibly two. I’m coming down the homestretch with my YA fantasy novel Library Lost, the second book in my Great Library Series. I really need to just focus on finishing the book, so that the long process of editing can begin.

My first book, Maya and the Book of Everything, is featured in the upper left-hand corner of this blog. Many thanks to all the blogging friends who have read the book and have made such thoughtful comments. I appreciate it so much.

I’ll back sometime in May, when spring is in full bloom, and there will be many flowers to photograph.

Until then, happy spring if you live in the northern hemisphere and happy fall if you live in the southern hemisphere.


Weather Report: In which Progress Is Made but Then Is Ruined by Freezing Rain

Spring is quite the little trickster, she is. On Friday, she brought us weather so warm that Clif and I raked part of the back lawn, and we didn’t even need to wear our jackets. But Saturday arrived with a cold rain. On Sunday it became even colder, and the rain turned to a freezing drizzle.

This is what our car looked like this morning, with one window scraped and the other left untouched.

But progress has been made. Here is a shot of the Kennebec River.

There are still ice chunks along the banks, and I wonder if they will be there until the end of April. They are so thick! The one below looks like a mini-iceberg.

Here is another view of horizontal ice chunks.

Despite the miserable drizzle, our yard is nearly snow free, and snow-gauge Clif’s job is coming to an end. Next week, perhaps, depending on what Spring has up her sleeves.

Come, Spring, Come! We long to see your pretty face.


Weather Report: One Down, Two to Go

I am happy to report that the three or four inches of snow that fell on Friday is gone, gone, gone. Goodbye, and don’t come back until next winter! But Winter is not quite done with us yet, and she has given us a blast of cold weather that is more than a little brisk: 25°F  and very windy. Although he put a brave face on it, Snow-gauge Clif shivered as I took his picture this morning.

But I am getting ahead of myself. On Sunday, we went to Hallowell for a picture of the Kennebec River. Despite the snow, despite the cold, the Kennebec is nearly free of ice. Oh, the blue of that sky and water!

But the ice chunks aren’t gone. Not quite yet. I’m wondering how many weeks it will take before they finally melt.

Now, back to Narrows Pond Road with a ta-dah! The snow is nearly all gone from the backyard, and thus Snow-gauge Clif’s job there is done. Not enough snow to worry about. In fact, it’s time to think about raking.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the front yard, which is much shadier than the back. Snow-gauge Clif’s job is not quite done.

But let’s return to the backyard, where I saved the best for last. Another ta-dah, ta-dah!

The snow is nearly gone from the patio, and it’s not even close to April 22, Shannon’s birthday.

What do you think? One more week? Such excitement on Narrows Pond Road. Stay tuned!



Weather Report: A Miraculous Week

In Maine, the velocity of change in spring is nothing short of astonishing. So much can happen in seven days, and here are the pictures to prove it. Because the changes have been so dramatic in just a week’s time, I thought it would be good to feature last week’s pictures along with this week’s.

Last week overlooking the Kennebec:

This week overlooking the Kennebec:

As you can see, the ice has really receded, and there is a lot more open water. However, the ice chunks, made thick and stubborn by winter’s extreme cold, still hover by the shore. I wonder how long it will be before they are completely gone.

Now to our front yard. Last week with snow-gauge Clif:

This week with snow-gauge Clif:

There is quite a change in the front yard, but most dramatic is the backyard, where we get more sun. Here is last week:

Drum roll, please! Here is this week:

And all in seven days. Seems almost like a miracle. The patio has begun to emerge, and next week I’ll include pictures of the patio, which we always hope is clear by Shannon’s birthday on April 22.

Last week, I was very doubtful. But now I have  hope. Shannon, it just might happen.


Weather Report: A Softening, but Still a Lot of Snow

Here we are, at the end of March. Finally, finally, the weather seems to be softening. We still have plenty of snow, as the following pictures indicate, but the days have been sunny and if not exactly warm, at least not quite as cold.

The mud and grit have arrived, a little late. All those March snowstorms have put us at least two weeks behind where we usually are this time of year. All we can do is hope that the thaw is quick. Such a mess, inside and out.

However, rather than brood about the mud, I’ll turn to the Kennebec River, which is beautiful and fascinating no matter the season.

Here is a picture Clif took on Saturday. While the middle of the river flows clear, the edges are lined with some pretty impressive ice chunks.

Here is a closer look. Luckily, a bird (a crow?)  decided to fly by just as I was snapping the shot, and this will give you some sense of the scale of those massive ice chunks.

I can’t even begin to guess when those chunks will be completely melted. Mid-April? End of April? I suppose it depends on how warm the weather is.

Meanwhile, back at our little homestead, with snow-gauge Clif.

Here is the front yard. Still a lot of snow, but the driveway has begun to make an appearance. In our yard, that counts as progress.

This week, I’ve also decided to add the backyard, and this, too, will be a regular feature. Over the years, our daughter Shannon has come up with a birthday wish—that all the snow will be gone from the patio before her birthday, April 22.

As you can see, the patio has a long way to go, and it looks very doubtful that the snow will be gone by April 22.

But we shall see.

Finally, here is a picture to show that although it looks as though central Maine is still in winter’s frozen grip, spring is slowly, slowly coming. Note the red buds on the tree.

Perhaps the finches are even discussing when nest building should begin.

Not quite yet.

Weather Report: Snow-Gauge Clif and a Special Day

The Kennebec River

On Saturday, we went to the lookout spot by the Kennebec River, and while we could pull in to the drive-through, the snow was plowed so high that I couldn’t get onto the platform. This meant I had to stand by the car to get a picture. (As soon as the snowbanks go down, I’ll be back on the platform to take pictures.)

Here is what the river looked like last week, when I was standing on the platform.

And here is what it looked like this week, when I stood by the car.  You can see that there is a bit more open water on the river.

Our Yard

We live in the woods and have a such a shady yard that the snow melts very slowly. It really seems that our yard is one of the last in town to emerge from winter. After living here for thirty-four years, we are used to it. Nevertheless, each spring we impatiently wait for the snow to go.

Here is our yard today, March 19. I’ve decided to use Clif as a reference point next to the snow, and Clare Pooley, a blogging friend, has dubbed him “snow-gauge Clif.” Perfect! Snow-gauge Clif and his red yardstick will be making regular Monday appearances on the blog until the snow is melted. Here he is today.

Sure looks like we live in the frozen north, doesn’t it?  No surprise, as Maine is north of north for most people in the United States.

And here was the temperature this morning. There was a brisk breeze, making it even chillier. Hard to believe that two weeks ago, we were eating ice cream outside at Fielder’s Choice. I do believe that day was the warmest of the month.

Today also happens to be a special day for us. It is our forty-first wedding anniversary. Why in the heck we decided to get married in March is something I’ll never be able to figure out, but we did. And, I must say that it perks up this dismal month.

To celebrate we are heading to Bath, Maine, a small city about an hour from us. Bath is on the Kennebec River and not far from the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ll be posting pictures tomorrow.