Posts Tagged ‘Maine winter’

Oops.

sodaMy bad.  I left a six-pack of root beer on the porch last night in sub-zero temperatures.  I woke up to the sound of exploding glass.  Until it warms up a bit, I can’t even clean up the soda spill which is frozen solid and stuck hard to the table.

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Walking on Water

Although it was considerably warmer today than it’s been, Little Pond, which sits at the bottom of our driveway, is now frozen solid.  It was a rather grey, bleak day, but we still try to get outside once or twice a day, seven days a week, to enjoy the fresh air and take walks no matter what the weather.  We decided it might be fun to walk across the icy pond, and get a different perspective from our usual view.

 

Our dog Spencer stands on frozen Little Pond.

Our dog Spencer stands on frozen Little Pond.

 

It was kind of fun to say we walked on water

It was kind of fun to say we walked on water

There are several large beaver dams at the edges of Little Pond.  Trappers do lay traps here.

There are several large beaver dams at the edges of Little Pond. Trappers do lay traps here.

Cattails along the edge of Little Pond

Cattails along the edge of Little Pond

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We're on the pond looking across to our house, hidden in the woods (designated by red arrow)

We’re on the pond looking across to our house, hidden in the woods (designated by red arrow)

Here is a closeup of the same picture.  You can barely make out our snow-covered roof.

Here is a closeup of the same picture. You can barely make out our snow-covered roof.

footprints on frozen Little Pond

footprints on frozen Little Pond

Our house.  You can see how snow has slid off part of the metal roof.

Our house. You can see how snow has slid off part of the metal roof.

Our 16 x 20 shed was completely stacked with cut and seasoned wood by the end of summer.  The “problem” is that the last few winters have been relatively warm and we haven’t had to use much wood in the woodstove, thanks to our very well insulated house.  Some of the wood has been sitting in the shed for more than 5 years.  The problem is that after a certain point, wood can get too dry and brittle.  At that point it won’t burn very hot and will burn so quickly that it’s not really fuel-efficient.  So this year we decided that rather than adding more cut wood to the shed, we’d just take our extra wood and leave it under tarps until we could make a serious dent in the “old” wood that’s been stored since we first built the house.  Because it’s been very cold, we have been using more wood for heat in general.  I think we still have several years to go, though, before the shed is emptied of the “old” wood, but hopefully we’ll use it up before dry rot sets in.

 

This shed wall was filled with 4 layers of wood stacked 6 1/2 feet high at the end of summer 2014.  We've managed to use up quite a bit by January 2015.

This shed wall was filled with 4 layers of wood stacked 6 1/2 feet high at the end of summer 2014. We’ve managed to use up quite a bit by January 2015.

 

But as you can see, we still have plenty of wood left in the rest of the shed.

But as you can see, we still have plenty of wood left in the rest of the shed.

I still can't believe we split and stacked most of this wood ourselves, log by log - around 20,000 lbs!

I still can’t believe we split and stacked most of this wood ourselves, log by log – around 20,000 lbs!

 

 

Am I The Only One Who Loves Winter?

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View of the wood shed and generator during a short lull in the storm

(Disclaimer:  Unlike most people, I am not in any way inconvenienced by snow.  I don’t have to worry about a power loss.  I don’t have to commute to work or drive kids in a carpool to school in the snow or ice; deal with traffic; idiotic drivers who go too fast or too slow; or be at risk for a driving accident due to inclement weather.  I don’t have a  job outdoors like a utility worker who must risk his or her life during a terrible ice storm in -40F to help restore heat or power; or a logger who must hoist tens of tons of felled trees into a logging truck and then drive the logs on icy, narrow, snow-laden back roads to the mill.  I don’t, thank G-d, have to worry about how I can visit a loved one in the hospital in inclement weather, and I am most assuredly not 9 months pregnant in the middle of the blizzard of the century.)

Our ground-mounted solar panels during the storm.  This is why it's ridiculous to install solar panels on your roof:  Are you really going to wait for the snow and ice to melt after the storm so they can start collecting light?

Our ground-mounted solar panels during the storm, easily cleaned off with a broom after the storm stops. This is why it’s ridiculous to install solar panels on your roof: Are you really going to wait for the snow and ice to melt after the storm so they can start collecting light?  Or even worse, are you going to climb a ladder to reach them all the way up on the roof so you can clean them off?

Yesterday I was grocery shopping in No. Conway NH and I overheard a conversation by some workers taking a break.

“I am ready for summer!” said one.

“I am sooo tired of winter,” the other agreed.

Meanwhile my Zumba teacher said that class is cancelled for next week – she is “going to Florida for a break from winter.”

(I could not get over the fact that they were having this discussion on a brilliantly sunny, clear day witih temps in the mid-20s, when visibility from Mt. Washington was 100 miles and it was gorgeous everywhere you looked!  Besides… would they be truly be happier in Spring, aka Mud Season and Blackfly Season?)

It might be wishful thinking, but all the stores in town have started putting out their Spring merchandise, and winter garments are on clearance.  This, despite the fact that realistically we have another one to two months of winter weather ahead of us.  Still, there is something different in the air – – a feeling that winter (despite today’s mammoth snow storm!) is winding down.  Am I nuts?  I miss winter already!  I simply love winter  in Maine.  There are so many wonderful things about it:

  • I love the heat from our wood stove.  It’s a heat that penetrates to your bones, and makes you feel cozy all over.
  • I love the fact the wood we use is from our own land.  We had to clear quite a bit of woods to make way for the driveway and our house.  None of that wood is going to waste!  We also had to clear a large area beneath the house so the solar panels would be unobstructed from the sun.  I have since planted semi-dwarf apple trees in that area so we don’t feel the loss of trees from our woods.  I worked really, really hard over the summer stacking logs in the wood shed.  It’s nice to see all that work being put to good use!
  • I love my MICROspikes, my hiking boots, and my Muck Boots in winter.  They keep my feet warm and dry and allow me to go anywhere outside, even when it’s icy.
  • I love walking outside.  It’s astoundingly beautiful and you rarely see another human being on a trail.  It’s not just black and white – there are thousands of shades of grey in between. With the absence of foliage the views are even more expansive.  And it’s so good to keep moving in cold weather!  You just feel wonderful, and your cheeks get an apple red color that make them positively pinch-able!  When I go for walks in winter, I feel like I’m glowing from both inside and outside.
  • I love the quiet.  Everything is muffled in the snow, the world is at rest, yet when there is sound, it is heightened and your senses feel sharpened.
  • I love the secret world of animals, revealed.  Evidence of life is everywhere in the tracks in the snow.  Raccoons, birds, chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes, mice, skunks, deer – – it’s amazing to know what traverses our property when we’re not looking, and this is something we may otherwise miss any other time of year.
  • I love shoveling snow.  Yes, I know, people die of heart attacks from shoveling snow all the time.  But ever since we bought our snow pusher, it’s not a chore; it’s a joyous exercise in efficiency and fun.
  • I love the exuberance.  Even though I don’t go snowmobiling, I love watching snowmobilers having their fun.  I love watching kids building snow forts.  I love watching ice fisherman drive with their pickup trucks right onto a frozen lake and settle in to their ice shacks.
  • I love the clothes.  Down vests, down jackets, Peruvian wool hats, leggings, fleece – – they’re all incredibly cozy and comfortable.  If you know how to dress for the weather, you simply Will. Not. Be. Cold.  Even outside in -5F.  Really!!!
  • I love the food.  Freshly made thick soup on a cold day — what could be more divine?
  • I love bird-watching in winter.  Is there anything funnier than a blue jay that looks like he’s wearing an inflatable sumo wrestler suit, all puffed up to protect himself from the cold?  Our bird feeder attracts nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, woodpeckers and turkeys, plus squirrels and chipmunks and the occasional annoying raccoon.  We don’t keep a bird feeder out any other time of year except winter, due to marauding bears.
  • I love not being afraid of winter, and feeling prepared to take on challenges.  We have a well-insulated house with a good heat source; we have plenty of food and emergency supplies stocked and rotated for freshness; our AWD cars are always filled with gas and we have studded snow tires. We have backup power for our solar system and a backup to our backup (generator).  Our propane tank is filled before winter starts. Our cellphones are kept charged.  We have a huge library.  My husband is a licensed ham radio operator.  Even in an emergency,  if we couldn’t get out, we are good for several weeks by ourselves.
  • I love the sunny days.  Winter in Maine has a surprising number of sunny days.  It would be unusual to go for more than 3 or 4 days without clear, brilliant blue skies.  And when it’s sunny it feels much warmer than the actual temperature thanks to the rays reflecting on the snow.  I have been outside on a windless day for a sun bath in my shirtsleeves in 20F and I was not cold.
  • I love passive solar in winter.  When it’s sunny on a winter day, our south- and west-facing windows heat up the house so well that I don’t even need to use our wood stove to keep the indoor temperature at 65F.  Yesterday our porch, which has acrylic panels instead of screens in winter, heated up to 80F just from the sun, when it was 30F outside.
  • I love the sight and sound of snow and ice crashing off the roof.  It’s very dramatic, thrilling, and scary.
  • I love the fact that one is never too old to make a snow angel!
The birdfeeder

The birdfeeder

Autumn vs. Winter

An old barn in Evergreen Valley, Stoneham, Maine.  Speckled Mountain is in the background.

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Lots. More. Snow.

Enjoying the beauty of winter in Maine!

This past snowfall was a very wet, heavy snow, of which you can see evidence by its weighing down this birch tree to form a perfect, beautiful arch.

This past snowfall was a very wet, heavy snow, of which you can see evidence by its weighing down this birch tree to form a perfect, beautiful arch.

Our street was plowed within one hour after the snow stopped falling

Our street was plowed within one hour after the snow stopped falling

The plow guy is in touch with street plow people so he knows when to come and do our driveway.  He usually follows right on the heels of the main road plow person.

Our driveway plow guy is in touch with street plow people so he knows when to come and do our driveway. He usually follows right on the heels of the main road plow person.  Beneath the house, on the bench, we’ve placed a 50 lb salt block, but so far no deer or moose have come to take a lick.

Little Pond

Little Pond

Little Pond

Little Pond

Little Pond

Little Pond

Wild turkeys foraging

Wild turkeys foraging

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Our dog, Spencer, is dwarfed by the presence of winter on our driveway