Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Friday, December 03, 2004

Frost on the Windows

This morning there was frost on the upstairs windows. This old house still has the old storm windows and double-hung summer windows and on cold mornings, the inside surface of the storm windows grow frost. Sometimes the patterns can be very beautiful, but the frost represents significantly sub-freezing temperatures outside. If the windows downstairs have frost, that's a sign of an even colder night. So far this winter, only the upstairs windows have frosted and only on two nights.
Frosted windows is a memory from my past. I grew up here in this same town, but a few miles out of town, out past the airport. My parents' house was in an open field on an east-facing hillside overlooking miles of lake, forests, and mountains. In winter, when the wind blew we knew it. The wind would make snow drifts that sometimes encircled the house, usually no more than a couple of feet deep, but as much as six or eight feet deep by winter's end in March or April. We couldn't see the drifts, though, till we opened the door. All the windows were frosted, even the two "picture windows" that faced the view to the east.
I remember one particular year when I was five or so, it snowed and the wind blew for days, a genuine blizzard. I remember my father going out in it and walking up the hill to the garage where we kept the car. For some reason, I went out after him without his knowing it. I can still feel the sting of the icy snow pellets blowing horizontally in the wind against my face. When my dad saw me, he walked me back to the house where I was instructed to STAY! After that storm was over, we were stranded for another couple of days until a large bulldozer came to clear the heavily drifted roads. The drifts were up to eight feet deep and solid enough to walk on, even jump up and down on without even making a footprint.
Another year when I was around 12 we had another blizzard like that. My mother was with her mother in New York state so my brother, dad, and I were doing our own cooking. It was several days before we were able to get to town so we perfected baking powder biscuits in place of bread. Once the storm had stopped and the sun returned, my brother and I engaged ourselves in tunnel building through the biggest drift around. The snow was unbelievably hard-packed that time, almost impossible to tunnel in with just a square steel shovel.
My second year in the Air Force, the winter of 68-69, my home town got a total accumulation of 220 inches of snow - that's over 18 feet of snow! I have seen pictures of the downtown, which is on the southern shore of frozen-over 40 mile-long Moosehead Lake, with snowbanks so high the store owners tunneled through to get to their store entrances. One mid-winter double snowstorm left 59 inches of snow behind.
One winter after I was out of the Air Force, I was working at the ski area at Squaw Mountain. We had a heavy wind-blown snowfall overnight one night and I had the following day off. I shoveled out early and drove up to the mountain to ski and was on one of the first chairs on the lift to reach the top, even before the ski patrol. Coming down, the snow was so deep and so heavy that at one point it stopped me right in my tracks on one of the steepest sections of the trail leaving my skis buried in heavy snow!
So a little frost on the windows isn't all that bad after all.
Pass the bottle of rum? ...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Al-Jazeera’s Psyops

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=12/2/2004&Cat=14&Num=002

Fury

Although it is not yet officially winter here in Maine, take it from me... it is winter here in the northern woods of Maine. Yesterday's heavy rain didn't completely melt the snow that preceded it and the memory of that rain lingers only in the ice that has resulted from it.
Maine gets its cold from northern Canada, from gusty northwest winds and large high pressure centers that bring heavy, cold air down to us from the frigid northern plains and Hudson's Bay regions. Punctuating that cold are storms that come to us from the Ohio Valley or even from the Gulf of Mexico. If the storms pass west of us, we get rain and temperatures above freezing, but storms that pass to the east, out over the Gulf of Maine bring snow. Yet within a day, each storm is swept away by another mass of cold, gusty air from Canada.
I was just outside for a minute. The sky is gray with clouds but I could see the sun low in the sky trying to break through. The sun doesn't get very high in the sky in Maine from November through February. But on days like today, the sun bears no heat at all. One of the most discouraging experiences I can recall from my years in Maine is the experience of standing outdoors in the sun in winter, turning my face to the sun, and feeling no warmth on my face, no relief from the sharp winter wind. Today is that kind of day.
It's still early in winter. The thermometer is still high on the scale for a winter day. Within a month, it will be plunging to -20, possibly even -30 or -40 on occasion. The daytime sun will be even lower than it is today and will bear even less warmth than today's sun bears. Some years bring an unbroken string of below freezing temperatures from now till the beginning of March. And the only consolation that I know is that there are places on earth even colder than Maine!