I know it’s kind of gauche to bitch about the winter in New England when one chose to move and live here voluntarily lo these many years ago, but this winter is bitchworthy without further qualification.
We have never had as much snow as we’ve had this year, not even close. It has never been this cold for so long without any thaw days in the mix. We have never had three major winter storms on three consecutive weekends. Even here in the country, we are running out of space to push the snow, and down in Boston it just piles up because they don’t have any room left. Among my local friends, there’s widespread extreme winter fatigue. Spring can’t come soon enough, even if that means mud and blackflies, but at this rate I’m afraid it’ll take until July for all the snow to melt.
This is what the front of our house looks like right now:
The dogs have cabin fever. The humans definitely have cabin fever. And I’ve paid the plow guy so much money this year that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pushing snow with one of those new Bentley SUVs next winter.
There are locals who have lived here half a century who say that they’ve never seen anything like it before. When you have seasoned New Englanders crying “uncle”, it’s a complete Bitchwinter.
FREE: FIFTY THOUSAND CUBIC FEET OF SNOW. MUST PICK UP.
We moved to Castle Frostbite in December of 2007. The Castle has a driveway that is dog-legged and at a 5-percent incline that increases to nine or ten percent at the very top of the driveway, in the least convenient spot possible.
I’ve been driving Grand Caravans since before we moved up here, and those are front wheel drive only. Every year when our driveway gets its permanent winter layer of snow and ice, I’ve had frequent issues with making the driveway run from bottom to top, even with new winter tires, and I’ve had to park at the bottom of the driveway a lot.
This year, I finally decided to spring for a set of these puppies:
Those are Finnish Nokian-brand studded snow tires. As you can see, they have little tungsten carbide studs set into the treads, for bite on icy surfaces.
Those things are purest, darkest magic. My FWD minivan trucks up that icy incline now at least as well as Robin’s 4WD Jeep Cherokee. I don’t know why I didn’t try those out earlier…oh, wait, I do: they’re twice the price of regular snow tires. But man, are they ever worth the extra coin. Not only does the car have traction on ice like it’s asphalt in summer, but it stops much better on iffy surfaces as well. I haven’t spun a tire since I got the Nokians. TWO ENTHUSIASTIC THUMBS UP from the Munchkin Wrangler Gear Whore Labs. AAAAA++++ WOULD SHELL OUT HALF A MORTGAGE PAYMENT AGAIN.
Spring is great, because the snow melts and it stays above freezing at night again.
Spring is not so great because the snow melts and it stays above freezing at night again.
This right here is our road at the moment:
New Hampshire’s four seasons are Winter, Mud, Blackflies, and Preparing for Winter.
The snow is finally MELTING. I cannot overstate how great that is. I thought I was never going to be warm again.
I know it’s a little obnoxious when someone who voluntarily relocated to New England complains about New England winters, but this particular one was a cast-iron bitch. To illustrate: we usually buy six tons of pellets for heating fuel in the summer. The last few winters, we’ve burned four, maybe four and a half tons for the season, and we usually have a ton or more left over in the spring. This year, we burned through all six tons just past mid-March already (and used up half a 350-gallon propane tank besides), and I had to get another half ton last week to keep the stove running some more. From what the guys at the stove place told me, that’s by no means an uncommon occurrence this year.
These first fifty-degree sunny days have been pure magic. The chickens have been clamoring for outdoor recess, and the kids have wanted to play outside after getting off the school bus instead of racing each other to the Xbox. I have some hope that the ten-foot-tall snow pile next to the house may even melt before July.
Marko’s garage roof is a flat surface of 75×25 feet.
If there is a uniform snow layer of 2.5 feet thickness on the roof, a cubic foot of lightly compacted snow weighs 15 pounds, and Marko just removed all that snow with nothing but muscle power and a goddamn snow shovel,
a.) How much snow deadweight in pounds did Marko just shovel off the roof?
b.) How many Tim Tams at 95 calories a piece does he need to eat now to replace the calories he just burned shoveling all that motherfucking snow?
c.) How goddamn sick of the snow is Marko at this point?
d.) How soon can Marko relocate the denizens of Castle Frostbite to a new domicile in the more temperate climate of, say, western NC?
If Marko jumps off the roof into a snowdrift to save himself the climb down the ladder on shaky legs, his idiocy causes him to sink up to his chest into soft powdery snow, and he needs five minutes of exhausting struggling to free himself from his entirely self-inflicted predicament,
e.) How big of a drink is Marko pouring himself right now?
Spring has totally sprung, y’all.
Yesterday, the thermometer at Castle Frostbite recorded 88 degrees. Unfortunately, we lost power in the short but intense thunderstorm front that moved through the area in the evening, so it was also 88 degrees under the roof where the grown-ups sleep. We were in the middle of cooking dinner when the power went out, but the salmon cooked with the residual heat from the stove, so at least we didn’t ruin a $20 slab of good Alaska salmon.
Did you know that it’s kind of hard to fall asleep when it’s close to 90 degrees and you can’t run a fan or air conditioning because the electrons are leaking out of a broken line somewhere up the road? And did you further know that when the power comes back on at 2:30am, after you had finally fallen asleep, it’s even harder to go back to sleep?
So yeah, we’re dragging a bit today. I’m at the auxiliary office, a.k.a. the coffee shop, doing my writing for the day after dropping the kids off at Splash Camp. When I get home, I think I’ll check the acoustic integrity of the mattress for an hour or so.
Wee bit foggy out today, eh wot?
47 degrees after weeks of snow and biting cold will do that. I didn’t even see the school bus coming until it was about 30 yards away.
After-action report from Castle Frostbite: no big harm done here. We lost power for a few hours, and the winds were worryingly strong at times, but nothing got damaged. The chicken house remained in place.
The chickens have benefited from Sandy—when I let them out this morning, the run was a muddy mess, but all that moisture had drawn a lot of earthworms to the surface. It was like a breakfast buffet for the birds.
The weather is still pretty sedate here in Upper Cryogenica. The wind gusts have picked up a bit, but it’s still nothing unusual for the season. The storm is predicted to pass well to our west, but we’re still in the cone of possible projected courses, so we’ll see how that goes.
New York is getting socked right now, and the storm isn’t even ashore yet. It’s making the windows here at Castle Frostbite rattle every now and then from seven hundred miles away. Boston is 100-ish miles to the southeast, and they’re shutting down the town and folding up the sidewalks from what I hear. I’m expecting to lose power as the storm gets closer, but we’re all stocked with firewood, batteries, and water. At least it’s not ten below with a foot of new snow on the ground outside. I just hope that the chickens don’t get blown into Quebec…