posts tagged with 'snow'

April snow brings wet fun

On Friday morning when Harvey announced it was snowing Mama denied it without even looking. Yes it was chilly and rainy, but snow in mid April? Well, sure! It's happened before. And over the next half hour the big flakes mixing with the drizzle got more frequent until they took over completely and the snow started piling up. By lunchtime there was a couple inches on the ground—enough that we altered our plans to hike with our friends and went sledding instead.

the kids sledding in the misty drizzle

spring in New England!

Not that it was easy! Boots, mittens, and mufflers had all been misplaced since the last cold weather. And the sleds were way down in the back of the basement. But we made it happen, and were only ten minutes late (no worries; our friends had the same problem with their own gear). By the time we hit the slope the snow had changed back into drizzle, but that didn't mean it was warm. Quite the reverse, at least for the grown-up type people shivering at the top of the hill! For the kids the main issue was that the wet wet snow wasn't particularly fast, but it got better as they packed it down. And it was prime for making snowballs!

the kids rolling a big snowball

the first of many

It was lovely to be there at one of our favorite sledding spots—where we hadn't gone all winter because of our friends' careful quarantining. That said, we didn't actually manage to stay very long. After a little over an hour everyone was sopping wet and ready to go home, making it easily the shortest play time we've ever had with those friends. But it was lots of fun while it lasted! And now that it's sunny and springlike again we can look forward to running around barefoot with them later this week. Ah, the joy of an April snowstorm!

a daffodil smashed down by the snow

snow showers, snow flowers


why don't they make ski-barrows?

After the big snow the beginning of last week, it was all I could do to shovel out the essentials: the walk, the driveway, and the path to the chicken coop (and even for that much I really appreciated some help from our across-the-street neighbor and his snowblower after our next-door neighbor's plow service buried the back end of Leah's car...). So for a few days the areas at the back of the house were completely impassible. I finally got to work there this weekend—because the compost situation was getting a little out of control, and also because I do enjoy having the back deck cleared if I can manage it. It's a great space at any point, and all the more so when it's surrounded by snow. And who knows when we might want to have a fire? But it's not been easy to get it shoveled.

Part of the problem is that I waited too long, and the first load of snow developed a crust which then got covered by more snow from the next storm or two. But even more challenging is the fact that there's just not that much room to put all the snow! Sure, some of it I could just push off the edge, but before long the level of the piles was up as high as the deck (it only stands a couple feet off the ground at its highest point above ground level). And I could only pile in a few spots, since I didn't want to bury the fireplace or bank too much snow around the chicken coop for fear of it leaking.

After some contemplation, my solution was to dig out the wheelbarrow and use it to carry loads of snow over to dump on the garden beds, where it will act as a (very weak) fertilizer. Of course, to do that I had to fashion a ramp down from the deck out of a 10-foot length of 2x10, because the snow ramp wouldn't support the wheelbarrow. The challenge of walking up the slick snowy ramp was balanced out by the fun of sliding down it behind the full wheelbarrow. Then, since I couldn't actually push the wheelbarrow on the snowy ground, I had to shovel snow from the single dump pile at the base of the ramp to all the various garden beds. Needless to say, the project is ongoing—would be ongoing even if it didn't keep snowing more. No complaints, though: I do love playing in the snow!

the wheelbarrow on the snowy deck

is this sane?


walking (and walking and walking) in a winter wonderland

Yesterday afternoon I took the dogs out for a walk in my favorite woods. It was maybe a little ambitious, given that it had snowed 18 inches the day before, but I figured—to the extent that I thought about it at all—somebody probably would have broken a trail in the more than 24 hours since the snow had stopped. That was not the case. Climbing over the pile left by the plow to get into the woods I sank up to my waist, which set the tone for the next hour.

It was strange snow we got in this storm. It has some fluff to it—it must have to accumulate so high just overnight!—but it's also super wet. The shoveling was easy where the snow was undisturbed, but where it had been stepped on or even brushed off somewhere else and fallen in a pile it was practically solid. And walking on it on the trail was kind of like I imagine it would feel to wade through not-quite-set concrete.

As I made my slow and laborious way, it occurred to me that one feature I like about the woods by the airport is the length of the loops. So the shortest one we could take would still be longer than I would have really liked. But of course I would never dream of turning back. It's loop or nothing! So on we trudged (or I trudged; the dogs bounded). At least it was very pretty!

the dogs ahead of me in the snowy woods

beautiful and exhausting

(That's from one brief section of trail broken by a skier... the only place I had the energy to take out my phone for a picture.)

In trying to stick to the shortest way around I ventured onto a trail that I don't often take, and after a little ways found that it had disappeared. With the snow bending all the trees over everything looked so different! There was no going back, though, so since I knew the direction of the main trail we just pushed ahead between the trees. I could play up the drama, but really the woods aren't that big and I knew I'd come to a landmark I recognized before long; sure enough, after only five minutes or so of bushwhacking we were back on a recognizable trail—unbroken trail, of course, but at least I knew exactly where I was.

Only where I was was a section of the trail that's been ruined by 4-wheelers and is nothing but a series of muddy holes that in the spring resembles nothing so much as a World War I battlefield. It was warm enough that I had a moment of concern for the ice over all those holes (some of which held up to 18 inches of water less than a month ago...), but I was so tired I couldn't do anything but push ahead on the shortest path. The dogs shared my concern, or maybe they were just tired of breaking trail, because they waited for me to go first.

I did fall in once or twice, but it hardly mattered since I was so wet already from the snow and from sweat. And at the end of the treacherous holes I came across a section of trail that had been broken by someone on snowshoes, and soon after that passed two actual other humans. Civilization was near! In another few minutes we were back at the car, where we all collapsed. I had to catch my breath for a bit before I felt safe to drive.

It was exercise the likes of which I hadn't got for a long time, and today my body didn't let me forget it: my calves especially are absolutely killing me. Of course it didn't help that I went back to the same woods this afternoon with the boys to explore some new sledding hills... but that's a story for another day.


no day

After the blizzard before Christmas we've barely had any snow for over a month, so a storm forecast for Monday was big news. Details were uncertain, since apparently it was hard to tell where the rain-snow line would end up; so hour by hour the projected totals swung wildly. But it looked bad enough Sunday evening for the NWS to issue a winter storm warning beginning at 7:00 Monday morning, and the schools to call an early-release day. We were doing school too, at our house, and I thought early release would work for us too: we didn't even have to set an end time, since everybody's ride would be sticking around the whole time. But it's hard to hold firm when the forecasters are so excited, and at around 8:00 we decided to cancel for the day. It wasn't snowing yet, but we understood that it would start soon.

Well, it wasn't snowing at 10:00 either, when we were meant to have begun our day; nor at 11:00 when the boys and I biked over to Chip-In to pick up some emergency supplies (eggs, milk, and candy). A few flakes tickled our noses on the way home (and one hit Zion in the eye) but by the time we were done with lunch they were gone. At 2:00, when our school time officially ends, there was maybe a little snow mist in the air. At 3:00 it was snowing well, but barely accumulating. Not til 5:00 was there enough that you could start to shovel if you wanted.

It was a weird day, with all that waiting. I hadn't planned to do anything but school, cleaning, and cooking... and without school I just did the other two. The boys felt like it was a snow day, so they didn't want to buckle down to anything; but through the morning there wasn't much else to do. After lunch things did pick up a little bit with friends getting out of school, and then in the afternoon they managed to find enough snow that they came home pretty wet (and were rewarded with hot chocolate!).

At suppertime the snow started falling in earnest, and when we woke up this morning to well over a foot on the ground I had to concede that the forecasters knew what they were talking about when it came to the magnitude of the storm. The timing, though, they maybe didn't nail. Oh well. We can see our friends on Friday! Oh wait, there's rain and snow coming Friday?


my snow play

I was telling someone the other day how much I love shoveling out the path to the chicken house, especially in real cold weather. Do I like shoveling in general? they wanted to know. No, actually. I kind of resent having to do the driveway. You might expect that the difference is due to how much I love agriculture, but that's only part of it. Really, it's because I love snow. And shoveling to the chickens—or shoveling off the deck, or around the fire pit—feels to me like playing in the snow: creating a winter wonderland in the backyard around all the things that bring me joy. Shoveling out the car seems like trying to deny the existence of the snow so I can get back to regular life or having to run errands and things.

For the kids there's no such distinction. They can play and play in the piles in the front of the yard. I'm too dignified for that these days, but when nobody was looking I totally spent half an hour yesterday evening making snow stairs off the deck. And what are my paths around the yard but a way to play in the snow?! Sadly, today was a beautiful mild day. Delightful for walking in the woods, sure, but already my paths don't look so necessary. Oh well, I trust there will be more snow before too long!

bring on the snow!

All of us were excited last week to see the possibility of snow in the forecast for the weekend. It's winter! We love snow! On Friday the predictions had changed to mostly rain, but we still did our snow lesson in bubble school—and more importantly, made snowflakes! Those snowflakes have power, you know. And despite a rainy start to the day Saturday, the snow did manage to take over by late afternoon; a wet snow, but wintery enough that the boys were able to get out to build a snow fort. A small one, to be sure, but it counts!

Harvey and Zion lying down in a little snow fort

proportional to the amount of snow on the ground

That picture is from Sunday morning, by which point, following more rain overnight, everything had frozen completely solid.

While the bigger boys were constructing, Elijah was trying out his new skis, a hand-me-down from his school friends. He was actually the first one out on Saturday, so interested was he in getting them on his feet in actual snow. He took a couple loops around the yard then, and then a couple more Sunday morning. The terrain in the yard wasn't really as interesting as he wanted, but I at least though it was a fine place to start.

Elijah on his new cross-country skis in the yard

he wishes he had a hill

Then Monday we did sledding at school, and he got his hill; but by that point the snow was more ice than anything else and he felt that his control was a little lacking. So he joined the rest of us on the sleds and snow skates, and we all had a great time. A beautiful start to winter, and all thanks to those snowflakes!

Lijah holding up a paper snowflake, kids around him working on them

yay snow!


April snow brings... ?

As if this season weren't strange enough already—with everything cancelled, and days at home stretching endlessly while weeks rush by—on Saturday we woke up to snow falling heavily on the daffodils and forsythia (and, you know, everything else too). By mid morning there was a couple inches on the ground, and as we looked out the window the scene was decidedly not springlike.

snow covering the backyard

what season is it?

The first part of the morning we contented ourselves with board games, and the older boys might never have gotten motivated to get out in the snow had not Lijah taken the first steps. Even without a promise of anyone to play with, he was heading out.

Lijah in the snow in his snowsuit, wearing a big scarf

he knows what to do

It wasn't too long before Zion also got suited up and joined him, and they played for about an hour—climbing on the snowy playhouse, throwing snowballs and regular balls, and making snow angels. They got very wet. Harvey didn't make it outside until Jack invited him out; they missed the best part of the snow but seemed happy enough playing in the light misting rain that followed it. Once they got launched they all got plenty of enjoyment out of just those few inches of snow. Not as much, perhaps, as the first-grader who told me in our Kids Church session yesterday that he and his family had built a snow fort (!), put certainly enough. After all, it is April!

Almost all the snow was melted by dark. Today we were back to our regular spring programming.


snow day

We didn't get much snow this year. We only managed to go sledding two or three times, and one of those times there was literally no snow on the ground anywhere except the north-facing slope of the sledding hill. It was pretty disappointing. So naturally, on Monday—less than a week into spring—we had our biggest snow since mid-February. It wasn't a blizzard, sure, but it was certainly enough to notice.

snow falling as seen out the back door


Naturally, we took what advantage of it we could. As the snow started to stick we all went for a walk in the woods; only those members of the family who determined in advance to be grumpy even minded getting snowflakes in their eyes. Then on Tuesday morning the neighborhood kids all changed their homeschooling schedules to make sure of playing in the snow before it all melted away in the bright sunshine. There wasn't enough for a snowman, but there were definitely snowballs thrown. And I'll tell you, the snow gear doesn't get any less wet in one inch of snow than it does in 20—it certainly looked like a snow day inside the house!

the boys and Jack having a snowball fight in the front yard

I think they picked up all the snow there was

Our social distancing regime seems kind of like a blizzard-level snow day that's lasted for almost two weeks, with no end in sight. So it was nice to get some actual snow into the deal!


winter wonderland

We don't usually get good snow in December, so we were extra excited when, on the first of the month, wintery weather arrived ahead of schedule. The forecast for Sunday into Monday was uncertain, with the rain-snow line wavering back and forth somewhere over Lexington; as it happened it was well to the east of Lexington Center, and our precipitation was all snow. Then on Tuesday we had a second storm; it was predicted to be over by noon but kept going strong until late afternoon. There was a lot of snow. And we enjoyed it! On Monday the boys sledded with Grandma (in the sleety Lexington snow). On Tuesday they romped and wrestled and snowball fought with schooled friends who were enjoying a second straight snow day. And on Wednesday I got to join in with the sledding, as we traveled to enjoy some beautiful powder on a Chelmsford golf course.

Harvey standing on the hill with a sled

this is the life!

The winter weather was so beautiful that over the week I took almost a hundred and fifty pictures—more than I took in the whole month of November! (always a low month for photography, I find). Admittedly, 50 or 60 of them were burst mode pictures of the kids going off jumps on their sleds, but I also did my best to capture the winter's own artistry.

natural ice sculptures on the wisteria

ice art

Sadly, today was warm and rainy and the considerable snowpack is melting away almost faster than it accumulated just a week ago. Oh, I hope more falls soon. As lovely as our yard and our town are all the time, they're even better under a blanket of white!

the deck cleared of snow, with snow still piled high on the picnic table

I like it like this


first snow

It snowed last night, which felt right for the beginning of December. It started late afternoon, leaving Harvey and me with a pretty slippery drive home from Pokemon League, and kept on through the night; in the morning we were greeted with about 10 inches of heavy wet snow. The boys were excited to get out in it—especially Lijah, who hopped right into his new-to-him snowsuit and was first out the door by quite a while.

Lijah posing in his new snowsuit


Not that everything was joy. While there was enough snow to cancel school here in town, it was mostly rain closer to the ocean so I had to go to work. The boys were torn between going to my parents' house, as they usually do on Mondays, and staying home to play with friends (with Mama, who was working from home for the morning). I ended up deciding for them, and nobody was happy. Yes, Harvey got to play with Jack; but he ended up in a neighborhood snowball fight and as I understand it both gave and received some unkind blows. And Zion was bitterly angry to see, as we drove towards Lexington, the snow changing to rain, and he showed his displeasure with some unkind blows on the back of my seat with his feet. Actually, I shouldn't say nobody was happy; Lijah was completely content.

When Harvey arrived Grandma took the boys sledding. She says their impressions were mixed, but judging by their level of tiredness this evening they must have had a least a couple good runs. The only exercise I got was shoveling—the snow better stick around long enough for me to have some fun in it!