Tag Archives: weather

Blizzard warning!

Tonight there’s a scary-beautiful conflagration of low pressure and high cold air that will bring us 20″ of spring snow and 50 mph winds by early morning. The storm will intensify over the Gulf of Maine and bring even higher winds to the Nova Scotia reaches, scouring the highlands and dumping 2′ of snow along the way.

But isn’t it pretty? That’s us – right between the huge gray high and the Buddhist monk orange low.

Blizzard warning

Time to go fill the teakettle and grind some coffee before the power goes out. Stay warm, everyone!

 

Garden Movie (the trailer)

Maine is an extraordinary place to garden. The seasonal extremes are right on the edge of survival for many common edible plants with a daylight range of 6.5 to nearly 18 hours and temperatures from minus 15  to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The visual evidence of the garden changes dramatically from bare ground and branches, to 3 – 5 feet of snow cover, back to brown and then an explosion of bright green starting in May. To capture some of this process I began taking a photo a day this spring, focusing on exactly the same spot from the same location. I plan to knit them together into a little animated garden movie. (The plot won’t be much but the acting is terrific.) I won’t have time for the project till winter sets in, but meanwhile – here’s the first photo from April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013And here’s the same view on Saturday, June 15. The road is now only visible when I catch a car going by.

June 15, 2013What a difference a few hours daily gain of sunlight can make!

 

New bees

We drove up to Abnaki Apiaries on Wednesday night to pick up two “nucs” (nucleus hives) of Bob Egan’s Maine bees. The weather nicely cooperated by not pouring rain so hard that we couldn’t see, and the non-highway part of the trip was very scenic. We arrived at 8 pm and it was still light enough to chat with the Egans and admire the piles of varied color nuc boxes under the huge old maple trees and lilacs in the front yard. Then we loaded Mr. Pink and Mr. White (with apologies to Quentin Tarantino) into the back of the Honda and headed home with @ 16,000 bees.

Meet Mr. Pink:

Nuc o bees

That picture was taken the morning after we brought them home. I popped the screens off and they’ve been free to fly around the garden (during breaks in the torrential rain) since Wednesday.

two nucs in the garden

 

The next step is to transfer the four frames full of bees from the nucs to the full hive boxes, but that may have to wait till we have sun on Tuesday – when I have to be back at work. Good thing R is now interested in beekeeping AND self-employed.

The garden continues lush and green under 3″ of rain a day for a week:

rainy garden

Blizzard flag

There’s a blizzard warning up for our neighborhood come Sunday. I feel badly for R., who spent the day after a hospital stay plowing in blizzard conditions last weekend, and must be thinking about doing it again. He generally knows the storm is coming long before the rest of us. Here’s the broadcast transcript from the NWS:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CARIBOU ME
425 PM EST FRI FEB 15 2013

MEZ002-005-006-011-015>017-029>032-161015-
/O.COR.KCAR.BZ.A.0001.130217T1100Z-130218T0800Z/
NORTHEAST AROOSTOOK-NORTHERN PENOBSCOT-SOUTHEAST AROOSTOOK-
CENTRAL PENOBSCOT-SOUTHERN PENOBSCOT-INTERIOR HANCOCK-
CENTRAL WASHINGTON-COASTAL HANCOCK-COASTAL WASHINGTON-
SOUTHERN PISCATAQUIS-NORTHERN WASHINGTON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...PRESQUE ISLE...CARIBOU...VAN BUREN...
MARS HILL...MILLINOCKET...EAST MILLINOCKET...PATTEN...MEDWAY...
HOULTON...HODGDON...SHERMAN...SMYRNA MILLS...LINCOLN...HOWLAND...
SPRINGFIELD...BANGOR...BREWER...ORONO...OLD TOWN...AMHERST...
AURORA...DEDHAM...EASTBROOK...GREAT POND...ORLAND...DEBLOIS...
GRAND LAKE STREAM...MEDDYBEMPS...PEMBROKE...PERRY...PRINCETON...
ELLSWORTH...BAR HARBOR...BLUE HILL...EASTPORT...MACHIAS...
CHERRYFIELD...DOVER-FOXCROFT...MILO...GUILFORD...DANFORTH...
VANCEBORO...TOPSFIELD
425 PM EST FRI FEB 15 2013

...BLIZZARD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE
SUNDAY NIGHT...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CARIBOU HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD
WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE
SUNDAY NIGHT.

* LOCATIONS...NORTHEAST...EAST CENTRAL AND DOWNEAST MAINE.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...POTENTIALLY RANGING FROM 4 INCHES OF SNOW OVER
  FAR NORTHEAST MAINE UPWARDS TO 10 INCHES OF SNOW ACROSS SOUTHEAST
  DOWNEAST MAINE.

* TIMING...SUNDAY MORNING THROUGH MOST OF SUNDAY NIGHT.

* TEMPERATURES...13 TO 26.

* WINDS...NORTH 20 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 TO 55 MPH...WITH
  THE STRONGER WINDS AND WIND GUSTS IN PROXIMITY TO THE DOWNEAST
  COAST.

* VISIBILITIES...ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES.

* IMPACTS...POTENTIALLY HIGH TO EXTREME...WITH SEVERE BLOWING AND
  DRIFTING SNOW POSING THE GREATEST HAZARD WITH THIS EVENT RATHER
  THAN HEAVY SNOW RATES AND VERY DEEP ACCUMULATION WITH FALLING
  SNOW. SNOW AND STRONG WINDS WILL CREATE VERY HAZARDOUS TRAVELING
  CONDITIONS. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WILL LIKELY CAUSE FREQUENT
  WHITEOUT CONDITIONS WITH VISIBILITY NEAR ZERO.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A BLIZZARD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR FALLING AND/OR
BLOWING SNOW WITH STRONG WINDS AND EXTREMELY POOR VISIBILITIES.
THIS CAN LEAD TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AND MAKE TRAVEL VERY
DANGEROUS. STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR YOUR FAVORITE
SOURCE OF WEATHER INFORMATION FOR THE LATEST UPDATES. ADDITIONAL
DETAILS CAN ALSO BE FOUND AT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/CAR.

&&

Blizzard cookies

The wind is beating on the metal roof and the falling snow is so cold and fine that we had tiny drifts under the steel framed front door this morning. It’s a good time to make cookies: baking at 350 degrees F will help heat the house and I can’t run the oven after the power goes out, which is inevitable with 50 mph gusts in the forecast.

Blizzard Cookies

These cookies are based on the “Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie” recipe on the Quaker Oatmeal box top. My family likes to add walnuts and chocolate chips, so I’ve made adjustments to accommodate the extra dry ingredients and left out half the butter. The result is a higher, “cakier” cookie that stores well and is perfect for lunchboxes.

 

 

“Cakey” Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 3  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 3  cups uncooked oats (Irish, commerical “quick oats”, traditional long-cooking, it doesn’t seem to matter)
  • 1  cup raisins
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Put away the mixer and add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well by hand. Add oats, nuts, chips, and raisins; mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets or Silpats. The Quaker Oats recipe specifies ungreased surfaces, but that can be a problem using only half the fat of the original recipe.
Bake 10 -12 minutes (my oven needs 12) or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

In the gloaming

I have a post nearly finished about Sunday’s hive inspection, but I was out in the garden tonight and it was so beautiful that I took dozens of photos. The combination of a wet spring (groundwater tables are finally above drought levels) and my 2012 resolution not to mow or weed-whack where it wasn’t absolutely necessary has produced a really lush environment, especially for Maine.

The valerian jungle hasn’t quite spread to the entire yard, but it’s a near thing.

valarian fields forever

This is a very photogenic patch of Fedco’s “Freedom” lettuce mix.

Freedom!

The view down the south hill, with newly clipped withy and a row of elecampne in front of the bog garden.

withy in the gloaming

Red oakleaf lettuce growing through garlic and chives.

garlic forest

The view out back, into the alpine garden.

alpines

Your weekly Owl

I’ve noticed an uptick in Social Capital Owl costume changes lately. Maybe it’s the bustle of the summer starting up (out-of-state license plates have been seen on the road already) or it could be that the Owl is just more accessible now that the snow drifts have melted. Three weeks ago we had Mardi Gras Owl whose gauzy lime butterfly wings were sadly battered by a rain and wind. Someone carefully removed all the finery and left it in a plastic shopping bag on my front stoop for safekeeping and for a few days the Owl wore a nice wool scarf. Then, to mark Thursday’s record breaking high temperature of 80 degrees F (!!) another anonymous Owler duct taped on a pair of sunglasses. And here you have it – a totally appropriate commentary on our coldest/hottest spring ever:

Future's so bright, I have to wear shades.

The 7% solution

Did you know that only 7% of us in the US don’t use an electrical appliance to dry  our laundry?

A and J at the bungalow, S. Portland, 1992

After thinking about it, I couldn’t say that 7% of us technically use a “clothesline” because I can only hang laundry outside for 1/3 of the year. When it’s cold and damp (easily 2/3 of the year) we have an Amish “finger” contraption that hangs on the wall by the woodstove. Growing up my son referred to it as the “clothes toaster” which is fairly apt – when the tiny woodstove is going full bore it only takes about 20 minutes to dry a rack of laundry.

I love it when I can hang a full load of laundry (or two, or three) outside on the line. Yes, the texture of line-dried towels is a little rough, but soon enough the dryer version begins to feel a little slimy. I have nothing but sympathy for folks who have no place to string a line indoors or out but for the rest of us – get with the new program! Your clothes will last longer, and so will the ozone layer.

There’s even a handy website (when is there not?) to get started with facts and hints: Project Laundry List. See you out in the yard on the next nice day!

Sparky

I dug a hole in the lower garden this weekend, and this is what I got.

Load 16 tons, and what do you get. . .

We moved here twenty years ago and started gardening as soon as we could fell some trees, but we have neighbors who have been at it almost twice as long. When I asked R.A.T. (who has beautiful gardens and fruit trees with C., his wife) what kind of soil I could expect to find on my lot he thought for a minute and said, “Sparky”. I had no idea what he meant but later that summer when I boot-heeled a spading fork into a future raised bed and nearly started a forest fire scraping the metal against the granite,  I got it. We don’t have dirt here, we have flint and tinder.

Yeah, good luck getting this one out.

I’ve hauled a lot of seaweed in the last twenty years – pickup truck loads of the stuff, first loose in the back of the truck and later packed into recycled contractor bags as I realized what the salt and sand did to my truck. Also leaves, sand, gravel, horse manure, bales and bales of hay, piles of pine needles, composted bio-soils, wood chips and lately, other people’s yard waste and branches as I’ve adapted to the practices of permaculture. I can actually grow things now but that doesn’t mean there’s any fewer rocks, large or small.

Extra large family size over compensating rock.

Rocks can occasionally be a positive element in the garden, especially in poor soil. I was weeding the strawberries during this last gasp of summer-in-November and found the plants had spread furiously under and around the rocks holding down the landscape fabric meant to suppress weeds. I stood there for a while and considered the situation. The strawberry plants loved those rocks, perhaps because they conserved moisture and regulated temperature changes? The landscape fabric certainly wasn’t doing anything to suppress weeds, and I have a lot of rocks. Why not make the plants happy? The strawberry bed went from this:

Argghhhh, mass strawberry attack.

to this:

Order out of chaos. Sweet, sweet order.

If nothing else, it will be easier to step into the middle of the bed to pick the fruit, and it can’t be any worse at weed suppression than the landscape fabric. Prettier too, and I find that counts for a lot in the garden.