Monday, February 8, 2010


I love snow, truly I do. Good thing, too, having just come out of the fourth major storm in less than a year to hit Southernmost NJ, the third in just 8 days. And there's another one due as I post this.

In and of itself, snow is a miraculous thing, and the fluffy glittering stuff we have had recently is beyond beautiful. (Even pelleted snow is fascinating in its own right.) Blanketing my property, almost any kind of snow makes my relatively attractive acres magical. Here's how it looked on February 3, 2010, with ten or twelve inches topped by an additional three or four:

[part of my two-and-a-half acres]

[what's left of a tulip poplar seed pod]

[monkey balls! aka, sweet gum seed pods]

[another part of the yard]

I don't mind being out in it - properly dressed for a reasonable amount of time - whether to clear the walk or the bird feeders or just to marvel. Oh, to have snowshoes, though! Every successive storm seems to bring us a bit more snow than the one before. But who ever thought one would actually be able to use snowshoes, SNOWshoes! in southernmost New Jersey - and more than once in a year, never mind, say, once in a decade?

Luckily, I don't even mind driving in snow. One of the reasons I own a honking big truck is so I am able, if nothing else, to reach the state highway on which I live - I have a terribly long, unpaved drive, which blessedly keeps me well away from said highway - and to get about reasonably well once on asphalt.

(This photo is from a few years ago, but it shows how far off in the distance the road actually is. I can turn over 1/10 mile on my odometer from one end of the drive to the other.)

Although state highway or not - one of the few major roads into the county, period, or not - one winter they failed to plow after one of the deeper snows. Okay, so it was the last in a then-unprecedented number of storms that season and they likely ran out of funding by the time the "really big one" hit. But still… Even my Expedition (see the theme? My first car was also a pick-up truck…) had trouble with that one.

Hah, if only they knew what was in store a few years later…!

They hadn't been in any great hurry to plow after the first real storm to hit Southernmost NJ this season, either. This was the condition Saturday evening, January 30, 2010, of State Road 47, four hours into that particular blizzard. It hasn't helped that the recent storms have hit on weekends.

Ah, I underestimated the state and local highway departments… They learned their lesson with last week's "blizzard", and were prepared (on my way home from work, I passed a truck filled with salt and with plow down before any flurries had a chance to stick to the ground!) and plowing throughout the real blizzard this past weekend. The highway was cleared during and after the couple of feet of snow we received February 5-6th. Indeed, I could hear traffic moving quickly on it even on Sunday. But… But… But how was I supposed to get to the road this time?

Heck, how do I even reach my truck???

Sure, I have a 4x4. But the snow was up to her bumpers! (Ah, my poor little birch tree, that has survived years of its new growth turning spotted brown all season long when all the other birches in the yard have succumbed to disease… Flattened flatter than ever. *sniff* One main branch is definitely split; I haven't made it around the tree to free others.)

I love snow. Truly, I do. I really don't mind clearing the truck all that much, if I think of it as playing in the snow. I DO NOT, however, enjoy removing 13+ inches of it from off the top of The Great White.

Oh, there she is! Rats. Where I am supposed to put all of that - and still expect to be able to move the truck?

My next house will have a garage. A garage that will not be so filled with useless detritus (like my sheds-note the plural) that the truck has no room to rest in protected, snow-and-frost-free comfort.

I love snow, but these days I really, really hate clearing it off my truck.

Not that I could go anywhere once I did, because the entire length of the drive was still buried under 3 feet of the stuff. I was sinking to my knees and still not hitting bottom anywhere and everywhere I stepped. I knew I should have bought snow shoes right after last March's snowstorm! (Ooh, winter clearance sales! Perhaps I can still get some. Assuming it will stop snowing long enough to have deliveries made sometime before spring…)

Ah, but I have a secret weapon… One of my neighbors is in the earth-moving business. His backyard makes me think he had lots of TONKA trucks growing up. We're rural residential and they really aren't supposed to be there, but a great neighbor with a bulldozer and ever-increasingly snowy winters? I'll put up with the trucks; after all, it's the new house between us (that neither of us wanted) that has to look at them!

And so I chased down the neighbor (wishing for snowshoes all the way) after he cleared said mutual neighbor's drive and returned home. (Hmmph! Okay, so it was his brother doing the actual plowing. But then, they left me stranded the last big storm, as well... Time to pay the boys, I suppose. Gladly!)

Do I have to tell my boss I can get out now?

Hmm, with the drive taken care of, I really should get the gutters fixed…

Before those daggers - ok, more like swords; that's not a small window - of ice drop and hurt someone, or take out the bird feeding station that's almost directly below.

Speaking of dropping, the trees didn't fare so well with the first round of heavy, wet snow...

My poor, poor white pines! That particular one was *sniff* gorgeous. If they survive, they'll never be the same. And I think their falling branches took out a couple of dogwoods foolish enough to grow in their shadows. *sniff sniff*

Eh, those cedars needed topping before they came too close the lines anyway…

Those snowy mounds in the middle of the frame are my huge, unpruned and out of control, taller-than-I-am forsythias. "Were" my forsythias? How hardy are those things, anyway? Guess we'll find out.

My stout little pin oak is laughing at the snow-grabbing evergreens, still holding onto its own snow without a branch out of place to spite the lesser trees.

The shed is doing an even better job of hanging on to its winter blanket (although it has slipped a little).

I have a love-hate relationship with weather forecasts, but I should really learn to pay attention to the birds at the feeders. They know when bad weather is on the way. And the birds aren't the only ones to appreciate an easy meal once the snow is on the ground...

The doe and her fawn where there long enough to catch Cassie's and my attention, but Momma D bolted as soon as she realized a human was watching her. Her little one stayed a bit longer, and only reluctantly wandered off to follow her. I imagine she was under cover way in the back yard, bellowing at the kid to "shake a leg or I'm leaving without you!" (I love venison, but I like watching deer hoofing it around the place just as much as I like it on my plate. I still hold on to the hope I will see again the eight-point buck and his larger, deformed-rack friend who showed up before hunting season…)

I have been able to get out to keep feeders filled the past few days; ground feeding with so much snow around has been trickier. Not a good sign that the birds are hitting the feeders hard again, though. I'd like to think it's just because a flock of grackles has found out I'm a soft touch, but given the past week or two, I think I will not be so complacent.

Everyone stay warm and safe, and I'll be back when I can!