Valley Fog Tuesday, Nov 3 2015 

One of the oddities of the nearby river system* is that it can produce a heavy fog bank: warm water mixing with cold air, but limited to a single valley because it is also mixing with a another river branch which will generally have colder water.*

Consequently it isn’t uncommon to start out at a 1000 feet with clear blue sky, then see this ahead and below the next hill:

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Which will become this:

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And end up as this at 400 feet:

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Before clearing out completely in about three miles.

*It isn’t a valley: two main rivers, several minor rivers, four (technically five) reservoirs, and two distinct river types squeezed into a few miles.

*It really depends on how much water is needed and where.

Winter Ice Tuesday, Feb 10 2015 


The bare spot on the roof is actually caused by the wind, not a heat leak. Some of those icicles now touch the drift on the top porch, which is about three feet deep.


Note the almost entirely buried dormer windows on either side of the chimney. And for those that know the house, the drift on the lawn, which should be flat and at the level of the base of the yew.

How quickly things shift Saturday, Dec 20 2014 

Exactly six months ago, contrast this with the Norway spruce photo of a few days ago, or the one of the maple tree! One of the reasons that New England is so much fun is the dramatic seasonal shifts. The large Norway spruce, by the way, is just visible in the background of the right side in between two smaller trees (the right one is leaning noticeably). You are looking south, in the other picture you are looking east.


Must be nearly winter Tuesday, Nov 18 2014 

If all the scented geraniums and the jasmine and the citrus have been moved from beneath the south porch (an enclosed, but not insulated area) to various locations inside. This is a bit of project: we have four jasmine, one passionflower, three full sized geraniums in gallon pots, and multiple small ones, along with various other plants including a collection of baby citrus grown from seed (so who knows what they are, maybe Meyer Lemons maybe mini oranges, maybe?)

Most of these plants like a period of cold weather, but they can’t take an actual freeze. The area beneath the porch is ideal for a month/month and a half. If the interior basement door is kept open, this enclosed space can be kept above freezing as long as the true outside temperatures stay above 20 and the day was sunny. If not…on a night when it is windy and severe clear with a low in the teens, well it just isn’t good for things that can’t take an actual dip into freezing: i.e. the temperature of the leaf surface gets down to 32. Which weather usually occurs right about now!

But it is definitely nearly winter when the space is promptly given over to a frozen solid, aromatic*, grubby horse blanket that must get dried out before the next storm.

*I put it next to the furnace in the basement only once….the odor when drying is well, exactly what one would expect!

First Snow! Friday, Nov 14 2014 

About two fluffy, sticky inches likely to be gone by evening. Very pretty. (remind me of that in March…) Driving home from a meeting last night, just as it was turning from rain to snow, was gorgeous: cut crystals in the headlights.

What is distinctly odd about it though is that we actually have not had a killing frost yet. But I am glad that we spent time alternately mulching into the lawn and raking up leaves yesterday.  We are trying a new tactic on leaves this year. Instead of collecting them with the lawnmower, we are running the lawnmower with the leaf catcher attachment, but no bags, spreading the cut leaves far and wide as we go.*  There actually is a noticeable difference to the feel of the North Lawn* where we have done this: all those oak and magnolia leaves are back on the lawn in little pieces and it is definitely springier/softer, even in another year of nasty fall drought. The question is whether it will work with the denser ginkgo leaves, we shall see next spring.  It is much better than taking dozens of bags of leaves off the lawn each year.  Maybe it will even slow the appalling subsidence of the lawn!


*I am pondering whether the pipe could rotated a bit so it makes a better rooster tail and wider spread….

**The North Lawn is dominated by two full sized Black oaks, two Cucumber Magnolias (one at full size), a good sized Tulip tree, a mature ginkgo, and three young trees: elm, maple, and beech. There are A lot of leaves.

One ladybug, two ladybug, three ladybug, four Tuesday, Oct 14 2014 

(hundred or thousand or….)

The perils of autumn include ladybug swarms. This year they are in two spots: the south wall and the northwest corner.  It is the northwest corner which is most disconcerting, because they have gotten inside and seem to have an affinity for the library ceiling. Ladybug tea is unfortunate.

Thankfully, they aren’t too interested in the southwest corner of that section of the house, which is nice because ladybugs in bed are even more unfortunate.

It is not limited to this house, I was somewhat comforted by observing the inevitable swarms in the church tonight, which is down in the valley.  There, they seemed to be enjoying the northeast corner. I can’t imagine the numbers in the steeple!

Spring Sunday, Apr 13 2014 

I think we can safely call winter over…the peepers are finally going hard in Julie’s pond.  They started a few days ago in the pond across the road in East Meadow, but that pond is in nearly full sunlight and is fed by the regular seasonal water table rise.  Today, they have been going consistently all day in Julie’s pond, which is down in the woods and is spring fed.  It is, therefore, significantly colder than any other pond.

There is a wood duck pair down there as well, though I doubt they will nest…too much activity on the road.  The real question is whether I will see any baby salamanders swimming about down there this year.  I did last year, but only by pure chance.

Sloowllly Friday, Mar 14 2014 

Spring really is coming, despite high winds and almost zero last night (albeit with a lovely moon and stars).  The horse is shedding vigorously, the birds are contemplating nest building, and beneath the hydrangea next to the west stairs where there is SW exposure, heavy foundations, and little snow cover there are one or two crocus determined to come up.  I think there may also be some snowdrops coming up through the snow over under one of the hemlocks as well.

I have yet to get the three apple trees and the overgrown yew on the west lawn pruned into shape, an annual haircut that usually happens in February.  Maybe I’ll get to work on them tomorrow.

I did have lovely scramble through the woods this morning looking for a property line for the Land Trust.  It was about 12, overcast, and dead calm.  Excellent for the work, because half the line was in a swamp which is impassable in the summer.  It was frozen solid.  On the other hand… the other half was up one of those New England hillsides that is composed of rock falls and determined trees.  We were wishing for crampons at several points….the snow, like the swamp, was frozen solid, hard enough for a man to walk across, and icy.  Traction was minimal.  We came down a different route!

Snow and Mud Monday, Mar 10 2014 

I have a suspicion that we are going to have an actual mud season for once.

The sap looks like it is finally running out there for maple syrup.  A little later, by almost two weeks, than usual. Around here there is usually a brief run in January and then a consistent run from late February through March. Hard to say if anything decent will be produced.

Somewhere under the snow I suspect there are leucojum and galanthus (snowflakes and snowdrops) popping up and presumably crocus (if the voles haven’t eaten them all).  I really ought to go look at the south end of the west porch where there is a bunch right against a sunny stone foundation…

Mud Season Sunday, Jan 12 2014 

We should be having snow….not 55 F, several inches of rain, and partially frozen ground.  The end result is MUD. The end result of that is a certain furry member of the family taking full advantage of the MUD.

He should look like this:


He enjoys this:


Same horse…actually he was much worse looking today, the mud was about an inch thick.



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