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Friday, January 15, 2010

WINTERS

composition in gray #16
adolph gottlieb


The temperature made it above 50 for awhile today and yesterday. A good bit of the ice melted, but on the shaded side of the mountains the ice will stay until after Sunday's rain. The cats don't even think about outside. What they see through the window is in the shadow of the house, white. That's all they care to know. It doesn't motivate me, either. Too many days of looking at the thermometer and it reading 11 degrees every time. It has been 10 years since I wore the heavy winter coat. It's been twice that long since we had a comparable snow. The people that want us to believe global warming is a political hoax are having a time in letters to the editor this winter. I doubt, however, they're buying beach front property.



It does seem odd to have this winter jump off the chart of patterns. I look back over my 33 years of winters in the mountains and can't say there are any real patterns except a gradual warming of the winters and summers. My early years here 90 was as hot as temperature reached in the summer. Now it's 100. As cold winters go, this one was a mild cold winter. Cold winters used to drop to 10 below the coldest nights. The Sparta Restaurant fire happened on one of those odd cold nights when it was 24 below. I sat by the wood fire all night long and kept the fire going. That's the coldest I've seen it. They said the water froze in the air when it left the hoses. This one didn't touch 0 yet.



What I've noticed is each winter has its own patterns of weather, like each individual has his/her own patterns of behavior, and they don't get really fierce except every once in awhile. That's the winter like this one that just bears down on us and keeps us down. It's 10 degrees less cold than patterns from before. Any way I look at it, this region of the Appalachians averages around 10 degrees warmer. These are not NOAA figures, just patterns I've seen over the last 33 years living in it without (I hope) too much self-delusion.



I've been hearing that calves have been dying all over the county this winter. An alarming number of them. The nature of this snow that turned to ice, almost holds, then doesn't, makes walking in the woods a chore. One thing about it, when you punch a hole in the ice with your foot, it holds your foot in place. Back beyond 20 years ago, I recall walking in snow that was well above my knees, the kind that's not fun to walk in. Winter is winter, each one unique. Summers too. One thing about it, the water table that has been a big concern is less a concern after this year.



I believe I've seen a balanced weather pattern, meaning a long period without much rain is followed by a rainy period that brings the water back. I recall a May without a drop of rain. From the start I'd heard the saying, Rain in May makes good hay. I was curious to see what the hay was like from a May without rain. A few years ago it didn't rain all the way through May. The hay was just as good as with rain. I'll have to ammend the saying: Rain in May or no rain in May makes good hay. May makes good hay no matter what the weather, indisputably.



Just now turned on the radio to see what was playing at the Rex Theater in Galax tonight, if something was playing besides basketball or a car race. It was an old-time band layin it to it. Good drive. Good banjo. Good fiddle. Good band all together. Buck Mountain Band out of Independence. Larry McPeak is playing guitar with them tonight, and now singing Tennessee Waltz. The fiddler, Bob Taylor, is from Oklahoma, a retired English professor, author of several Southern novels, and an accomplished student of old-time fiddle he started playing back in the 70s. Larry McPeak plays bass with the bluegrass comedy band The VW Boys out of Bristol. He's also one of the McPeak Brothers bluegrass band of Wytheville. He is one of the better respected musicians of our region, songwriter too. Amy Boucher, guitar of Appalachian Mountain Girls, is playing banjo and singing with the band.



Tomorrow night, Saturday, Ralph Stanley at Fairview Ruritan. Good weather projected for the drive up Hwy 18.



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