March 29, 2022

Whoa! There are some really good sticks out here!


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.


No man ever steps in the same river once.



This year has been unusual, and not only due to the persistence of the Covid pandemic.  Climate change has made the swing of weather, from one extreme to another, even more dramatic.  This winter has been marked by temperatures in the low 60℉s in January, followed in just a few days by temps hovering around 0℉.  Even for New England, this is unusual.  And that doesn’t count everything else meteorological that’s going on – wildfires, hurricanes, melting icecaps and glaciers and so on.  This should not come as any great surprise.  The average temperature of the Earth is now approximately 1.5℃ more than it was in preindustrial times, when the atmosphere was not filled by the products of carbon-based fuel consumption.

That doesn’t seem like much, just 1.5℃ (2.7℉).  I’m not even sure I could tell the difference if the temperature of the air I’m standing in increased by that much.  But because the atmosphere is so vast, it turns out to be one helluva lot of energy.  A 1.5℃ increase in the overall temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere is more than one hundred million times more energy than was released by the Nagasaki atomic bomb during WWII.  Granted, that energy is distributed over the entire planet.  But weather, caused by the movement of air, concentrates this energy, causing severe weather and wild changes in what weather we get – dryer spells in some places and flooding in others, for example.  And it is only going to get worse.  Much worse.

These swings in temperature have certainly added variety to the walks Waldo and I go on.  As noted in the recent blogs I’ve posted, freezing temperatures in snow and solid slabs of thick ice were replaced in four days by mud and running water in temperatures high enough I can comfortably walk in shirtsleeves.  Squirrels and rabbits hole up in their comfy dens and cannot be seen on the cold days and the air is quiet in the absence of the birds that don’t migrate south in the winter.  Then, just a couple of days later, small mammals can be seen everywhere and the air is filled with birdsong.  I wonder if those hibernating don’t get a little restless and confused.  Small buds have started to appear on the tips of maple branches and the green leaves of short weeds can be seen poking their heads up from underground on the warmer days.  Then the ground gets buried in eight inches of snow.  If it’s a bit confusing and disorienting to me and Waldo, think of what it must be like for the life that can’t ever get out of the weather.

The walks Waldo and I go on would be more difficult, for sure, in the days before the internet and smart phones.  For me, anyway.  Waldo, he takes it all in stride and is eager to get out and go in all weather.  Using weather apps, I’ve learned how to dress to be comfortable, in whatever weather Mother Nature throws at us, by looking at the hourly forecast of temperatures, winds and precipitation.  Before all these fancy electronic doodads were available, it would, at best, be a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess).  Things have been changing on a daily basis with such dramatic swings that I’ve had to check the forecast the night before and again a few minutes before we hit the trail to know what to wear.  Oh, to be a Waldo and live in a sable birthday suit.

Actually, the variety of weather has been nice.  The juxtaposition of these temperature and weather differences have created an entertaining catalog of phenonema, like the water flowing like a tadpole under a thin ledge of ice, or the light refracted by ice-covered tree limbs at night.  I pity those folks who have to deal with the wildfires, flooding and hurricanes, but I do enjoy the frequent changes in weather.  It sucks that there are seriously damaging consequences to what’s happening, though.

Today, the trail was slushy, with temps in the high thirties.  Tomorrow, it’s going to be icy, with a low of 7℉ and a high of 33℉.  The day after tomorrow, the forecast is for a high of 42℉, and the day after that, it’s supposed to be 60℉ and rainy.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ve seen the last of the deep snow.  What the weather brings doesn’t really matter, though.

Waldo and I will be on the rail-trail, just the same.


Even the COVID garden is climbing out from under the snow.

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