The Cutting Wind, The Blowing Snow

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Winter has arrived. It has come swiftly, suddenly, and with savageness.

October was, over all, a mild month. There was no bitter chill, and even days when the weather was unusually mild. Frost, this fall, came very late. So, as fall gave way toward winter it was mild weather leading into . . . what? Last winter was quite bitter, perhaps the most bitter in ten years. Was this mild fall a sign of a milder winter?

Well, maybe this winter won’t be so brutal as last winter. But mild it does not seem to be, and it is certainly here.

The first ominous signs that winter was indeed finally here to stay came last weekend, when the morning temperatures dropped down into the low double digits. (Fahrenheit, for any non USA readers.) However, early this week things warmed up a bit, making it up past 60 on two days. On Wednesday I was working outside in a long sleeved shirt. The weather was mild, partly sunny . . . nice.

Then Thursday came. I woke up that dark morning to the sound of wind howling outside, shrieking around the house. I go for a bicycle ride on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. My first thought on hearing the howl of wind was “I hope it isn’t too cold out there.” Then secondly, “That wind is going to make riding tough.” First thing downstairs I check the outside temperature. It’s in the mid twenties. I feel better about that. Wind in the mid twenties isn’t bad. Wind in the single digits is murder. I live in dread of the utter depths of winter when I may end up with mornings well into sub-zero temperatures. That happened last year. That is when biking gets really hard.

With a wind breaker and gloves, I didn’t freeze on my morning ride, but the head wind gave me trouble. It wasn’t a gentle breeze, but rather a gale force wind coming from the West. As I moved from one road to another, wind was alternately plastering me from one side, then the other, next pushing me from behind (that was nice) or gusting full in my face. If you’ve never gone riding a bicycle in the face of a strong head wind, you’ve no idea how much it can slow you down. At times it felt like I was slowed to a crawl, fighting to have any forward momentum at all.

Back home, I came inside most definitely awake, and quite . . . er . . . refreshed. It had been a hard ride, but overall I thought it wasn’t a bad way to start the day.

The wind did not let up as the morning progressed. If anything, it grew fiercer, and the air colder. Snow began to fall, whipping through the air. Around 10:00 AM, the electricity began to flicker. Then it went completely out. This was the first hint that Thursday was not going to be an ordinary day.

The power came back on about an hour later. I hoped there would be no more trouble with the power. I waited a little longer, then decided I could finally sit down and begin writing for the day. A half hour of writing later, the power suddenly cut out again, and I was treated to the horrifying sight of my text sucking of the screen into black oblivion. I have my word processor set to save every fifteen minutes, but fifteen minutes of lost writing is fifteen minutes too much.

So that was that. The wind was howling, and ever howling, the snow was flying, and it didn’t look like I was going to get any writing done. The only thing left to do was make the best of a bad situation and catch up on some reading. That is what I did all afternoon long. The power didn’t come back on for good until around five, and even then it was still flickering and browning out. There was no way I was going to risk losing any more work on the computer so I continued reading, switching from productive reading to entertaining reading. Snow continued to fall, and the wind continued to blow.

Thus winter came in with a bang. Mild and pleasant it is no more.

The wind continued to howl all Thursday night. It has died down some today, but this afternoon it began to snow again. Such a grim change from the warmth and sun of Wednesday. Winter has come, winter is here to stay, and what does this fierce arrival mean?

About the Author

At age fifteen, Rundy decided he wanted to write for his living. He is currently working on a novel, although it is not the novel he started at fifteen. When not working on the novel, he might be riding his bike, feeding his chickens, helping his neighbors, messing around with web design and computers in general, or writing on his blog, which discusses other topics in addition to gardening. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: fruits, vegetables, major landscaping, chickens and other poultry

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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