Saturday, November 15, 2014

Scenes From The Start Of Winter in Vermont

I raked this section of my St. Albans, Vermont yard Thursday.
Friday morning, I woke up to this snow cover.  
This is totally arbitrary, but in my view, winter started here in Vermont Friday.

Oh sure, we had hints of it before today, some snow flurries, plenty of frosts. but it didn't amount to much.

Conditions outside always quickly rebounded to something that felt like classic autumn weather.

It's also true that we'll probably have some mild, sort of autumn like days before the heart of winter sets in, but Friday was the start, for sure.  

On Friday, though, you felt the hard cold, the hardening ground, the water turning to hard ice creaking us into winter.

I shouldn't have been surprised, of course. The first dusting of snow of the season, the first true cold, always arrives around mid-November in Vermont. At least in the "tropical" valley where I live. It's been winter in the Green Mountains for awhile now.  
A snow squall lumbers into St. Albans, Vermont,
near my home Friday afternoon. 

Thursday, I raked part of my lawn as dark grey clouds glowered overhead and the temperature started to drop. I swear I smelled snow.

Darkness fell early, as is the case this time of year, so I went inside and settled in for a late autumn session of doing the couch potato.

Around 9 p.m., it was time to take the dogs out for a walk. I opened the door and discovered it was snowing.

Pretty hard. Not a blizzard, for sure, but it was sticking.  The dogs stuck their noses into the snow and snorted. I'm not sure whether they were impressed or not.

I brought the dogs in, and went to bed, not wanting to think about winter.

I woke up Friday morning to a sort of winter wonderland. It wasn't exactly a Christmas post card, but there was almost an inch of snow clinging to everything out there.
The ground was still warm from fall, so the snow melted
from the lawn, but the deepening chill
kept the snow on shrubs and trees in my yard.  

Clinging to every branch on every tree. And every flower in the garden that had somehow managed to survive the autumn frosts until now.  

Friday afternoon, breaks in the clouds appeared, and the sun melted the thin skin of snow left over from Thursday night.

The ground was warm, too, from the lingering effects of the summer and autumn sunlight so a lot of the lawn had reappeared from the morning's snow cover. But the snow clung to the evergreens.

In the broad Champlain Valley below my house, I could see localized snow showers glinting golden in the low angled sun. The snow showers looked as if giant bags of whole wheat flour  were being dumped here and there.

Despite the occasional sun, the temperature dropped all Friday afternoon. I climbed the stairs to the back deck so I could retrieve the planters. All summer, flowers graced the deck, inviting us outside for a drink.  
As the winter chill deepened on Friday, it was
 time to remove these flowers from the deck planters.  

Now, the plants were skeletal ruins, done in by the cold. The stairs were icy. I had to be very careful. The invite to enjoy the deck was officially withdrawn. By winter's arrival.

I dumped the soil from the planters into the edge of the garden and put them away. Another item checked off my end of season list.

I turned to the three big poplar trees in the back yard.

There wasn't any snow under them, but there was a jumble of broken branches and leaves under the trees that had to be cleaned up. The frozen leaves and branches crackled under foot.

My hands got cold, despite the warm gloves I was wearing. I turned by attention to some piles of dirt that had to be moved.

As I shoveled, it got dark, early as is customary this time of year.  That's why I have a headlamp. As the world darkened around me, the cold deepened. Dense clouds of steam from my breath swirled in the headlamps' light, more intense than the weak steam you get during some of the more damp days of October.  
The sun set in a cold looking sky as winter seemed
to arrive for good Friday in St. Albans, Vermont.  

One of the perks of working on your own property, rather than somebody else's, is you can have one or two or even three beers as you're working.

So I cracked open a beer, but as always, I got distracted by the task at hand. When I returned to the beer, awhile later, the foam was frozen. Another sign of winter.

I noticed the tops of piles of dirt that I was working around started looking dry. They were freezing, not drying out.

I was getting cold.  The lights were on in the house, which made it look warm and inviting. I decided to call it a day.

As always, my fall tasks were never fully completed. But winter is on its own schedule, not mine. It's supposed to snow, maybe a few inches on Monday. It's forecast to stay wintry cold all next week.

Perhaps by some miracle there will be one last gasp of warmth at the end of the month so I can get more done outside. But I'm not counting on it.

Winter always has the last word. Unfortunately, I often don't like winter's biting words.

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