Posts Tagged ‘cold’


March 8, 2018, New England. Beaten-down dogwood blocks the back steps.

After the blogger behind Jnana’s Red Barn posted 10 things he liked about March, I thought, “Wow! What a challenge!” New Englanders often find it hard to think of even one good thing about March. Winter hangs on and hangs on and hangs on, the snow no longer seems magical, and activities get canceled that you thought for sure you would be able to do in March.

Could I possibly think of 10 good things? I knew it would be good for me to try.

1. Daylight. I definitely like having more daylight.

But although I thought about Jnana’s challenge for days, daylight was the only thing I could think of that I liked about March.

Should I mention how quiet it is at Suzanne and Erik’s house when they take the family off for March vacation? (I stay at the house when I volunteer in Rhode Island.) It’s much more entertaining when the grandchildren are there, but quiet can be nice once in a while, and I’ll never get to 10 if I don’t include this.

2. A quiet house.

A couple items are comparative — that is, they start to happen a lot more in March.

3. More walks in the woods.

4. More sightings of neighbors.

Once I got this far, I began to think it might be possible to get to 10.

5. The first spring flowers.

6. Four young cousins playing at my husband’s birthday.

7. Decorating Easter eggs.

8. John and Suzanne planning their two families’ New Shoreham summer.

9. Irish music by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

10. Return of the redwing blackbirds.

Yaay! I’m feeling more positive already. How about you? Can you find 10 things you like about March?



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Saturday was a day for hawks. I saw one on the highway as I drove home from John’s and then another one just a little farther along. Each was perched on a high limb, scanning the road and the verge for lunch. A third hawk, in the center of town, dove after a small bird, but being intercepted and stunned by a fast-moving car, wheeled back to land on a parked vehicle, catch his breath, and pose for photos.

I wondered why the hawk was hunting in such a heavily populated area. It must be hard to find food in this weather.

Fortunately, I had bought my camera, having decided that I don’t get enough pictures for the blog if I give in to the cold and take my daily walk indoors. There aren’t many photo ops when you go ’round and ’round from the hall to the living room to the dining room to the kitchen … .

If any reader knows what type of hawk this is, I’d appreciate being enlightened.


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In high school, I had a small part in Thorton Wilder’s play The Skin of Our Teeth. As arch and self-conscious as it is, there are phrases that stick with you for your whole life. Even my sister remembers phrases, and she wasn’t in it. One of my brothers had a small role in a different production and remembers the ad-libbing part where a key actor supposedly has fallen ill, and the stage manager and all the cast and crew come out on the stage, and one of the ad-libbers says, “It must have been the chocolate matzohs.”

Among the phrases that stick for a lifetime are: “We came through the Depression by the skin of our teeth. One more tight squeeze like that, and where would we be?” and “Pray God nothing happened to the Master crossing the Hudson River!” and “Sabina, you let the fire go out!” and “The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks!”

The dogs were sticking to the sidewalks because there was an Ice Age going on, complete with woolly mammoths. … I know.

Anyway, there are those of us who to this day express how cold it is by exclaiming, “The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks!” It’s that kind of weather in New England lately. Suzanne’s family went skiing in New Hampshire near Mt Washington when I saw on twitter that the temperature at the top of the mountain was minus 81 degrees. That’s what my husband calls Type 2 Fun, the kind of fun that is only fun in retrospect, when you can tell the story.For more on The Skin of Our Teeth, click here. And here is one of my more recent wintry photos. Sunny but bitterly cold.011114-tree-branch-Concord

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I lived in Minnesota for a few years, so I really shouldn’t make a big deal out of cold weather, but it sure has been hard to pry myself from a warm building this week.

Today I went out to take a picture of salt water starting to freeze in Fort Point Channel, something I hadn’t seen before. I got a bonus for my effort — a colorful bubbly sculpture in a tree in front of the Children’s Museum. Was the nearby Boston Tea Party Museum throwing its bales of tea into the channel as usual? Probably the tea would have bounced right back.

The flowers are by the wonderful landscaper in the building where I work. They make you feel like you are in a greenhouse (“växthus” if you are Swedish or have a bilingual grandson).

Note the weather outside the window.

Update 2/6/14. Today the ice in Fort Point Channel, covered with snow, reminds me of chicken fat when you take homemade soup out of the fridge. I added the photo up top.





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Portland, Maine, has a reputation for being welcoming to immigrants and refugees. As a result, newcomers have been giving back, taking seriously their training in how to start a business, for example, hiring people, and boosting the city’s economy.

In this story by Jess Bidgood at the NY Times, we learn about Portland’s “class intended to help immigrants from warm countries cope with the cold.”

Bidgood writes about newcomers “squeezed into a plain conference room at the city’s center for refugee services … to be schooled in a central piece of Portland’s cultural curriculum for its growing population of new arrivals, many of whom are asylum-seekers from Central Africa: the art of handling a Maine winter.

“The instructor, Simeon Alloding, a human services counselor here, sat at the front of the room, ticking off winter’s many perils as clip art images of a penguin and an elephant decked out for cold weather hovered in a PowerPoint presentation behind him. ‘Everyone here has fallen, right?’ Mr. Alloding asked as he began a discussion on how to navigate the city’s icy sidewalks. ‘You don’t walk too fast, you don’t take long steps.’ …

“On this slushy morning, there were more attendees than could possibly find seating, and late arrivals clustered around the entrances to the room, many still wrapped in winter coats and hats despite the stifling heat of the room.”

The refugees help each other with translation, but some questions are hard to answer, like how to know what tomorrow’s weather might be.

“Miguel Chimukeno, from Angola, rose to ask a question in Portuguese, which another student translated to French, which the French interpreter, Eric Ndayizi, posed to Mr. Alloding.

“ ‘He’s low income — zero income — and you said they should watch TV and know some information. How does he get TV?’ Mr. Ndayizi asked.

“ ‘There’s nobody that’s going to issue out TV’s,’ Mr. Alloding said. ‘My only suggestion is that you talk to your neighbors.’ ”


Photo: Craig Dilger for The New York Times

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