Tag Archives: Snow

Well, Who Said February Would Be Easy?


Cardinal as snow falls on Feb. 1.

Cardinal as snow falls on Feb. 1.

Winter staged a dramatic comeback in these parts Sunday. It began Saturday with several hours of rain in the afternoon that transitioned, well after dark, to slushy snow.

Sunday was all about the snow. It blew and fell all day, and the day began fairly nicely in the 20s but the temperature steadily declined as the day went on. It was a day of shoveling and playing (briefly) with grandkids under a grey sky and occasional flakes.

Grandson enjoys the snow Sunday. Not sure it would be as much fun today--a much brighter day, but also much colder.

Grandson enjoys the snow Sunday. Not sure it would be as much fun today–a much brighter day, but also much colder.

Today was shovel day, the sequel. I am glad I shoveled once mid-day Sunday—the snow, since it had a slow transition from wet to white, was of the heavy kind on Sunday, with an icy layer underneath. It was heavy labor to move.

Monday’s shoveling, since Sunday’s had been done, was not as bad—the snow a bit lighter, maybe 3 inches or so to move—while Sunday I shoveled 7 or 8 inches.

I’m not done with shoveling yet, since I haven’t done the path to the back or the back deck. I don’t like to leave snow on the deck, mostly because I’m worried that if it melts there, some will come into the back door, but it’s not urgent to clear that snow right after it falls.

It was a bit disappointing to watch the early morning news on Channel 9 today, as both my wife and I were waiting for the M listings. Kirkwood had called it off, as had all local public school districts—would Mount Mercy toss in the shovel and call it a day?

Nope.

Grumble, grumble. But after breakfast, before I left for work, I put seeds in the bird feeders. And the early morning sun was riding in a clear blue sky and reflecting off the white coat that draped over the landscape. It was bitterly cold and beautiful all at the same time, and with chilled fingers (had to take gloves off to use the camera) I shot a few images. Here are some snow scene from Sunday. And here are some from today, Monday. Note how bright and pretty Monday turned out to be.

Warde Hall on Monday morning--blue sky, white tree. Sadly, it's an ash, so it wont' be here forever, but it looks pretty this morning.

Warde Hall on Monday morning–blue sky, white tree. Sadly, it’s an ash, so it won’t be here forever, but it looks pretty this morning.

It was the same on campus. I made it to MMU OK, the streets were snow packed but passable in town, and I even made it up the slick hill to the Warde Hall parking lot. Thank you, Rodrigo the Montego (so named by my youngest daughter, who owned the car for a while before passing it on to her parents).

Sculpture with shadow and snowy background, Feb. 2, 2015, near Warde Hall, Mount Mercy.

Sculpture with shadow and snowy background, Feb. 2, 2015, near Warde Hall, Mount Mercy.

I had to scramble to prep for my 10:30 a.m. class—it was already pushing 9 a.m.—but still I paused to shoot some photos. The morning light in the blue sky on the white snow was too tempting. It was just too pretty to pass up, a true winter wonderland.

OK, I’ll try to shut up now and join in the griping.

@@&**% winter. Ain’t it grand? (Oops. Sorry.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Weather

So What’s A Warm Saturday For, Anyway?


Bridge on a bike trail in Marion, Iowa. It was a pretty, sunny, warm day today in Iowa. Snow tomorrow.

Bridge on a bike trail in Marion, Iowa. It was a pretty, sunny, warm day today in Iowa. Snow tomorrow.

I spent part of the day indoors today, because I had to get some papers graded, but I was lucky to have two outings.

In the morning, I rode my winter beater bike, an old Schwinn mountain bike, to the gym and for a brief trail ride.

But the true fun was this afternoon. My wife had some errands to run, so I stayed home grading papers. She suddenly popped in the door, announced she was meeting some grandkids at the park, and did I want to come?

Well, I’m under the weather, just a bit. I have a cold. And I did have lots of work to do, but …

The sun was shining. The temperature was rising above 45 degrees. My wife had told a grandson just a few days before that it was always too cold to play at a park if the temperature was below 45, but that explanation just didn’t hold up today. So away I went.

Me on a ride-on bee with Amelia. Later, she would be a princess and a dragon would abscond with her on the same bee, but that drama has not started yet.

Me on a ride-on bee with Amelia. Later, she would be a princess and a dragon would abscond with her on the same bee, but that drama has not started yet.

The park interlude was a blast. Among other things:

  • The ladder-slide area became a castle and my daughter transformed into a dragon who, along with the assistance of her minion, my grandson, kidnapped a prince and planned to cook her. They rode off on a giant bee, but never seemed to get anywhere.
  • A snowball war broke out. My wife isn’t sure whether she or my daughter instigated it, but they are the prime suspects. Some icy snow was left in little piles here and there, and my daughter, wife and grandson spent a fair amount of time chucking it at each other or me. Watch out for that grandson. He has an arm.
  • The merry-go-round was a very popular item—and grandpa (me) had the honor of supplying most of the power. One young granddaughter would yell “faster, faster,” until, a few seconds later she would yell “I need to get off.” Despite my cold, I did get some exercise today.

Well, what a fun afternoon. I don’t know how many sunny, warm Saturdays there will be before March, but we put this one to good use.

More park scenes--my daughter and wife attack me with snowballs. Below--youngest of the four siblings at the park like merry-go-round

More park scenes–my daughter and wife attack me with snowballs. Below–youngest of the four siblings at the park like merry-go-round

a31

Finally, just because I can, I bought some flowers for my wife, who just returned from a trip to England. I liked how the morning sun streaming in the dining room window lit the bouquet, so I photographed it, and it seems a nice foreshadowing of the coming spring that is only a few weeks away:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flowers, Grandchildren

First Snow Reminds Us of Skills to Relearn


Cardinal eyes me through office window as I finish editing this post.

Cardinal eyes me through office window as I finish editing this post.

A spent rose in snow.

A spent rose in snow.

Well, snow has come to Iowa in mid-November. It’s not a huge surprise—we’ve had trick-or-treating delayed by snowstorms before, but seems a bit early, partly because we are in the midst of several weeks of January-like temperatures that are a bit of a shock to the system.

I had a daughter from out of town who wisely cancelled a visit Saturday, as snow flakes began filling the air in late afternoon. We went to Mass Saturday night, and it was a bit treacherous out—a reminder to get back into the winter driving groove. Watch the speed. Brake or accelerate gently and early. Watch out for all the other Iowans who aren’t in the winter driving groove yet.

Plant hook, sans plant, with snow.

Plant hook, sans plant, with snow.

After Mass, we headed down to Mount Mercy. I had forgotten my piano book, and don’t want to go a whole weekend without practice. Getting to my office proved more interesting than expected, because it seemed almost every street or entrance to the MMU campus was blocked by a car that could not make it up a hill or by a fender-bender accident. The Gazette this morning said there had been more than 150 police calls last night for minor crashes, and I think about 1/3 of those were within a block of Mount Mercy. Students, stay in your dorms. I finally managed to park in the lower Warde Hall lot (drive to upper lot blocked).

And then I had a moment of panic in my office—I could not find the book. My wife was waiting for me in the car, and I was just a bit worried—what if, by chance, I had slipped the piano book into my briefcase and had simply forgotten it was there, and our risky drive to campus and adventure in finding a way in was for naught?

Lanterns.

Lanterns.

Then, I spied it. All was well in the world. I could slip down the hill, piano book in hand.

Today began, unsurprisingly, with the shoveling of the snow. It wasn’t  too bad. Luckily the snow was fairly light for this time of year—the risk is that when it’s fairly warm, you’ll get heavy, wet snow. Well it wasn’t mid-winter powder, but it was dry enough that the 2 inches or so weren’t that backbreaking to move.

And, after that, I took a few photos.

The first snow is usually the prettiest. We may not yet remember yet how to drive in snow, but the Mercury I was piloting Saturday proved itself a pretty winter-hardy car. And I for one am not yet bored with the brown and white landscape.

Norway maple. Should feel at home, right?

Norway maple. Should feel at home, right?

Not that I won’t prefer the pretty greens and colors of spring. But the early Christmas lights looked right at home.

In Iowa, for now, winter is here.

Dogwood.

Dogwood.

aa01

Crab apple.

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden

10 Signs That Spring Is Indeed Here


Spring break! How sweet it is. In fact, I have to grade some speech proposals in the morning, so I don’t get to forget the semester for long—but once that one batch of grading passes, I plan to take the weekend off, something I have not done since Christmas.

Those who don’t teach don’t realize how often it morphs into a 7-day-a-week death march during busy times, and how some semesters, “busy times” seems to describe more weeks than not. But, as those with “real” jobs might assert, not everyone gets summers off, or a spring break, either.

Fair enough. And the weather next week will make it feel more like late winter break, I’m afraid. Still, despite the chill coming in the next days, our hemisphere is committed now to facing the sun, and spring is inevitably, ever so slowly, oozing Old Man Winter out the door.

And here, in photos, are 10 signs of spring:

1) Flowers that bloom in the spring tra la! Not mine, but I had something to do with them. My wife and I and our two area daughters bought a bunch of fall bulbs which were planted in gardens in our three yards. In one, a grandson who was “helping” dropped some crocus bulbs into a window well. Apparently the micro-climate in that sunny well is zone 6 or so, because that’s where, early this week, the daughter saw buds appear which are now flowers. These are cell phone images the daughter texted to me (I took all of the other spring photos). She was pretty excited. She wins–first flowers.

The crocus Thursday or so, in bloom.

The crocus Thursday or so, in bloom.

The crocus in the window well earlier this week, budding.

The crocus in the window well earlier this week, budding.

2) Daffodils at MMU. Not blooming, but just starting to knife through the soil around the reflecting pool at Our Lady of Sorrows Grotto.

Daffodils poked through the cool soil on the shores of the MMU grotto pond.

Daffodils poking through the cool soil on the shores of the MMU grotto pond.

3) Young men growing in the reflecting pool. No, not really, the pool, now ice free, being drained for spring cleaning.

MMU facilities worker draining pond for spring cleaning.

MMU facilities worker draining pond for spring cleaning.

4) A bike (mine) in a bike rack at Warde Hall. The rack had been closed by a giant mound of snow shoveled there from a nearby walk. As you can see, the snow is not totally gone, but gone enough that the rack has emerged from winter hibernation.

My bike by receding glacier near Warde Hall, MMU.

My bike by receding glacier near Warde Hall, MMU.

5) Grandkids playing at a park. Finally it’s sunny and warm enough to do that. Then again, we do sled at this same park during the winter, but it’s not the same …

He will soon shoot down slide on his own. She will insist that I catch her, but she is the Overlord and I am one of her many minions.

He will soon shoot down slide on his own. She will insist that I catch her, but she is the Overlord and I am one of her many minions.

6) Grandkids who insist they walk home with me rather than ride with mom in the van. Shown is the Overlord, with her siblings in the background. Good for her, her older sister and her brother for walking, but bad for me. I ended up carrying the Overlord for quite a distance. Still, it was fun to be out walking.

Happy spring walk.

Happy spring walk.

7) Dry Creek, seen from the Boyson Trail. So much snow has melted that the creek, isn’t dry, but it isn’t frozen either, and that’s new.

The world is brown, but at least it isn't white anymore. And green is coming, we can tell.

The world is brown, but at least it isn’t white anymore. And green is coming, we can tell.

8) Some seeds sprouting indoors. My Chia gnome in my MMU Warde Hall office. Don’t judge me. It was a gift. The spring sunshine in the office is enough to aid sprouting that makes Mr. gnome look rather scruffy.

There's no beard like gnome.

There’s no beard like gnome.

9) Ebony and ivory together in harmony side by side on a piano keyboard in a classroom at MMU. I got to touch piano keys during my music lesson this week—progress! The key to the left of the two black ones is C. I need to learn all the others.

Piano in Warde Hall. The one in Tony's office is nicer, but they keys still look like this.

Piano in Warde Hall. The one in Tony’s office is nicer, but they keys still look like this.

10) Me in the morning with the blue sky behind me. I actually used this selfie for my other blog to show the crack in the mirror, but that looks like a nice spring sky to me.

Me with mirror crack. The door did it, not I, so no bad luck, right?

Me with mirror crack. The door did it, not I, so no bad luck, right?

There you have it, 10 images of what the bright, sunny, warmer, flower-filled future holds. You’re welcome.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Snow Day, Grade Day, Spider Day, Go To Work in PM Day


A squirrel in an ash tree in my front yard on this snowy morning.

A squirrel in an ash tree in my front yard on this snowy morning.

(Aside to a sister, avoid reading to the end of this post if you don’t want to see the creepy crawly who was keeping me company.)

Well, isn’t Mother Nature in a snit this winter?

Channel 9 warned us this weekend that Monday would be ugly. My wife and I awoke at 5 a.m., when the nagging alarm told us it’s “gym time.” We looked out, but saw nothing, and got dressed. But, in the 10 minutes it took us to don sweatpants and socks, a sound started, sort of like a bunch of tiny pebbles being dropped on a board.

There was ice falling from the sky with an odd sandy rattle. We opened the front door, and briefly considered staying at home because who wants to be out in ice? But the ice wasn’t heavy yet, and the gym is nearby, so off we went.

While we were there, the news flashed on the TV screen: Mount Mercy University is closed for the day. Then our cell phones rang. “Mount Mercy is closed for the day,” they confirmed. The snow day will cause me to reshuffle a bunch of syllabi, and I still have to go in to the office late this afternoon to print papers and practice bell ringing, but both my wife and I had the same two-part reaction: First: hooray! And second: morning nap time!

Later, when I got up again, this time around 9 a.m., I noticed a squirrel scampering across the front yard, and I scampered to get my camera and shot a few snow photos out my windows.

My attempt to photograph snowflakes falling. The tree in the background is deliberately out of focus as I try to get an image of the flakes themselves.

My attempt to photograph snowflakes falling. The tree in the background is deliberately out of focus as I try to get an image of the flakes themselves.

Also while we were at the gym, the ice quickly changed to snow, which was a bit of blessing because I just would rather not deal with ice storms, thank you. Say what you will about the white stuff cascading from the skies—and I’m sure lots of people will have some nasty things to say—it’s far nicer than ice.

Well, I’m sure my wife would remind me that “blogging” doesn’t count as catching up on work. Back to the salt mines, even on this snow day.

Still, the world is pretty when it is covered in new white snow. There will be some melting this week. The company I ordered flowers from this spring just e-mailed me an “order status” message to remind me that there will be an April sometime in the future and I should get new flowers delivered then that supposedly I will be able to plant in thawed ground.

And while I was finishing this post, my pal showed up, the hunting spider who spends her time killing small insects in my office, a service I consider valuable so I try not to hassle her. Somehow, arachnid life seems like a foreshadowing of spring, too.

Hang on, Iowans. Enjoy the snow day. What else can you do?

My pal, the office spider, who showed up by a syllabus I'm updating when I'm not blogging.

My pal, the office spider, who showed up by a syllabus I’m updating when I’m not blogging.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Some Spring Flowers Before The Snow


Crocus blooms March 23, 2013. Snow will fall tonight,k but spring is underway.

Crocus blooms March 23, 2013. Snow will fall tonight,k but spring is underway.

We are to get a dusting of snow, maybe 1 to 3 inches, in the next 24 hours, a strangely fitting end to this rather cool and wintery spring break from school.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But even if the temperatures have seemed, well, “brisk” for this time of year, the spring sun is shining, and I saw the first flowers in my garden blooming today. So I guess it’s official—despite a few more blasts of snow, spring is here.

Another view of blooming crocus cluster in my back garden.

Another view of blooming crocus cluster in my back garden.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And so February slowly comes to its end


A magnolia bud next to snow snow melting on a bush behind Warde Hall at Mount Mercy University.

A magnolia bud next to snow snow melting on a bush behind Warde Hall at Mount Mercy University.

Winter is a dish best served cold. It has not been all that cold this winter in Iowa—in December and January, we wondered where winter was and whether we were headed to a snowless season, which would be bad news since we’re still in a severe drought.

Snow falls at MMU campus Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Snow falls at MMU campus Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Then came February, the frosty month of freaky flakes in the air. Freaky, because snow doesn’t require a big amount of moisture, so meteorologists are prone to more guesswork and often can be wrong.
And so the bit of snow we expected late Tuesday turned into more than it should have. We were lucky—Des Moines and Ames got much more of it. We received around 5 inches, all said and done, and it took a long time the saying and doing were over. Originally, the forecast called for a bit of snow late Tuesday into Wednesday—and it would all be over before noon Wednesday.

But, when Audrey and were shoveling the heavy wet stuff early Wednesday evening, snow was still coming down, and the sidewalks and drive that we cleared last night had close to an inch of new white this morning.
Well, at least it looks pretty. And it won’t be around that long—with highs in the 30s, this new wet slushy ground cover will slowly recede.

According to a recent story in The Gazette, Iowa is in the odd predicament now of being stricken by a drought at the same time that there is a risk of spring floods. That’s because the snow rests on a layer of frost, which is a barrier keeping the dry subsoil from benefiting from all the white water resting at the surface. When this snow melts, it will simply trickle into the streams and rivers—and it too much of it melts too quickly, there could be a flood, even as the ground overall is arid and in need of more precipitation.

The flood risk is not that great, and more water in the rivers and lakes is not bad news at all, as long as it’s not too much too fast.

So, thanks for the snow. March is tomorrow. Let’s start warming stuff up slowly, please, and also, if Mother Nature is taking requests, some rain on the newly thawed ground—after it has thawed—would be a very good thing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized