Tag Archives: Snow

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Snow And Sun In Late February


Took this in the woods behind the back fence--it looks like a cow or the devil, I think.

Took this in the woods behind the back fence–it looks like a cow or the devil, I think.

You know, we have not had that much snow this year, so the white stuff that fell Thursday into Friday was kind of nice to see.

Some winters, I’m pretty sick of snow by the end of February. This year, with Iowa in such a severe drought, I’ll take whatever falls from the sky in better spirits, even if my snow blower is still broken and I had to shovel manually.

Anyway, I took some snow photos in the sunshine this morning—it’s a beautiful, late winter, fairly warm day. Grandkids are coming over, and I hope we’ll play in this white stuff later!

More snow photos.

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Seeing signs of spring as snowstorm draws near


A robin Wednesday at MMU.  He and nine of his buddies were busy bitching about the weather while hunting food--just wait till this afternoon, bro.

A robin Wednesday at MMU. He and nine of his buddies were busy bitching about the weather while hunting food–just wait till this afternoon, bro.

I’ll have to get my butt in gear and get home soon—I rode my bike today, and a winter storm warning starts at 3 p.m. Snowmaggedon is coming.

Still, we’re in the waning days of the shortest month of the year. I firmly believe February only has 28 days in most years because nobody wants any more (except in election years because we all enjoy the campaign so much and we just wish February would never end).

And, as this snowpocolypse (OK, I’ll quit adding stupid end-of-the-world suffixes to “snow” now) bears down, it’s worth noting there are all kinds of signs of spring, too:

  • Amelia enjoys some deck play the day her younger sister was born.

    Amelia enjoys some deck play the day her younger sister was born.

    More outdoor play time. The days are getting longer, a few have been warmer, and the grandkids can go out on the deck more.

  • Returning robins. I saw a large male group of robins hanging out and being obnoxious on the MMU campus Wednesday afternoon. Why are they already here? If they had a second amendment and opposable thumbs, they would shoot their guide this afternoon. But, they are here, which means spring is coming.
  • Trees wantonly felled. Not such as positive sign for a certified tree hugger like me, to be sure, but there it is. Utility crews have been busy sawing, dewoodsing the woods behind my back fence. They trampled and damaged many of the young trees I planted there, too. Hey, workers, just stop! Those little trees are supposed to be eaten by deer, not felled by your boots!
Wood in the woods from fallen trees.

Wood in the woods from fallen trees.

Anyway, here’s hoping I get home before the flakes fall. And here’s to knowing those flakes won’t be around for weeks—it’s getting too late in the season for persistent snow cover to last. Hooray!

Early February--MMU students at ICMA. Another sign that winter is almost over.

Early February–MMU students at ICMA. Another sign that winter is almost over.

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Now We No Longer Have to be Dreaming


Cone flower seed head in snow.

Cone flower seed head in snow.

Our White Christmas in most of Iowa is assured. Last night and today, we were smacked by an old fashioned Midwest blizzard. More photos of the result from a Facebook gallery.

My daughter lives in England, where, apparently, the word “blizzard” merely means a storm in which snow accumulates. Here in the midst of the giant flat plain of North America, where the little ripples in the land don’t pose much of a barrier to an Alberta clipper as it sweeps 1,000 miles across a basically flat surface, a blizzard is something else, something powerful and primeval.

Rose leaves in snow in my back garden.

Rose leaves in snow in my back garden.

It’s been months since the last snowstorm of the last winter. We had a hot, dry summer followed by a warm, dry fall. So we can’t complain too much about inches of heavy, wet snow, for any H2O from the sky in any form is a blessing.

But, what a way to introduce the winter of 2013! Sustained winds of 35 mph with gusts over 50 mph. Sticky, wet, heavy snow, plenty of it—and if it didn’t quite add up to a foot in Cedar Rapids, it was plenty heavy enough in the shoveling, let me tell you. We even had thunder booming as the snow fell Wednesday night, although I wasn’t up late enough to hear it. (My son was, and I saw numerous reports of it on Facebook).

Well. Mount Mercy’s campus was closed today, as travel in Iowa was too hazardous. That’s OK, I have a mountain to grade and brought most if it with me. I’m done with two classes, two more to go. I’ll finish tomorrow, and maybe be lucky enough to enjoy some of the cold winter sunshine when I’m done.

The first snow was pretty, but also pretty impressive. I don’t want too many more blizzards, although I won’t mind if the snowpack proves persistent and grows in depth.

Any H2O that falls from the sky in this drought-ravaged land it a blessing. Merry Christmas.

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