The Long Winter

Winters in Maine are long. This winter has been surprisingly mild, even to the point of giving us 50°F days. But one swallow does not make a summer. Friday night on a regular shopping trip to Portland, we were hit by a surprise snow storm. On Saturday, the day time temperature fell to 9ºF, with strong winds that made those temperature even more dangerous. As you have seen, we were hit by a blizzard this Tuesday. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Blizzard, March 2017

Today, we had a blizzard. Total snow fall was 19″ or 50 cm. However, with such a dry winter, we did need the snow. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Winter Fog

Last week ended in heavy fog. Warm spring air arrived early this year. Once it washes over the cold snow pack, a dense fog can remain in the area an entire day. This photograph was taken near sunset. These trees are slowly advancing into our blackberry field in the distance. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Channels

Water draining from sand dunes begins to cut channels into the flat surface of a beach. This is somewhat of an optical illusion. If you think the light is coming from the right, then the channels will seem to protrude from the surface. If you think from the left, then the channels appear to cut into the surface, as they actually do. Reid State Park, Maine. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Let it snow…

We have had about 4 ft. of snow in three storms in about the space of a week. This photograph is from the latest storm on Thursday. We are having a hard time finding a place to throw it—our snow banks along our driveway are approaching 6 ft. in height. Yes, it is pretty, we are just too tired from shoveling to enjoy it. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Snow Day

Today we are housebound. We are expected to receive 24″ of snow, about 60 cm, in blizzard conditions. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Harbinger

Ice crystals in the atmosphere creating a halo around the moon. This was our view this Wednesday. Today, we had one of the largest storms this season, about 8″ to 9″ of snow. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Winter Woods

Our forest in winter feels open. Unlike the other seasons, nothing is hidden. It is like walking into a large empty warehouse where the entire space seems to reveal itself, leaving little to explore. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Winter Blackberries

I explored our land this weekend. We have had unusual amounts of rain, freezing rain, and sleet this winter. The snow pack is hard and slippery–normally when I wear snowshoes, it is so I don’t sink too far into the snow, but now I just need the crampons on the shoes to stop from slipping.

Our blackberry field is like an abstract painting of hard black strokes on a brilliant white canvas. This is such a stark transformation from what this field looks like in the summer. Click on the image for a larger view.

Winter Constellations

life_in_maine_winter_constellationsHigh altitude clouds create halos around the bright stars in the winter constellations: Orion, on the right with his famous belt and sword; Taurus, in the center marked by his blazing eye; and the Pleiades, the tight blue group on the left. Click on the image for a larger view.

Road Closed

on_the_road_road_closedThe journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway is not always predictable—what journey ever is? Sections of the parkway can be closed because of landslides. But when one road closes, another opens. This closure was just after the entrance to Mt. Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River.

The ride up Mt. Mitchell is very different from Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. While Mt. Washington is 400 ft lower at 6,289 ft—compared to Mt. Mitchell’s 6,684 ft—the summit is an alpine zone. The tree line extends to Mt. Mitchell’s summit. on_the_road_mt_mitchellThis December, it was a windy 37°F at the summit lookout. A park ranger walked up with us and explained this weather was unusual. Normally, he explained, there would be a snow pack of several feet and freezing weather. He is a member of a troop of rangers that man the summit year round. We ended the day at Green Knob Overlook on the way down. Click on the images for larger views.

Green Knob Overlook, Elev 4,760 ft

on_the_road_green_knob_overlookFrom the Blue Ridge Parkway. At dusk, light seems to be sucked up out of the valleys and into the sky. Anyone below would probably feel the day has ended. But high on a ridge, the light seems to linger just a little longer. And quietly, the landscape yields to the inevitable darkness. Click in the image for a larger view.