Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Little Melt and New Snow

We have had some thawing weather the last few days. About all it has done is to make a mess in the parking lots and driveways. Jason Merrill, our maintenance head, has been out with the bobcat clearing away the slippery slush. When the main driveway starts to melt, it is always a mess. Even with all-wheel drive, it is hard to get up the driveway. So Jason goes and scoops it all up and piles it out of the way. Here is a picture of two of his piles.

They don’t look too pretty until they are covered with snow again. Right after scooping up, they are just brown yuck. It is the gravel from the driveway that gets mixed in with them. When these piles melt in the spring, they leave behind a pile of gravel that can be spread on the driveway again. In case you are wondering, we still have lots and lots of snow on the ski trails.- and the forecast is for 4-6 inches more.

Last night the temperature slipped below freezing again. The misty rain turned to snow. Because the branches were wet, the snow stuck to the freezing branches as if it had been glued on. This morning we had some beautiful trees with every branch covered with snow. There was very little wind so even now at 4:00 p.m., there is lots of snow on the trees. Here was the view off our front porch this morning.

Tucker Lake seems to be providing the best stories this week. In the winter with lots of snow one of our neighbors burns brush piles that he has collected all summer. Last weekend his wife was at a quilting retreat and he decided it was the perfect time to burn some brush. In honor of the occasion he wore his favorite stocking cap – a Snoopy cap. He got it from his daughter when she stopped using it at age 8. (The daughter is now 37 but Bruce tells me that men particularly like these well used articles of clothing.)

At any rate, the neighbor is busy with his burning project. After a bit, he begins to smell fumes like something other than brush is burning. Then it starts to smell like hair is burning – a very distinctive smell. He thinks that maybe there is a death animal at the bottom of the burn pile. In a few minutes his head begins to hurt – badly. He pulls his hat off only to discover that a burning ember has started burning the hat and worked its way down to his hair and scalp. Luckily a handful of snow solves the problem with little damage. Of course, even with a 2” hole, the hat is good to go for several more years.

A mystery on Tucker Lake has also been solved this year. Our neighbors there have gone through three blue fire number signs. I am sure that you have seen these signs. They are the assigned identification numbers each house has so that the fire department can find you in case of a fire. I suppose the signs are about 4” by 6” and blue with white numerals on the Gunflint Trail.

Well, these people are now on their third sign. All the blue and white paint is gone from the face of the sign after a short time. No one knows how. Last week they finally saw two Blue Jays pecking the paint off the sign! An examination of the ground beneath the sign did not show any blue flecks. The birds must either be eating it or storing it for future use. The question now is, “How do you stop them?” You wonder what started this. No one else has reported anything like this.

Bruce and I are off the sunny Jamaica on Monday. Before you get too jealous, let me tell you that this is a purely business trip. The two of us and our daughter, Shawn, are going to interview students for work in the U. S. during the summer college break. We go to Kingston which has no tourist development. We interview from 7:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night with no break. Lunch is delivered from the school’s cooking class while we continue interviewing. After dinner we often interview more students at our hotel. And did I mention that there generally is no A/C in the room we use at the school. So, all of you can take pity on us.

We will be back at Gunflint on the 23rd with no tan.