Posts Tagged ‘St. Albans’

Photo Evidence: Spring Coming to Vermont

March 13, 2011

Amid wet snowflakes, cold raindrops, and a low gloomy overcast, I went outside, and out of desperation, tried to get some work done around my house in St. Albans, Vermont.

I dug up the thin layer of unfrozen ground near the shed, that needs to be completely dug up and enriched with good dirt. For flowers. That will allegedly bloom when spring allegedly comes.

The very first, tentative sign of spring at my St. Albans, Vermont house after a long, long snowy winter. Photographed today, March 13, 2011

Hell, I got 20 minutes of work in before I hit solid, frozen ground and gave up.

But wait!  Right up against the sunny side of the house. A fresh, tender green shoot! It’s the first bit of a crocus that I planted last fall. It’s not much, and it’s certainly not blooming yet, but it’s the first sign that maybe spring will get here.

“Sugar Snow” Graces Vermont

March 12, 2011

As is well documented in this blog, I’m anxious for the snow to melt. I’m itching to get the landscaping season going and the snow is very much in the way.

This morning's sugar snow added to the deep accumulation on my lawn in St. Albans, Vermont.

So imagine my disappointment when I woke up to two inches of fresh snow that replaced some of what melted yesterday.

Forecasts had called for absolutely no snow last night around my place in St. Albans, Vermont, so I got the booby prize there.

But I made the best of the new snow. It was “sugar snow.” What that is a couple inches of wet snow that often falls at night in Vermont during March. It’s maple sugaring season now, so such a snowfall adds a little moisture for the trees to keep producing sap.

Snow clings to branches and frames an old courthouse in downtown St. Albans, Vermont this morning.

Granted, we don’t particularly need the moisture this year, but sugar snow is a tradition of sorts, so I have to accept it.

The great thing about sugar snow is it’s very pretty. It usually falls when there’s very little wind, and the wet snow clings to every last twig and cornice.

That’s what happened today.  So of course I took pictures, which you see on this blog post. (You might have to scroll down after this text to see all of them)

Snow on tree branches brightens the facades of buildings in downtown St. Albans, Vermont this morning.

Another good thing about sugar snow is it melts fast. It stopped snowing around 8 a.m. It’s now 10:30 a.m. and the sugar snow is melting fast under the glare of fleeting glimpses of the sun sneaking through the clouds.

The slow March melt now resumes. Until tonight, when chances are we’ll get yet another sugar snow.

Snow on a tree in my St. Albans, Vermont yard this morning.

Snow on the trees around a brook near my house in St. Albans, Vermont yesterday. Ice broke on the brook in yesterday's thaw, exposing the flowing water

Wet snow creates a tangled pattern on a tree in my yard in St. Albans, Vermont this morning.

Darlusz Has Had it Up to Here With Snow

March 10, 2011

“Oh, look at dat, it snow again. It too much. Make it stop.”

Those are the words Darlusz the frog who lives here used to wake me up from a sound sleep early this morning at my house in St. Albans, Vermont.

Darlusz the frog next to my mailbox, after I shoveled it out this week and left a giant snowbank behind.

“Why you no tell me winter here like dat back when I move here. I no like living in glacier,” Darlusz said. “This snieg, it make me sad,” he said, using the Polish word for snow.

“Well, winters aren’t usually this snowy. And you usually start to get thaws in March. This is a weird one,”  I said.

“But why dis? Why so much now?. I do someting and get punish?,” Darlusz asked.

“No, this isn’t your fault,” I said, tapping him lightly on the head. “Believe it or not, some people blame this on global warming,” I said.

“Ach, no. But it cold, not warm. It crazy, you say warm cause all dis snieg,” Darlusz said.

“First of all, it’s not proven. This snow could be a fluke,” I replied “But I’ve read that a warmer world means there’s more moisture in the air. If there’s more moisture in the air, we can get bigger storms and much more rain. Or snow if it’s cold enough. Remember, global warming doesn’t exactly cancel out winter,” I said, now on a roll.

Darlusz the frog huddles against a two-foot deep wall of accumulated snow in my driveway, using it to protect himself from continued cold winter winds. st

“Ah, dat science it confusing. I get, what you say, frustrated tinking about it,” Darlusz said.

“Yeah, a lot of people do,” I admitted. “Some are frustrated to the point of anger. Some people don’t want to believe global warming exists. It does, almost all the scientists agree. And they all agree that the weather will keep getting weirder as a result. It’s the picky details like whether all this snow has anything to do with it that is shaky,” I said.

“I see on TV dat people, day yell and day scream dat global warming do not exist. So why you say everybody say it does,” Darlusz asked.

“The people with the loudest voices aren’t necessarily the ones that are right,” I said. But almost all scientists agree global warming is real.   You’re right, Darlusz, people who don’t think global warming exists get very angry when you bring it up. When I wrote about this very subject in my weather blog for the Burlington Free Press, I got so many angry comments about it. They said I’ve been duped into believing global warming exists,”

“So why you even say anything if you get yelled at, Darlusz asked

“Because I don’t think people who yell should scare us,” I said.

“Why doz people so mad anyway,” Darlusz asked.

Gawd, that frog’s questions never end.

“A lot of reasons,” I said. They don’t trust the government, or authority, and think global warming gets them fraudulent research funds, or it will lead to laws that will take some of their rights away. I see their point. Nobody should blindly trust the government, or every scientist. But in the case of global warming, I do think the verdict is in. It’s happening. Just how exactly how it will play out is anybody’s guess.”

“And dat why people mad, day don’t like not know what come next,? Darlusz asked

“Exactly. That’s at least part of it. And they don’t know who to trust, they worry that people will make them change their lifestyle to prevent further warming, or there will be more government control, or they just think that since governments have sold them on a bill of goods in the past, it will happen again.

“So the instinct of the people who deny global warming are good, but  they are just sticking their heads in the sand rather than influencing how our response to climate changes should be. That’s the end of my lecture today, Darlusz.”

“We go shovel now,” Darlusz said. “Da snowbanks, day so big. Where we put da new snow dat fell,”?  he asked.

“Darlusz, that’s the toughest question you asked all morning,” I replied.

More Vermont Snowstorm News

March 8, 2011

The day after a huge snowstorm is beautiful if the sun comes out, like it did today.

A downtown Burlington, Vermont restaurant is nearly hidden by mounds of snow awaiting removal. Yesterday's storm dumped 25.8 inches of snow on the city.

Up here in Vermont, we’re digging out from one of the biggest snowstorms in memory.  Most of the northern half of the state got between 20 and 30 inches of new snow.

Luckily, the blue skies and comfortable temperatures (for Vermont, anyway) are making it a little bit easier to shovel away the piles of snow.   It’s also dazzlingly bright out with all this snow. Sunglasses are a must.

The snow is melting a little bit in sunny corners, as the March sun is strong, compared to the weak rays of December. So there’s hope that the snow will eventually melt.

A handwritten sign on a piece of cardboard reads "Look up, look out" as a mass of snow on the roof over Nectars Restaurant in downtown Burlington, Vermont threatens to crash down on pedestrians on the sidewalk below.

There’s about two feet of snow on the ground at my house in St. Albans, Vermont, and in Burlington, and three to four feet in other towns away from Lake Champlain.

They’re worried about spring flooding, because there’s a lot of snow to melt, and we’re getting toward mid-March already.

Yes, I want to get rid of the snow, now that the excitement of the storm is fading. But maybe a big flood would be too much excitement so let’s go for a gradual meltdown for the rest of the month, shall we?

Epic Snowstorm Slams Vermont

March 7, 2011

This was one of those snowstorms you tell your grandkids about

Except I’ll never have grandkid, but never mind.Visibility is low in today's snowstorm along the road in front of my St. Albans, Vermont home.

About two feet of snow dumped on us since yesterday, and things have basically fallen apart. A foot of snow is not that big a deal in Vermont. When you get to two feet, you really notice. Such a storm really changes your routine.

I shoveled for two hours today, just to get a narrow path out of my driveway that barely accommodated my truck. I will do a lot more shoveling this week.

This is what my truck looked like when I stepped outside my St. Albans, Vermont house this morning after nearly two feet of snow fell.

After I got out of my driveway, I drove to work, barely. Sometimes, I had to guess where the road was because of the whiteouts.

Burlington, Vermont really is a ghost town today. There’s a few intrepid people in cars out in the streets, but some of those cars are stuck. A few people are going to and fro on skis and snowshoes.

Downtown Burlington is shut down. All businesses are closed, and all but the main arteries have a foot of snow on them, at least. You can’t drive anywhere.

Here's what I looked like after shoveling my driveway for two hours in a blizzard this morning.

As regular readers know, I wasn’t looking forward to the snowstorm before it came. But now that it has turned out to be such a huge one, there’s some excitement, at least for now.

I love how such a big storm changes things so dramatically. Things stop. The world looks completely different when its buried in snow, and snowbanks seem to reach for the sky, like the damn Alps or something.

College Street in downtown Burlington just before noon today. The street is usually jammed with cars and people during the middle of the day. Not today.

Lately, we keep getting record-size snowstorms up here in Vermont. Eight of Burlington’s 20 biggest snowstorms over the past 120 years have occured since 2000. Three of Burlington’s five snowiest winters, including this one, have happened since 2000.

This might be related to global warming, believe it or not. A warmer world means more water vapor sits in the atmosphere. More water vapor makes stronger, wetter storms. The stronger wetter storms can still produce epic amount of snows. There you go.

This car and bike in downtown Burlington, Vermont Monday don't look like they're going anywhere anytime soon after a storm dumped two feet of snow on the city.

So, if trends continue, I’ll have to get used to epic snowstorms. Seems they come fast and furious.

I also loaded some videos I took of the storm on YouTube. You can see them below.

The Snow Goes, the Snow Comes, Drearily

March 6, 2011

With my growing list of things I must do outside to fix my yard  in St. Albans, Vermont and build up the landscaping, I was heartened by the rain and thawing that got rid of half my snow yesterday and last night.

I took this picture of my snowbound shed on Wednesday, before the thaw. I'm itching to repair and paint it, and landscape around it.

There’s enough bare patches out there to start get rid of unwanted brush, tidy up things, start prepping my derelict shed for a paintjob and some landscaping around it, and get ready for transforming the property in earnest.

There’s hope, yes?

Well, no. All the snow that briefly disappeared is coming back tonight, and then some, so it’s back to square one. We’re going to get eight to 12 inches of  heavy, wet, new snow.

March is the cruelest month. You get ready to go outside and attack your projects with gusto, only to be slapped in the face by a lingering Vermont winter.

By this morning the snow had retreated from around the shed. At this point, when the rain stops, I can begin work around it. But no such luck. A foot of snow is due tonight, delaying any kind of work.

So, I’ll wake up tomorrow back in my dreary winter routine. I’ll throw out my shoulder again clearing the driveway and hefting the snow onto huge piles. I’ll have to hack my way through the frozen snow and ice to get into my truck, and gingerly drive down the skating rink-like roads.

After the snow stops falling tomorrow,  I’ll look in vain for just a bit of warm sun to start the melting process over again. It’s going to take a long time to get rid of it, especially given the forecasts of continued cold weather and maybe another snowstorm Thursday.

Unlike the last two springs, the seasonal landscaping drive, both for myself and my clients, will get off to a very late start because of the snow.

I wonder if I can buy some napalm to get rid of the snow?

Keep Your Rules Off My House

March 4, 2011

I’m terrible with rules. Especially picky little ones. Especially ones with no purpose.

This neighborhood association logo is bright and cheery, but a few such associations are just evil.

Which is why I am so grateful I don’t live in a place with a neighborhood association board with regulations that make the fine folks in Catch 22 seem like easy going freedom lovers. Or a town where the zoning officials have a meltdown if so much as one blade of grass is out of place on my lawn.

I thought of this today as I read a report out of Sacremento that a plumber is in trouble with county zoning officials because he parks his business truck in his own driveway. The truck doubles as the family’s transportation.

It’s unclear what harm the truck is doing, but whatever.

These stories about ridiculous restrictions on homeowners come up from time to time, and I shake my head in wonder. Is it that big a deal that somebody flies an American flag in their window? Or plants too many roses?

Apparently, it is. Don’t people have anything better to do that complain about roses? Talk about a nanny state.

Here’s a couple awful examples from years past:

Some associations are heartless. Television station WESH in Orlando reported in 2008 that a man’s wife and kid were killed when a crashing plane slammed into the family’s house.

When the surviving husband tried to rebuild, the neighborhood association threaten to sue him because the shingles on the new house weren’t exactly the right color and the house didn’t look exactly like the one he was replacing.

The man didn’t want the house to look exactly like the old one because it was too painful; it would remind him too much of his wife and kid.

I’m sure the resale value of surrounding homes would plummet to nothing if the shingles weren’t the exact shade of beige as everything else.  “Honey, I refuse to live in a neighborhood where all the beige is not exactly the same. How in the world could people live in a neighborhood with mismatched beige? It’s barbaric!”

Also in 1998, also in Florida, a 66 year old guy  was jailed because his lawn turned brown and he couldn’t afford to re-sod it. He did ignore some court orders to do the work, but he said he just couldn’t afford it.

So we’re jailing people for poor lawn care?

Here in Vermont, there’s an ongoing discussion in Burlington about homeowners who want to replace leaky windows in old homes with ones that look exactly like they’re made out of wood, but are made of modern materials.

OK, I admit the paint job on this Burlington, Vermont house is a bit much, but I'm still glad I don't have zoning people and neighborhood nitpickers telling me what color something stupid like my mailbox should be.

The windows aren’t 100 percent historically accurate, so you can’t have them, says the city. Which means people waste heating fuel, money and warm the planet, not their houses.

Don’t get me wrong. I think some rules should exist. Homeowners in historic neighborhoods ought to keep their houses at least looking, well, historic.

I also wouldn’t want a combination goat farm, nuclear storage dump, limburger cheese factory, shooting range, explosives testing ground and heavy metal concert venue across the street from my house in St. Albans, Vermont.

So the fact that the St. Albans Town Zoning rules don’t allow that combination in my neighborhood is probably a good thing.

Neighborhoods look better if there’s variety to them. Unlike neighborhood association fears, a certain level of variety enhances neighborhoods. A few quirks around the streets are a good thing.

In Burlington, the city has been blessedly silent as one major property owner in town has painted several of his apartment houses all kinds of bright funky colors. The once drab neighborhoods seem to come to life with these new paint jobs.

So let’s limit the rules. My gawd, imagine having to look over my shoulder every time I plant a lilac bush or knock down a dead tree, or put shades up in the windows and worry that the Design Police will put me in front of a firing squad.

I wonder if I’ll be tortured and killed for putting up a trellice for a rose bush this spring?  Thankfully, it won’t happen here in St. Albans. And there’d better be no proposals to establish a neighborhood association on my street.

So folks, watch out for those neighborhood associations. They might not like the color of your car, and then you’d really be in trouble.


Super Dad Makes Huge Snow Fun Park

February 24, 2011

Up here in Vermont, there’s a winter storm warning because forecasters say we’re going to get six to ten inches of “heart attack snow” tomorrow.

The giant snowman slide in South Lake Tahoe

Heart attack snow, for the uninitiated, is a heavy wet snow that is perfect for making snowballs and snow sculptures, but will kill you when you try to shovel it, it’s so heavy.

But, on the bright side, I just found a very timely, great idea from South Lake Tahoe. Somebody took a huge amount of snow – I’m not sure if it’s heart attack snow – and made this super, complex and really fun looking snow sliding park.

It includes a giant snowman that you can sled in and out of.  Reports are a dad spent 80 hours (!!!!) shoveling to make the slide for his kids. I hereby nominated him, ah hell, I annoint him, dad of the year.

I really don’t want more snow to fall at my  St. Albans, Vermont house because I need it to melt so I can get some grandiose landscape projects going. But since I have no choice in the matter, I will take notes so maybe I could build a snowman slide as we all watch the video, below.

Nature Helps My Pruning

February 19, 2011

Last night, our very welcomed February thaw ended with tremendous gusts of wind that rattled my house in St. Albans, Vermont and howled through the trees outside. With a full moon dashing in and out of clouds racing across the sky, the combination would have been perfect for a horror movie.

The mess under my willow tree this morning. About half the branches and twigs came down earlier this winter, the other half blew down last night.

When dawn broke this morning, there was no horror outside, but quite a few fallen branches on the lawn and driveway that weren’t there last evening.

It’s messy looking, but the broken branches are a good thing. Some of them were dead, ugly limbs that had been clinging stubbornly to my otherwise robust weeping willow tree, and had been taking  a bit away from the willow’s splendor.

Others branches were parts of dead trees that are located too close to the house, or power lines for me to safety chop down. So it’s a welcome sight to see those dead hulks slowly disintegrate.

A tangle of branches and grapevine that blew off the trees last night and onto my driveway. I just threw them aside onto a snowbank for now.

Still other branches were parts of extensive, tangled grapevines that were clinging to the trees. Last March, I cut huge grapevines at their base. They were bigger than the circumference of my wrist.  I couldn’t tug all of interlocking mess of grapevine from all of the trees, so there they hang, looking ugly as hell. Now they’re starting to slough off the trees, and that’s a great thing.

I won’t mind at all picking up the mess of branches. The wind died down early this morning, but picked up again this afternoon.  Maybe some more ugliness in the trees will fall, eventually leaving me with a lush green, healthy looking collection of trees this summer.

One can only hope.

I’m So Ready for This Thaw

February 17, 2011

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a thaw like the one that is now settling into Vermont.

A woman takes her chances walking on the ice of Lake Champlain at Burlington, Vermont's waterfront Thursday, despite a thaw that set in.

It hasn’t even been nearly the harshest winter I can remember, but the deep, persistent snow has left me dispirirted and feeling claustrophobic.

Plus, I am chomping at the bit to get going on grandiose gardening and landscaping improvements around my house in St. Albans, Vermont. I want to do it. NOW!

I have no illusions that a couple days of warmish weather will get rid of the thigh-deep snow around my house. There will be plenty left by the time the temperature crashes to well below freezing Saturday morning.

But a man can dream, can’t he?  Who knows, if I get lucky, maybe I can get tiny bits and pieces of work done. I noticed this morning the warming February sun is eroding the snow on the south sides of my house and shed.

It was nice enough for dining al fresco at lunchtime in Burlington, Vermont Thursday, but a lot more snow is going to have to melt here before that's possible.

Maybe, just maybe I can take up a little bit of sod  in those spots that I will replace with flower beds.

I’m going to refurbish the deck in the front of my house this spring or summer and get rid of an ugly railing on it. I noticed this morning part of the doomed railing is leaning, damaged by the heavy snow.  The snow actually gave me a bit of a break, and will make it easier to remove the railing. Maybe I can do it Saturday, if enough snow around the railing melts by then.

It’s surely too much to ask for enough snow to melt by Friday in a woodsy area between the house and road where I can start removing a tangle of brush, dead trees and shrubs, leaving behind some healthy trees.  That will have to wait.

But just the fact we’re having a thaw is something to celebrate. A couple weeks ago, just after that thundersnow we got, I was talking to my 90 year old dad. He said when he was little, the old timers would say thundersnow would mean winter’s back was about to be broken.

Dad had a point. Things started getting a bit less harsh several days after the thundersnow.

Now the thaw is settling in. It’s off to a good start. It’s unexpectedly sunny today,   which is great, because the sun will really start to chew up snowbanks and snow on south facing slopes.

The sight of snow and ice melting into storm drains in this thaw is a thing of beauty.

It’s supposed to get foggy tonight, and that’s good. Fog eats snow. It might get into the low 50s tomorrow. That’ll surely quicken the thaw.

It’s funny how a long-anticipated thaw makes ugly things seem beautiful. I love the gurgling sound of meltwater flowing into storm drains. I love the filthy pools of water oozing away from the fading, dirty snowbanks like blood from a murder victim.

I know this is just a quick break, and more winter is on the way. It’s supposed to snow Sunday night. Temperatures will be back below zero next week. But we’re getting toward the end of February. It will warm up again. Even if all the snow we’ve lost gets replaced, at least we don’t have to deal with the snow we had before this thaw.

Soon enough, I’ll be digging up dirt, getting myself all muddy, sweaty and injured with the gardening. In other words, I’ll be in Nirvana.