Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Three Strange Days: Sunday

It’s Sunday morning and here I am outside again with the dogs. It is softly quiet, especially after Saturday’s storm. It isn’t too cold, only in the 30s, but my hood is up out of habit. Not too far from the house I feel something touch my cheek. It’s too dark to see clearly so I turn around to face the house lights and can see little specks gently coming down, it’s snowing.

It must have just started, as there is none on the ground. The dogs are indifferent and oblivious to it. They are busy looking around to see what needs to be seen and reacquainting themselves to the smells of the world to bother with the insignificance of the snow. It speckles their fur and melts there but they don’t notice.

Snow had been forecasted and here it was. Lake Effect snow is caused by winds passing over the Great Lakes, picking up moisture from the warmer water and releasing it as snow downwind. This is often the type of snow we receive and has been forecasted for today. Weather maps are showing an unfamiliar pattern. Lake Ontario, to the west, is the usual origin of our snows but today's will be from further south, Lake Erie. The question is how much will we get. Meteorologists have pegged most of the snow will be falling north of us, in the lower hills leading to the Adirondacks. Rarely focusing on us, the forecasts can be wrong.

The pressure fronts from the rains yesterday often have strong winds following them and today is no exception. The winds increase their speed as the sun reveals more of the day. The snow in the flurries is driven in horizontal streams that barely accumulate. This is typical of our Lake Effect snow but it buries the cities closer to the Great Lakes. It’s the reason Syracuse usually wins the Golden Snowball award for snowiest city in New York.

It looks nasty outside as the winds howl, reaching velocities of 50 mph at times. But experience has shown it is mostly a show, the wind being more uncomfortable than the snow. The flakes are uncommonly big, probably from the warmer temperatures than are typical for winter. The warm ground is melting the snow and keeps it from accumulating. The sun comes out now and again, making for a weird pairing of snow and sunshine on a backdrop of green lawns.

The wood stove is full, bathing us in luxuriant heat. The views outside are entertaining us with their constant changes, the wind swirling around, sometimes chasing itself. Beth has filled the house with the aromas of butter, sugar, and spices while baking refreshments. We’re glad it’s not worse because we need go out later in the day. Our local historical association is sponsoring a talk on gravestones, appropriate because Halloween is on Tuesday.

I’m an inexperienced but improving winter driver. Roadways of snow and ice still make me anxious but today’s is easy, almost fun. The drive is a breeze and in a few minutes we arrive. Parking in front of what appears to be a prototypical New England white church, we arrive at the Roseboom Historical Association.

We are early, for once, and head on in. Beth made oatmeal raisin cookies and found a place for them on the already burgeoning dessert table. We reacquainted ourselves with old friends and introduced ourselves to new ones and settled down for a fascinating lecture on the history and sybolism of gravestones and markers in our area of the Northeast.

After the lecture we continued meeting and greeting everyone and eating too much, as usual. I couldn't help but be continually distracted with the views from the front windows. The novel perspective of a south-facing view down a valley surrounded by high and steep hills was too arresting to be ignored. Waves of snow flurries were showering the length of the valley, as irregular in their appearance as foggy wisps on humid days. An incredible sight I feel lucky to experience.

So there you have it, three days of tumultuous weather. This old saying has an undercurrent of truth in it: If you don't like the weather just wait, it will soon change.