Sunday, January 18, 2009


"Winter Lace 2"
(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

         Okay, let me just get it out. I am sick of winter and we are only half way through January. February is usually the month with the worst winter weather, so there is bound to be more snow and frigid weather to come.
        Now, I know all of you who live in Minnesota, Canada, and Alaska, are laughing at me. The description of my weather is like a heat wave to you, but we are not used to such bad weather here.
        We live in a valley in Western PA. Bad weather from the west usually dumps its snow on the hills before it reaches us. If the weather comes from Canada, the lake effect snow ends north of us. If rain comes from the south and turns to snow when it hits our colder temperatures, it usually moves to the east and misses us. The average annual snowfall for this general area is about 40” for the entire winter, but we have less in our little valley. Usually we get 1” at a time, occasionally 2”, rarely 3" or 4”.

We have had 24” of snow
in the last 9 days.

        On Saturday 1/10/09, we woke to 12” of snow on the ground. It took us 3 days to shovel it. We have two different styles of snow pushers. They work fine when the snow is an inch or 2 deep ---maybe as much as 3”. But once snow is deeper than that, it gets too heavy to push and there is nowhere to push it. One can push so far, then the snow needs to be shoveled on top of the ever-increasing piles on the grass.
        We have a double lot and are required to keep the front sidewalk of both lots clear. My husband often shovels the snow in front of the homes on either side, as a neighborly gesture. Throughout our property, we have additional sidewalks which we need to keep clear to get to the back alley to walk to stores in town, to walk to our detached garage (on the second lot) and for delivery people to carry packages from the front street to the back of the house. We also have a driveway that runs from the front street to the back alley with a zig around the garage.
        We had 6 more inches over the next few days which we shoveled in several rounds.
        Last night (1/17/09) we started to shovel another 2.5” of snow, but before we finished the sidewalks, there was 3” on the part we were working on and another 1/2” on the part we cleared an hour earlier. Today we had another 3 inches. We hadn’t done the driveway yesterday, so we had 6” there. We shoveled all the sidewalks again today and about half of the driveway, leaving the other half for tomorrow. 
        Luckily we are retired and can leave the snow for a few days. There is a grocery store on Main Street, a block from us. It is a super market, but a very tiny one compared to the new mega markets, so I refer to it as the UN-super market. It doesn't carry everything we might want, but it would have anything we absolutely needed. We are within walking distance of our doctor’s office, a drug store and the post office, so we can get along with what is available in town, without a car, if the driveway weren't cleared.
        The average high temperature here, December through February, is in the mid 30s F (2ºC) and average lows are in the low 20s (-5ºC). It is rare, but occasionally temperatures dip to the single digits. Typically, the temperature rises above 40ºF (4ºC) occasionally, so that accumulated snow melts before our next snowfall. Often, we have a midwinter thaw with temperatures rising into the 50s, even as high as 60ºF (16ºC).

        Yesterday morning, at 8 am, the outside temperature was -10ºF (-23ºC) on our back porch, with wind chills hovering at -20ºF (-29ºC). Yes, those are minus signs in front of the temperatures. We live in an old house with a fairly new furnace. In normal January weather, our house is a little cool (62º to 65º) but we like it on the cool side. 

On Saturday morning, the 
temperature in our kitchen was 42ºF (6ºC).

Starting from the bottom up, this is what I wore:
knee-high trouser socks
heavy socks
leg warmers
flannel-lined jeans
long sleeved turtle neck
short sleeved T-shirt
pullover sweatshirt
nylon quilted bib ski pants over all of the above
zip-up sweatshirt with hood
thin leather gloves
Note: I WAS WEARING ALL OF THIS INSIDE THE HOUSE while typing on my computer ---and I wrapped an afghan around my feet to keep my toes warm.

        When I went outside, I added fleece-lined insulated boots, neck scarf, hat, heavy fleece-lined, down-filled, wind-blocking parka with hood, heavy gloves with thinsulate over my leather gloves. I felt like a kid with my snow suit and leggings on ---you know, when you could hardly move because your mother bundled you in so many layers.
        Have I mentioned, we are senior citizens? We have our normal aches and pains that come with aging. I have been living on Tylenol for the past week and wake every day feeling like I’ve been run over by a snow plow.

        Sunday, 1/18/09, we had a heat wave. The temperatures went up to 30ºF (-1ºC) up 30 degrees over Saturday’s high. That didn’t stop the snow from falling though. Temperatures will be down somewhat for the next few days, but after tomorrow when we expect another inch, there should be no accumulation of snow for the rest of this week ---well, if the weather reports are accurate. (Sometimes I think I could forecast as well as the meteorologists by throwing a dart at a weather map.)

Considering the length and width of our sidewalks and the length and width of our driveway, I calculated that we have shoveled approximately 3,395,520 cubic inches of snow over the past 9 days.

        Please, please, please, if anyone wants to loan us your beach house anywhere in the southern hemisphere, let me know. It’s summer there.

(Text and photo ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

1 comment:

Veronica said...

Now you see I would LOVE that. Being a northern stuck here in the south I hate it. I would give anything to be up there in the snow. Wanna trade places? I can't wait to see your mixed media art that you are going to create. I am still working my way through yoru blog. But wow I love what I see so far.