Category Archives: Weather

Rainy Days and Turtles

Last weekend I caught a break in the torrential downpours  occurring for days on end and wandered into a nearby woodland.  The quest was simple, to see what I could see.  I was not disappointed!  All the rain had kept the general public away for the weekend and the woods were a vibrant green.  On top of that, the birds and wildlife were taking advantage of the break in the weather as well.  Still looking for my first snake of the year but this was a solid trip.

It was a good little adventure.  Come on along with me on a bit of a wet and slick ridge climb!

Next weekend, I’m heading into the woods on my first bushcraft/minimalist camping trip of the season.  I’ll be taking the camera with me to be sure.  I’m super excited about the trip as I’ve had to cancel three times previously.  If all goes well, I’ll be in the woods for two straight days.

More to come!

Full Swing Summer

BlueI never like it when I turn around and several weeks have disappeared.  It means I’m out of touch, not grounded.  Days go by in a swirl of family, work and personal quests.  It’s like a magic trick that seems to happen from time to time.  I turn around and “poof!”, it’s August!

Looking back at the blog and the preponderance of gaming posts it would seem I’m headed towards a gaming-only blog.  I hope to correct that with this and some future posts.  Gaming was never intended to be the only thing I write about here. Summer is in full swing here at the den and the curious thing is that gaming is the LEAST of what I’m doing these days.  (Well, except for some awesome sessions of X-COM thanks to a generous friend and the Steam Summer sale! ) What irritates me a bit with my own fool self is that Nature, it’s beauty, our connection to it, and what we can use and bring into our lives from it, is a very large part of my life.  Yet I find, looking back at the blog, I’ve written so little about those subjects.

I’m not really sure why that happens.  Perhaps it’s because I carry some preconception that I’m “busy” and that gaming is “easy” to write and my nature writing needs to be “deep” and “meaningful?”  I’m not quite sure.  I’ll figure it out one day but till then, let’s talk about Nature and see what happens?

I look back to the days of yore.  When the wee, young Yote gallivanted through the rolling ridges and woodlands, rambled through creeks looking for crystals, fossils and artifacts and honed his fly fishing skills against the finest bluegill and bass minds to be found.  (Ok, so that was just last week but, well, you get the idea…)  During those days there were always 4 to 6 weeks that were miserable; the hot, humid and nasty days of late July and August.  The days where, even inside, all the paper gets a bit damp from humidity and the nights are spent with only a thin sheet to cover you.  Those days when sometimes three showers and a hose down were just not enough to keep cool.  Late Summer in Indiana when the time in the great outdoors is reserved for the cool morning and the long evening hours.  When, during the scorching, middle day hours, you always have  water handy and constantly seek relief from the nearest shade or shadow from the sun.  You remember those days around here?  And, to add to it, the last few years have been particularly grueling with high heat waves and scorching drought.  Do you remember this time last year?  It was brown.  Life was brown.

Everything was brown and the world crunched when you walked on it.

And then, we have this year.

MorningGloryThis year has been an anomaly which I’ve not seen the likes of since, well, ever!  The nights are cool.  The days are staying, at the most, in the high 80’s.  The rain has been steady.  Our garden has not needed watering once since we planted in late May and June.  The flowers and the green have been startling in their brilliance.  I swear, there is a house on the way into town, it has a flower garden right near the road.  I’m amazed there’s not been more wrecks there this year.  The amount of color exploding outward is a massive distraction.  Seriously, someone needs to call the city or something.  They should put up a sign, “Caution.  Distracting Color Ahead.”

Garden

LunaMothThere have been mornings when I get up to walk the puppy and I think I’ve been transported to my favorite summer vacation location, Upper Michigan.  Fishing along the shores of nearby Lake Monroe one recent morning, I had an honest-to-God flashback.  One moment I’m casting into a small swirl on the water’s surface and the next I’m standing on the shores of Lake Superior wondering if I should be looking over my shoulder for black bears.  (For the record, we need bears back in Indiana.  It would be awesome!   I’m serious.)

And what’s up with the weather?  I’m seriously missing my quality time hunkering down in a basement and listening to storm sirens.  The storms, when they have arrived, have been perfect.  Full of rain, thunder, lightning, and very little in the way of destruction and chaos.  I’ve fallen asleep twice this summer to the rumbling, far off artillery sounds of heavy thunderstorms.  TWICE!  And without a siren to be heard…

JulyCloudsOh yeah, another question, who ever heard of going back inside to get an over-shirt for a morning walk in late July in Southern Indiana because you are “chilly?”  That word doesn’t exist in Southern Indiana in late Summer.  I looked it up.  It says so in the manual.

Final evaluation?

This summer has been beautiful.  Drop down, million dollar, super star, deluxe model, limited edition gorgeous.

I guess it sort of explains where the past few weeks have gone, eh?

End of Winter

For the first time in a few years we are experiencing an actual Winter in the Midwest.    It hit  around the Winter Solstice and it’s not let up since.  Snow, sleet, and ice have been our constant companions.  I have always enjoyed this time of year and the feel of cold air.  It lets me know I’m alive.  This year, for the first time in a long time, I’m ready to be done.

Our house has been pretty cold this year.  I’m sure that’s part of it.  Even with the wood stove going, the exterior rooms get pretty chilly.  It’s not unusual to have a coat on over your sweater or, my favorite, wrapping a favorite blanket around you.  I’ve lived in colder housing, that is for sure.  Two winters in a yurt will change your perspective of cold weather for the rest of your life.  Still, I’m noticing the cold is starting to get to me.  Maybe it’s just the constant gray?

Earlier this week and before the current round of bleary weather moved in I listened to the siren call of our woods and took a small hike after work.  The woods were quiet, still and damp as I slowly worked my way down the steep ridge and to my goal, the creek.  To my right I heard the snapping of branches and saw something that warmed my heart.  A whitetail doe moving through, limping on her three good legs.

I first saw her just before the blizzard in December and I was worried for her.  She had either been hit by a car or had taken a fall somewhere because a bloody wound, most likely a break, could be seen up near her right front shoulder.  In the blizzard she was desperately trying to make her way through the rising snowfall and I watched her finally settle using some brush and stone as a windbreak.   I was concerned she would not make it through the next few days but I knew there was little I could do for her.  I did take vegetable bits out to the wood line for her once a week or so but, regardless, Nature would take her course.  A week after the storm, I saw her again.  Then, nothing for many many weeks.  I assumed that she had fallen to Winter and I made the decision to go looking for her body when the weather broke in the Spring.

Making my walk down the hill I could plainly see I had been mistaken.  She was moving better than before and, alarmed by my presence, she worked herself away, limping and hopping between the bare trees and the grey stones lying on the hillside.  I stood still and gave her no further cause to run or panic.  Seeing her gave me perspective and made me smile.  What a powerful lesson about survival.

It’s been snowing and cloudy here for about four days straight.  The wind this week is a damp one which cuts into your exposed skin if you are out too long.  I needed a break from work yesterday and took a stroll.  I was thinking about how much I was craving the sunshine, some warmth and, if possible, a bit of color.   Walking by a maple tree I noticed it’s tips were the very first red-brown buds.  I took it as a promise.

A message which whispers, “just a few more weeks.”

Blizzard Panoramics

My son’s new camera has a cool panoramic function.  I, of course, felt compelled to take it out with me into the blizzard a few days ago.  I love panoramics.  I feel they can do a great job of capturing the sweep of a landscape or a setting.  I think they did just that and my only regret is that I couldn’t get a more scenic overlook.

Since I’m currently waiting for the next round of snow to hit, my new game to download off of Steam as well as patiently awaiting word that my wife made it safely to her brother’s house in Indy through a snow storm, I spent some time cleaning them up and I thought I’d share them here.

For best results, click on the picture and then click on the 1200x 315 link to get the full size image.

Enjoy!

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The Christmas Blizzard of 2012

I first heard about the storm on the 23rd, Sunday afternoon.  We were having a family gathering at our house, a preemptive Christmas Eve for my side of the family.  A family member made mention of “that serious winter storm coming up on Wednesday.”  My ears perked up at the words because just that morning had checked and NOAA suggested there might be a light chance of “1/4″ of snow expected” late Christmas night so I wasn’t too worried.  (I still wish I would have gotten a screen cap of that forecast.)

She proceeded to tell me about a group of  storm chasers on Facebook –  BAM Chase LLC and I took a look at their forecast.  Their model indicated we were directly in the path of a whopping big dump of snow, nearly a foot or more, which would come up and out of the Oklahoma panhandle area.  That much snow, if it came with ice, could upset things around here for days. perhaps even a full week.  Since we lived in the country we needed to be ready to be snowed in.  To make matters worse, having been lulled into a false sense of safety with the local warmer December weather, we were low on firewood and propane.  IF we were going to get hit, I needed to move fast since Christmas Eve was less than a day away!

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I called a friend who had offered help with firewood in the past.  He got back to me the next morning and he promised a small delivery.  Enough to get us through.  As I called a few other people I would hear, “What winter storm are you talking about?”  So, I explained and I’d like to think I helped to spread the word a bit concerning what was coming our way.

We pushed northward on Christmas Eve.  Time with the family was great.  Getting to be there for my nephew’s first birthday was a big plus!  By that time the word was out and major weather sites were starting to mumble something about “significant snow” on Wednesday.  On the morning of Christmas Day I noticed the flags were being blown by a stiff and steady wind right out of the East/Northeast.  I pointed it out to my wife who uttered the very scientific term of, “Uh oh.”  Here in the Midwest, when the wind starts coming in from the East it’s almost never a good thing.

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Early afternoon on Christmas Day a few cellphones amidst the room went off with a  “Blizzard Warning Alert.”  Needless to say, it caught everyone’s attention and made me feel a bit more justified in my planning.  We left on time and made it home without issue.  As I brought in wood so as not to have to dig it out of a snow bank, my wife made cookies.

DSCF0105We were as ready as we were going to be to ride out our first blizzard as adults.  (It would also be the first winter storm in our new home. ) The last blizzard I can remember living through was the one which hit Indianapolis in 1978.  I’ve been through more than my share of winter storms but I still have memories of the ’78 blizzard as seen through the eyes of a young boy.  This typically covered such things as staying inside and watching television, a large snowball fight after the storm had passed and digging a large set of tunnels in the snow of our back yard.  I also clearly remember the ice storm of 1979 and running back home as the wind moved through ice-covered trees causing them to lose their limbs and fall all around me.

The wind picked up just before midnight but no snow.  Not knowing how long the next day might be, we went to bed.  I awoke just before dawn to more than 6″ of snow, blowing wind and a winter wonderland.  Our day was pretty uneventful but that was only because of the advance warning.  I kept a fire going, watched the internet for news, and wandered out into it every now and then.  I took a lot of pictures.  I also watched the birds.

Right at dawn a lone cardinal sat outside our snow burdened feeder giving off alarm cries.  The snow had caked the feeder and needless to say the ground where I normally place seed was covered.  Heading outside I fixed the feeder and cleared off a small patch of ground and placed some bird seed (by the time I was heading back inside it was already starting to cover over again!)  Within a half an hour, word was out that the buffet was open and our front yard and tree branches became slammed with birds.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.  Cardinals hung in our trees like Christmas ornaments and our front yard around the feeder became carpeted with birds.

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The storm tapered off around 4 PM.  Overall, we made it through just fine.  We were warm and comfortable.  We had received close to 13″ of snow and our road was completely impassable without the help of a 4 x 4 truck.  We had not lost power (which I was sure was going to happen) and that alone made our blizzard experience completely enjoyable.  I knew others were not having as good of a time.  Reports had come in of a 40 car pile-up on the major State Road which heads to Indianapolis.  Traffic was backed up and motorists were stranded.  Power was out in some areas.  One time while out on a walk, I could hear emergency vehicle sirens bouncing off the distant hills.

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I love to take walks out into storms like this.  I’ve wandered out into ice storms, snow storms and tornadoes.   I’m always smart and I always stay close to the house.  There is something about the energy of Mother Nature at her most fierce.  Oftentimes, when Mother Nature is at her most dangerous she is at her most beautiful.  There is a drive in me to go experience it, to view that beauty and that energy.  It’s not something you can feel through the walls of a house, you have to go out and get in it.  If you do, though, always remember to be safe.  As I tell my kids, “Mother Nature likes to kill fools who don’t respect her.  Remember that and you’ll be alright.”

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DSCF0209During one of the later walks a neighbor dog came bounding up to me full of happiness and snow cover.  I said my hellos to her but as she bounded off I heard her name being called further up the hill.  She happily dashed off into a nearby field and that was when I could see the figure up the hill holding a leash.  Someone had escaped.

I spent the next half hour trudging through snow banks and trying to get my canine visitor to come back to me and her owner.  I finally tricked her with the old “I’ve got a treat in my pocket” trick and got her close enough to grab her collar.  I know she was having fun plowing headfirst into snow drifts but with evening coming she would be better off inside.   I hope she forgives me for being such a turncoat.

The storm ended up to be nowhere close to the blizzard of ’78 or others from history.  It was a one day storm where others had sometimes come in and lasted two or three.  There was hardly any ice and the wind had rarely gotten over 30 MPH.  I saw a report at one point that said it had become a Category II blizzard on the 1 – 5 scale, possibly getting into the III level.   I’d say that was about right and I’m glad it wasn’t any worse.  I’m not sure we would have had enough wood or cookies to get through it!

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