August 2017

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This post has a soundtrack to go with it!

We were predicted to get an ice storm last night into tomorrow morning, and we did. Oh we did. We were confident enough that schools would at least be delayed this morning, so we stayed up later than usual last night and watched the last of our snow day movies. (We have a tradition of watching 80's dance movies on nights when we know schools will be closed or delayed the next day for winter weather. We've already worked through Dirty Dancing and Footloose, so that left Flashdance as the only one remaining in our collection. If we get any additional snow days--and if we get the monstrous storm predicted for this weekend, there is a good chance we will--then we will have to settle for something else.) We went to bed just after midnight and, around 12:15, heard the start of the distinctive and disturbing tick tick tick of ice hitting the windows.

I woke up with a jolt this morning around 6 AM to total darkness--the power was out. Bobby was fumbling around the house with a flashlight. "It looks crazy out there," he told me. We have a stand of conifers in our front yard, and one of the arborvitae was bent almost to the ground by the weight of the ice. Of course, with no power we had no Internet and no way to check if schools were closed--and that is not an assumption we can make, considering that we got 8 inches (20 cm) of snow the other day, and most of Baltimore County got nothing. Bobby ended up calling my mom, who is an early riser, to see if they still had power; they did, and she told us that schools were closed. Actually, she said, most of central Maryland was closed.

We are thankfully well equipped to deal with power outages. We have the woodstove, which means that we have heat and a means to cook food. We are within town limits, so we are on public water. (For anyone who has never lived in a house on a well, when your power goes out, the pump for your well won't work, so a loss of power means no water also. My parents are on a well, and when we went without power for eight days in 1999 after Tropical Storm Floyd, the worst part was the lack of water: no flush toilets, no showers. So we are grateful to be on public water here.)

Bobby made us pancakes for breakfast on the woodstove this morning. Even though he used the same mix and the same griddle that he uses on the electric stove, the texture was totally different. They were much fluffier and crumblier. I'm not a big pancake fan, but they were good.

After the precipitation stopped, the temperatures started to rise; it is presently 37F/2.7C. But the layer of ice on the trees was thick, and they were already snow-covered from the snowstorm the other day. Our trees have sustained quite a bit of damage. We lost one of the arborvitae; it just uprooted and toppled over on the driveway from the weight of snow and ice. (Luckily, Bobby was forward-thinking last night and moved the car up the driveway where it is relatively unlikely that one of the many trees on our property will fall on it. The only tree in direct line with the car is the dawn redwood, and if that goes, then we probably have worse problems than the car to worry about. The dawn redwood is a truly majestic tree--probably the tallest on our land--that stands arrow-straight with an ancient grace: These are trees that have been around since the dinosaurs. It is, oddly, a deciduous conifer, so its present lack of foliage also protects it from the worst of damage from the ice. Several of the other trees have lost big branches.

I was out in the backyard, clearing ice off of the back step, when I heard a loud crack from our neighbor's yard; like ours, their land is bordered with white pines, which are not huge trees but are big enough. A massive branch from one of them broke off and tumbled to the ground with much noise and drama. It's scary to see, especially when you're surrounded by trees! Bobby was, at this point, in the front yard, dismembering the poor arborvitae since it had blocked the driveway, and I went out front to tell him to be careful, and I had no sooner told him about the neighbor's tree when the "Halloween tree"* in our yard cracked and lost one of its big branches.

*We have no idea what kind of tree this is; it was here when we moved in and appears to be some kind of ornamental. It has weird pink flowers in the late spring and loses all of its leaves by the end of summer, which--coupled with its rather shaggy bark--makes it look like a Halloween tree, hence our name for it.

I was out back watering the chickens when I heard a lot of creaking and groaning coming from the somewhere in our maple grove. Unfortunately, getting to the chicken shed requires going through the maple grove. So I started running. Of course, there is 8 inches of snow on the ground and it is covered with a layer of ice; I must have looked ridiculous. Thankfully, it was only ice that fell out of the Japanese red maple by the patio, and thankfully, I made it to the chicken shed before even that happened.

At one point, I came in the house, and my first thought was, "Who the hell left the kitchen light on?!" before I realized that this was a good thing: We had our power back.

Bobby just hollered up the steps that NOAA reports that we had a half-inch (1.25 cm) of ice accumulation in Manchester today. The pictures below when I eventually get to post them will show that. As I am sitting here typing this, there is still much ominous noise outside, but I hope the worst is over. Thankfully, we have had almost no wind; had the wind kicked up during or after this storm, I can't imagine what the destruction would be. Bobby just hollered again up the steps that the Carroll County Department of Public Works is reporting 116 roads closed in the county right now. (And we really don't have that many compared to neighboring counties. Wow.)

The power is flickering again and the temperature is dropping. It's dropped two degrees F since I started this post; it's down to 36F/2C right now. I'm still waiting on Photobucket--I got some really good ones of the ice and the damage--but I'm going to post this entry now without the pictures in case we lose power again.

ETA ... pictures are up here.

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