Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Man Winter Shows His Face

Winter finally comes to south Berkshire County!  The Kellogg Center driveway got its first plowing of the year (it never even got plowed last year!) and the coating of white and colder temps are much welcome after last week's deluge.  At one point during that rain event, I looked out my window to see a muddy river flowing down the gravel drive as the dirt double-track next to the garage reached its saturation point and began to erode.  I quickly put down some hay bales which slowed the flow a little, but that will need some attention next spring to shore it up a bit.  That type of thing usually happens here in early spring as it begins to rain on top of the receding snow pack, not during the 3rd week of December.

Why, gentle reader, do I celebrate snow when most folks at the grocery checkout grumble that it has disrupted their lives, causing them no end of anguish due to shoveling slippery walks, bad driving conditions, etc etc?  Well, besides the obvious (it's fun to play in), a healthy snowpack serves several ecological functions:  it prevents/minimizes drought during spring, various animals rely on snow for protection by creating burrows where they can rest and be protected from the wind, it insulates the ground which is crucial for plant roots and animals such as deer, chipmunks, squirrels, mice, etc.  There is even an Inuit word for the thin layer of snow in which small burrowing mammals spend the winter: pukak.  Try using that in a sentence at the grocery checkout and see what kind of looks you get...

Besides the ecological boon, it is also good for the local economy: if it snows then plow guys make money, tourists come to ski and spend money in restaurants, stores, and hotels, and the economic benefits ripple out from there.  If you don't like it, move to the sunbelt!

Below is a picture from today of the sheep barn at the KCC - my project this winter and spring is to re-side this structure in order to be able to use it for tool and equipment storage in the future.  More on that as it happens.  Stay warm and dry out there and drive safely!


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