The first snowstorm of the winter of 2020-21 will arrive in the North Country sometime in the course of this day, ending the mild weather that has graced our fall and early winter.
The first serious snowstorm, I should say, since we have had a few previous snow flurries, but with almost no snow accumulations.
Now we must get ready for real winter.
Yes, we have had a few sub-zero temperature nights and some weird early winter wind storms with 35-40 mile-per-hour gusts that toppled dead trees and brought down branches. But snow is the true harbinger of the season in the North Country, so we do not really consider it to be wintertime until a good, thick blanket covers the ground.
About 2-3 inches of snow fell during the past week, snow that has comfortably settled in with the cold to stay until spring, but that is just a precursor, and today a serious storm is on its way with forecasts of 5-7 inches of snowfall.
With more than 40 years of experience living with winters in the North Country of the upper Midwest, we have come to doubt storm weather forecasts. We expect at least 10 inches of snowfall, maybe 12.
This first serious snowstorm will not mean a lockdown and isolation on the farm for us; this year of deadly and horrific pandemic has already done that. In truth we have needed only a few last-minute preparations for winter’s onset:
Taking the snow shovels down from the hooks in the garage,
Filling the bird feeder and setting out new suet blocks,
Stacking firewood on the deck,
Mounting the snowblower head and tire chains on the DR mower’s power unit,
Setting the mukluks beside the door,
Unpacking mittens and other layers of winter clothing,
Placing the “Icy Driveway!” sign at the bottom of the lane.
We are brewing an extra pot of coffee, “high octane” Norwegian coffee, because a raging winter snowstorm is an awesome and beautiful thing to watch from behind a picture window, sitting inside a warm kitchen, with a hot cup of coffee, the last of the Christmas cookies, plus a couple rounds of lefse.
We have also laid in a stock of good beers because the aftermath of a winter storm is a miserable thing to deal with when outside in sub-zero temperatures, wind blasting, slipping on the ice, snow packing your beard as you run the snowblower – without a beer to look forward to. Maybe a couple of beers to look forward to.
But that is all two days away, after the storm moves through. Today I am a bear in hibernation, snuggled deep in the cave of my easy chair, warm and well-fed and dozing off to dream of spring. Right after I put one more big chunk of walnut into the woodstove.
Do your worst, winter snowstorms! Throw a foot of snow on us. Two feet, if you want.