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Was I Worried About a Lack of Snow?

January 21, 2012

As soon as  I voiced my concerns about the lack of snow cover in my garden this winter (see An Open Winter?), it began to snow. These were not big, impressive snow storms, but rather a few inches here and a few inches there. It also wasn’t great snow — often heavy and wet or ending with a top-coat of ice. But it covered my garden and provided some protection from any extreme cold we might get and from freeze and thaw cycles; and I was willing to settle for that.A winter wonderland at first light (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

But then yesterday, I awoke to this scene. This was my idea of perfect snow. The storm blew through overnight, snowing heavily but moving away by daybreak and leaving about 7” of beautiful new snow in its wake. This was the kind of morning when muffled sound and softly diffuse light tell you before you even open your eyes that a winter wonderland awaits you.

This was a perfect snowfall not only because it fell overnight when most people were asleep and not trying to travel, but because it fell while the temperatures were cold (about 10F). The resulting snow was low in moisture, making it light and fluffy. Although it clung to the trees, it wasn’t sticky or heavy. This was perfect powder, ideal for skiing and easy to shovel. The soft light of newly fallen snow (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

As the sun rose, the sky turned a soft blue and temperatures rose into the twenties – a perfect day for getting out and enjoying the special pleasures of winter. I wouldn’t mind more days like this in the weeks to come.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. Ali permalink
    January 22, 2012 9:41 am

    Wasn’t Friday just gorgeous? Unfortunately, I spent most of the day in the the office, but did have a couple of trips across campus and a chance to walk the office dog. Saturday was gray but we got another couple of inches of extra fluffy snow — but it was too cold this morning to enjoy the scene. It was -10°F when I let the hens out this morning, brr. Later this morning when it warms up a bit more it will be time for a long walk in the sunshine. Enjoy the day!

    • January 29, 2012 4:23 pm

      Ali, I left to drive back to Pennsylvania in that same -10F on Sunday morning. Brrr is right.

  2. January 22, 2012 11:18 am

    We have had a few of these and they are my favorite snows….we are remaining cold with a good snow cover but wait for it…this week we warm again and we will have RAIN and freezing rain…maybe a bit of snow…seems like an endless cycle…once we melt I will see the vole damage from the snow cover…they are fast and wreak havoc in no time…here’s to those beautiful snowfalls

    • January 29, 2012 4:25 pm

      Donna, South central Pennsylvania seldom gets snowfalls like this; it just doesn’t get cold enough here, and the snow is usually heavy and wet. That makes this kind of snow even more of a treat when it falls while I’m in Maine.

  3. January 22, 2012 12:52 pm

    Looks peaceful too! I don’t get to experience snow very often anymore, but I remember that my favorite part about being in the midst of a heavy snowfall was the quieting effect it had on sounds.

    • January 29, 2012 4:27 pm

      Chad, I usually think of snow’s insulating qualities in terms of temperature insulation; but, clearly, it has sound insulating properties as well. I love that hushed early morning world after an overnight snow.

  4. Lula ( permalink
    January 22, 2012 3:03 pm

    You are so lucky!!! Looks beautiful, I can imagine what a paradise it an be. Could you send some snow to Europe? We are having only grey days, a lot of showers, above temperatures and small buds on shrubs, which is worrying. I wish a walk there …

    • January 29, 2012 4:28 pm

      Lula, We’ve mostly been having above average temperatures and unusual winter rain in the northeastern US, too. It made this normal winter weather all the more special.

  5. January 22, 2012 4:31 pm

    Lovely photos Jean, it’s so nice after that initial snow, very quiet and peaceful. We have had some minor flurries in our area but it won’t last long, temperatures are headed back up yet again.

    • January 29, 2012 4:31 pm

      Marguerite, I’m back in southern Pennsylvania, where temperatures this week got up near 60F (15C). On my walk to work, I’ve seen heather in bloom and daffodils pushing their new foliage up — in January!!

  6. January 22, 2012 8:08 pm

    I was also very happy to welcome our first snowfall, finding land via Lake Michigan. I was fortunate enough to have the time it took to knock the snow from our young evergreens, hoping to escape broken branches in spring.

    Jean your pictures are beautiful. I love the first snow.

    • January 29, 2012 4:34 pm

      Debra, We were lucky in that this was light, fluffy snow and not the heavy, wet stuff that can damage young trees. This wasn’t our first snow of the winter, but it was the best so far.

  7. January 23, 2012 8:53 am

    That is my perfect kind of snowfall as well…perfect because it covers everything nicely and it is easy to walk through. We have not had much snow this winter, as of yet….a few dustings. We have had a couple of ice storms. I hope some of your 7-inch snowfalls come our way.

    • January 29, 2012 4:36 pm

      Michelle, I’m back in Gettysburg, and the weather forecasts certainly don’t hold much promise of light, fluffy snowfalls. I consider freezing rain the worst possible weather, and we get a lot of that icy winter weather here. (I can never decide on those icy mornings which is more dangerous to life and limb — trying to walk to work or trying to drive to work.)

  8. sequoiagardens permalink
    January 23, 2012 10:46 am

    How magical, Jean… and all so totally beyond my ken. The last time I saw snow close-up was in Switserland in 1975. In 1973 I drove through snow going down to the coast for my grandparents’ golden anniversary. And the last time I actually WALKED in snow in South Africa was – wait for it – 1964! I remember crying because my hands hurt when I held them under hot water to heat them, and my mom fussing. And that is almost all I remember other than the colour…

    • January 29, 2012 4:39 pm

      Jack, It is magical — although I’m not a big fan of driving in snow. I remember how frustrated I used to get when I lived in southern California in the early 1970s; you could see snow on the mountains, but you couldn’t get to it without several hours of driving — such a tease. (Those of us who live in cold, snowy climates have whole collections of warm gloves and mittens, and hats.)

  9. January 23, 2012 1:21 pm

    “This was the kind of morning when muffled sound and softly diffuse light tell you before you even open your eyes that a winter wonderland awaits you.”—that is such a perfect description, I can feel it.

    • January 29, 2012 4:40 pm

      Thanks, Carolyn. I think those who have experienced this know just what I mean.

  10. January 23, 2012 1:22 pm

    The same storm hit Connecticut during the day on Saturday, Jean. Twelve inches of light, fluffy garden insulation. Absolutely beautiful.

    • January 29, 2012 4:42 pm

      Hi Joene, This was actually an earlier storm than the one that gave you beautiful snow on Saturday. Yours went out to sea to our south and just gave us a few flurries, but it’s the one that changed my plans to drive back to Pennsylvania on Saturday. (Sunday turned out to be a much better driving day.)

  11. January 23, 2012 6:09 pm

    We were supposed to get a bit of rain and ended up with a bit of snow instead. I’ll take what I can get! Your new garden blanket looks beautiful! :o)

    • January 29, 2012 4:45 pm

      The snow you got on Saturday was still on the ground in Gettysburg when I got back here on Sunday night — but it didn’t last long with temperatures near 60F during the week! Yesterday, I noticed hyacinths and daffodils coming up in my garden — in January! I can remember one year when daffodils bloomed in Gettysburg in February, and I’m beginning to wonder whether that will happen this year, too.

  12. January 24, 2012 12:32 pm

    It does look wonderful Jean, still waiting for the snow in the East coast of Aberdeen. What’s wrong with us, when and if it does arrive all we seem to do is complain about it.

    • January 29, 2012 4:48 pm

      Alistair, have you gotten any snow to complain about yet? In Maine, we have the same love-hate relationship with hot weather. We wish and wish for some warmth, and as soon as it gets over 80F (about 27C), we start complaining about it. I don’t usually complain about snow until late March. By then, I’m sick of white and yearning for spring color.

  13. January 24, 2012 9:58 pm

    I love the sounds, or lack thereof, after a snowfall…not quite enough to live in it, but do enjoy it when I visit the snow once in a while! I think winter for both of us was strangely warm early on with a lack of precipitation. We made up for lack of rain this weekend. No rain for 2 months…then whooosh! 7 inches all in one go! I’m ready for spring!

    • January 29, 2012 4:49 pm

      Yikes; that’s a lot of rain! (even by California standards). Did you have flooding or mud slides?

  14. January 26, 2012 11:59 pm

    Picture perfect! (It gives the ideal vision of peace and serenity.)

    • January 29, 2012 4:50 pm

      Shyrlene, It was all those things — perfect, peaceful and serene.

  15. January 27, 2012 12:20 pm

    Jean, I agree with Carolyn. Your description of the sense of snow having fallen is perfect. It takes me back to those wonderful moments in Massachusetts when we awoke to heavy, soft, new snow. Not much chance of that where we are now!

    • January 29, 2012 4:54 pm

      Jill, I grew up in Massachusetts, so that’s where my strongest memories of this kind of snow come from, too. The other part of the memory was that if we woke up to a radio playing loudly in the house, that was my father (who usually left for work about 6 a.m.) listening to hear whether the steel forge where he worked was closed for the day or starting late, and it almost always meant a day off from school. I guess a 7″ snowfall where you are now would be a sign of a climate seriously out of whack!!

  16. January 27, 2012 9:26 pm

    The pics look great. We have not had any real snow this season. It rains and rains. I wonder how long hosta can hold their breath. It hasn’t been cold enough, long enough for the hosta to go dormant. Thanks for your comments. I missed reading your posts. jim

    • January 29, 2012 4:55 pm

      Hi Jim, Thanks for visiting. We’ve been having a lot of rain in Gettysburg, too; but that’s pretty normal here, and we have gotten a little snow and some cold.

  17. January 29, 2012 12:42 pm

    This must be your ode to snow. I must admit, there is nothing like the morning after an overnight fall — the silence, the softness, and the way the snow gathers on the branches. Your photos and words captured it beautifully.

    • January 29, 2012 4:56 pm

      Kevin, LOL, I’m an unabashed snow-lover. I could probably have “odes to snow” as a category in my blog. 🙂

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