Dainty (8/30)

April 10, 2018

poetry 8-30 D-dainty

the cat comes in

on little snow feet

she makes her rounds

the day to greet

she moves around

without a sound

the air is sweet

with the smell of snow

she pauses now—

where next to go?



poetry 3-30 three bars

Through three blue bars

the world is white and wonderful

The sky sneezes snowflakes

in a cold that continues to cling

Nature refuses to be nudged nearer to normal

and the brightness of the blanket blinds us bit by bit

Why winter won’t wither away?


Two Days of Snow (2/30)

April 4, 2018

poetry 2-30 two days snow

Two days of snow in April

is not what you’d expect.

It’s true it’s Minnesota

but even we are allowed to have spring.


Two-times-ten degrees colder

than what we were expecting.

Yes, it’s Minnesota,

but even we are allowed to have spring.


One optimistic robin singing in the snow

is one more than I expected.

Hope sits in a tree in Minnesota.

I’m convinced we will have spring.



Winter weather, whoa!

April 11, 2013


Spring has not sprung. I was willing to overlook the fact that I wore longjohns and a parka to the Minnesota Twins baseball season opener. I don’t even mind that I can’t wear shorts yet—though many break them out as soon as the temperature hits 40F/5C. This is Minnesota, after all.

Mother Nature teased us with mild daytime highs last week. They were a little below average but still warm enough for people to wear shorts and to inspire me to drag my bicycle out of the storage room. It was an exciting development to pedal to work for the first time in months. After work I stopped at the local bike shop to enquire about a spring tune-up. I was told of my bike’s immanent demise, that I would be lucky if the thing didn’t fall apart right under me, and that with the labor and parts for the required complete overhaul, it would be less than $100 more to just purchase a new one. But I digress.

My friend Jon is hardcore and bikes everywhere all year. Even he was optimistic enough about the weather to make the switch from his winter beater bike to his nicer summer ride.

None of this was meant to be. The temperature went back down to around freezing and for days we listened to dire predictions about a late winter storm. Yesterday the drizzle began. Jon showed up on (I think he said) his wife’s beater bike because he had stored his already. An Instagram friend lamented that he’d have to switch the summer wheels on his car back to the winter. People do that? Another friend, Brad, was not looking forward to his #30DaysOfBiking ride after he got home last night.

I had been keenly radar-watching all day. The system was moving very slowly and Minneapolis was above freezing. I brashly predicted that the forecasts of six to twelve inches of snow would not materialize, that it wouldn’t be nearly that bad. I’d had a meteorology class in college in 1983, after all. Were you even born then? You would have seen me walking my dinosaur.

By the time I went to bed, the radar had bloomed. I knew I’d wake up to whiteness in the morning. I did.

ImageFortunately, the temperature hasn’t been spending much time below freezing. There were about 3 inches/8 cm of slushy snow on my sidewalk and it was raining snow. On the radio, the traffic updates reported slick entrance and exit ramps, and “too many spin-outs to mention them all.” I knew that in downtown Minneapolis where I live and work, things would be sloppy but the urban heat island effect would preclude too much slipperiness. What I wasn’t expecting to hear was that light rail trains were not in service because of ice build-up. In the eight winters that I’ve lived where I can use the light rail, I’ve never heard of service being suspended for any weather-related reason. Metro Transit does a nice job with the rail line. And really, the buses, too.

I personally was not put out by this storm. I don’t drive my car very much, and I certainly don’t drive it to work. I train, bus, bike, walk. I got to work this without too much inconvenience, except for having to wait while the Brothers Deli cooked my breakfast because I failed to phone ahead.


“Look closely ….. that’s the amount of rain we received last year June through October.” Photo by Bossy Acres. They grow organic vegetables. Get some this summer.

Sure, I might wish for milder temperatures and dry roads so that I can continue riding my dilapidated bicycle. But let’s all of us put aside the selfishness of our personal comfort and conditions for a moment and think about the bigger picture. Though it sucks to get a major snowstorm in April, for sure (and let’s face it, if it were 50F/10C and had been raining for a week, we’d still be whining), let’s remember the inconvenient fact that since last summer, Minnesota is in drought. Our late snowfalls and slow temperature warm-up are a boon for the farmers who put food on our tables. The slower melt reduces flood risk, which means more of the water can be absorbed into the ground rather than just running off. In a couple of months when you’re walking around your local farmers market in your Crocs with your wild children, you’ll be thankful.



“Priority parking shoveled out.” Photo by Harriet Brewing. They make Belgian-style beers. Go drink some.

This is Minnesota. If you’re going to live here, you must have a sense of humor about the weather, whatever it is and whenever it’s occuring. Just look at this photo posted by local brewery Harriet Brewing. They know people like Jon will still be out on their bikes, even in these shit conditions. This too shall pass.

Oh no, no snow!

March 10, 2012


It obviously doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that we’ve had a mild winter this year. As you may recall (and if you don’t, please review here), last winter was quite a different story.

I don’t do a lot of necessary driving in my car, so snow or no snow it’s not usually too much of a deal to me. Having said that, it kind of seems like when it does snow, three out of four times it’s on a bowling night. But maybe that’s just me being overly sensitive because I don’t do a lot of necessary driving and when I do drive, it’s noticeable when the conditions are less than optimal.

Regardless, my party line is that if it’s going to be cold, I think it should snow. But this year, I don’t even get that. It hasn’t been cold and it hasn’t snowed. We’ve had about three inches altogether so far. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. We’ve had about ten. I haven’t looked it up but I think that’s pretty close to the truth.

Last night I dreamed that I was biking over the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Though it was Todd with whom I had been discussing biking every day in April and he mentioned he was “Riding the Rockies” in June—May?—June?—May?—you’re not missing the Small Batch Revival, are you?—it was actually Jon, Christine, and Chris who were my cycling companions in my dream. And it wasn’t the Rockies, but a mash-up of Rib Mountain in Wausau, Wisconsin (okay, Granite Peak, whatever), and Lutsen Mountain up Duluth, Minnesota-way. It was “Riding the Rockies,” but all I wanted to do was get to a roadside motel, such as the Big Orange Moose place in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and have a Hacker-Pschorr, which I enjoyed when I got stranded in Mauston, Wisconsin, last year.

But I digress.

The point is, it has been unseasonably warm this year. That’s something you’re probably almost as sick of hearing about as the running commentary on the “front-runner” in the Republican presidential-nominee circus. 

I continue to digress.

Because of the warm temperatures, when I heard about a bike-every-day-in-April challenge I thought, oh, I can easily do that. In the non-winter season I do bike to work every day, and the challenge will get me out on the weekends, too. Though I prefer to walk home from work because it’s a very relaxing interlude, I can’t overlook the time savings of riding my bike both in the morning, when I would catch a ride on the light rail or the Number 7, and in the afternoon when it’s thirty-five minutes for the walk versus ten for the bike ride. Also, the downtown-traversing bike ride is a whole lot more stressful. But, because of the warm temperatures this year, I anticipate that I’ll start biking earlier, such as in April. Or on Monday.

Look at this forecast for the next week. Tomorrow I will take my bike over to the neighborhood shop and top off the air in the tires. How can I resist the lure of these temperatures?

Snow emergency? This whole winter has been a false alarm.




That???s brisk, baby!

February 9, 2011

Back in December, I shared with you our blizzard of the decade. I declared that if it was winter, it ought to be cold, and there ought to be snow. It’s two months later and winter has not let me down.

Overnight was only the second coldest of the winter so far. It didn’t quite go down to double digits below zero Fahrenheit like the other one did about a month ago, but at a certain point, splitting hairs over a degree or five is, well, pointless. It’s cold! 

I walk seven minutes in the morning to catch the light rail train that delivers me to the office, and thirty minutes hoofing it all the way home after work. It’s a good walk because it’s long enough to be beneficial as exercise, but not so long that it’s boring and I lose interest and don’t do it. The last winter or two have been relatively mild, both from temperature and snowfall standpoints. It’s true I have been overusing my winter boots this year, but I had completely forgotten until today about my wear-contacts-instead-of-glasses technique. It was so fantastic this morning to keep my face covered with double-scarfing and still be able to actually see where I was going, versus my usual alternating between a warm nose and only half fogged up glasses. Seeing is good!

I should have recalled this winter survival method sooner. I feel like it’s been since about October, but really, it’s probably only been since November that I can count on one hand the number of days that the temperature has been above freezing. I’m probably exaggerating by a month. Below-zero probably only started in December. About on Monday after the blizzard.

As a result of the prevailing temperatures, the snow has hung around. At my location in downtown Minneapolis, we got about fourteen inches of snow in the blizzard, then, during the next week, about four or six inches additional. I can remember one “stretch” of two or three days that it was above freezing, but not so radically that much of the snow melted. Not much of the snow has melted. 

If each day were equivalent to 10,000 years, this winter would be an ice age and the snow banks in my front yard would be glaciers. The little birdies that somehow stay alive and function in these temperatures would still be T. rexes and I wouldn’t have to wear my contacts and bundle up with long underwear, winter boots, double scarfing, two pairs of handwear, and two layers of headwear plus the hood of my sleeping bag down coat because the comet wouldn’t have yet struck and it would still be tropical.

So these, then, were the conditions today, at 8:00am and 4:00am. Things improved by a whole 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Crisp and clean with no caffeine. Cold? Yes. Minnesota? You betcha!



*Those two door slams in the birdie movie are my neighbor Jen coming home. Just in case you were curious.

Dasie and the Birds

January 2, 2011

One of the by-products of all the snow we had in December is that the lilac bush next to my front window is half-buried. So the little birdies that like to hang out in it have been forced to make use of the snowbank. The cats, naturally, are fascinated. A few times I have exacerbated the situation by tossing birdseed around.

Dasie in particular—my crazy Dasie—loves the birdies. On sunny afternoons, the birds’ shadows on the mini-blinds drive her nuts, probably because they seem closer and attainable. In fact, more than once I’ve seen Dasie leaping for a shadow. After Christmas weekend, I had to repair significant tears and slashes in the plastic covering the window. That kind of bummed me out, because that front window was the smoothest, tightest installation I’ve done in the 15 windows I’ve covered over the years. Oh well. If you look closely in the movie, you can see the clear packing tape I used for the patch job.

Anyway, today was not sunny, so the bird watching was a much calmer affair.


We had a blizzard! Here are the videos; check out the photos, too.

Snowing (Saturday 1:30pm): This was the scene all day Saturday.


Front Yard Tour (Saturday 2:00pm): Here’s a fun tour around my immediate front yard after the first of my two shoveling sessions on Saturday. Two of my neighbors had already shoveled on separate occasions.


Blowing (Saturday 6:00pm): By the time I went outside for the second time, the wind had picked up. The snow ended around this time, but then it got blown around.


Ruth and the dogs (Sunday 12:00 noon): Sunday I managed to be outside for over three hours. Most of that time was spent shoveling various and sundry. I also helped a couple people dig their cars out and took a walk around the neighborhood. My neighbor Ruth was a good dog mom and took Frank and Grey Girl out for a real walk. She’s Nick the Cat’s mom, too. She’s getting used to me documenting. I included it because who doesn’t love seeing doggies?


It snowed! Here are the photos; check out the few videos, too.




Friday night as the snow started around 10:13pm. If you look closely, you can see rabbit tracks crossing the sidewalk. I think one lives under my neighbor’s stairs.




Time lapse: 

Saturday at 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm; 

Sunday morning before and after shoveling. I can’t see too much out my window anymore!




Saturday at 1:30pm 14 inches; at 5:30pm 17.5 inches. That was about the end of the snowfall. Then it got windier.




Saturday afternoon I shoveled an exit trail from my garden level apartment. I did it a second time four hours later. It wasn’t too bad Sunday morning after a few more inches and overnight winds. However, it had to get worse before it could get better as I did a thorough removal from my door area, steps, and walk.




Before and after. I was nice and shoveled my neighbors’ deck and stairs. I figured I could do it tidily myself and minimize the mess below, or be annoyed at having to clean up after them later. I also shoveled my end neighbors’ steps and made a one-shovel-width trail. They’re in Mexico and I bet they’re laughing right now!




Post-shoveling view of my window from the outside.




Fortunately, blowing and drifting worked to my car’s advantage. It wasn’t too much trouble to shovel out my parking space. The drift didn’t go very far underneath.




Around the neighborhood: My immediate street has not been plowed yet as of 9:30pm Sunday (it was vacated by the city years ago, so we have a contract with private plowing). The city made one pass through the side street. Snow emergency routes like Cedar Avenue are in pretty good shape. Drifted snow in a nearby vacant lot.




Views from my nearest MNDOT traffic cameras Saturday afternoon during the storm.




I’ll end with gratuitous rabbit pictures: a neighborhood rabbit frolicked Friday night before the snow started; tracks on a drift in my yard on Sunday.

Signs of spring

December 11, 2010


This evening, as snowfall begins that’s predicted to be the heaviest in ten years, I thought we’d review some signs of spring and both reminisce about and look forward to happier times.

As spring approaches, the sun creeps higher and higher in the sky and the mercury inches up in the thermometer. There is no surer indication that it is April and the temperature has climbed to 40°F/5°C in Minnesota than our pasty, white legs sprouting out of a pair of shorts. Our lower appendages turned ghostly pale during the preceding six months and now they’re on full display. But we don’t care. It’s above freezing and we’re Minnesotan.

As soon as it hits 50 or 60F (10 or 15C), it’s time to start eating lunch outside. There’s a nice plaza a block away from my office that gets toasty sunshine on clear days. It’s very refreshing to get outside for a little while, especially when you don’t have to spend ten minutes bundling up to do it.


Whose mood isn’t brightened by the first daffodils to show their yellow sunniness, or the gentle fragrance from a lilac bush wafting in the breeze? Lilacs. Look at that snow. Can you believe it will be six months until we smell their sweet scent again?


If you’re a baseball fan like I am, spring means the start of the regular season. This past year that was particularly meaningful as the Minnesota Twins inaugurated their new outdoor park, Target Field. It true that some of the first games were rather chilly, but it was so fantastic to be outside watching a game with 40,000 of my closest friends. And we know that in just a few months we’ll be sweltering in the dog days of summer.


We will finish our little mood-jogger this evening with beer. You figured I’d get around to something beer related, right? Perhaps my personal favorite sign of spring is when the Bell’s Oberon Ale is released. Even its sunny label says good times are ahead, and while we’re at it, let’s fire up the grill. Oberon pairs very nicely with a delicious, juicy steak and grilled veggies.

Ah, spring.


April 1, 2010