Going, going, OH DAMMIT ALL!

Going… 3/22/20 8:00am
Goinnnggg…….. 3/22/20 11:00am

The giant snowbank in front of my store had slowly diminished over the past couple of weeks until it was but a wee speck of dirty ice lying amid dirty dead grass and dirty winter dirt. All that was needed was a quick raking and a little rain to clean it up and let the grass turn green again.

But, NOOOOOOOoooooooo!

Instead, the wind came out of the north and this happened!

DAMMIT ALL TO H*#&!!! 3/23/20 5:00pm

It’s pretty and all, but it could have waited until next winter. Say la vee, or however they spell it, I’m feeling phonetic right now! This too, shall soon pass and spring will return to the stage.

Changing

Budding, greening spring
peeping, calling, chirping sing
blooming flowering bling

T.Blodgett 3/23/20

That’s all I’ve got for now, I’ve been brain blocked and time crunched lately. Seems I’ll have a little more time on my hands for a while and will be getting back on the blog track.

Please take care of yourselves, mind and body. Reach out if you need a kind word or or an ear to listen. Be well.

Terrible Beauty

During the storm 2/7/20
Moon set, about 4AM, 2/8/20
Thorns of ice at dawn 2/8/20
Morning light 2/8/20
Sunrise Halo
The street I live on about 10AM
Behind my home 2/8/20
Snow and ice 2/8/20
The sun setting behind ice coated trees. 5:00, 2/8/20

Yesterday, February 7th, a spiteful stormy day dawned with freezing rain which turned to sleet midmorning, and finally changed to snow at 12:30. By 1:00, the roads were slick and dangerous. About the same time, the lights flickered, went out, and came back on. The pattern repeated itself several times until 5PM when the lights didn’t come back on. Hundreds of others are in the boat with me wondering when we’ll be rescued.

I went home, a quarter mile away, and got my trusty generator. Ya see, I had a bait tank full of, you guessed it, bait! With the power out and no aeration, they were gonna go belly up in a hurry. I fired it up and saved 40 to 50 pounds of minnows.

There was only one problem, the power didn’t come back on. One hour, two, five, midnight! Feed the generator every couple of hours, check the bait, it’s getting cold in here. 2AM, the wee hours, moon set 4:30 am, the cold hour before dawn, still no power. Did I mention that I spent the night at the store?

Dawn broke clear and cold and unbelievably gorgeous. My poor cameratography didn’t do it justice. No problem though, I’ll get a chance to try again tomorrow morning. As of this writing, 6:38 pm, 2/8/20, the power is still out and the estimated time of restoration is 11:00 pm Sunday night, 2/9/20…

IF we’re lucky!!!

Such is life in upstate New York, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Winter’s return

Snowy night from my window

Finally the warm spell broke and polar weather returned! Winter is Good!

Winter without snow is like jelly without peanut butter. It’s okay I ‘spose but it’s not right. Everybody and everything suffers when the season is unseasonable. We need winter to be wintry.

So, there I was, comfortably seated in my chair, when Rose says, “Come look out the window, it’s really pretty”. So I did. I didn’t expect the camera to take that good of a picture. It actually captured the scene as I saw it. The next morning, the view from the same window looked like this…

Snowy day from my window

Now, that’s more like it!

And now for your reading pleasure, an All Outdoors column that I wrote January, 2017, when we had a similar weather pattern.

Winter?

All Outdoors by Tim Blodgett

Here we are again. We should be doing wintry things but we can’t because Winter seems to have to have taken a vacation and left Spring to mind the store. I’m a big fan of Spring, but I don’t like it dropping in unexpected right when I’ve got winter on my mind. My winter weather loving compatriots have been moping about for the last week or so watching the snow and ice turn to slush. If I could control the weather, winter would arrive a little early, stay in character for the duration and leave before its welcome runs out. Unfortunately, I’m not in charge and Winter has made a hash of itself. Why does this happen every year?

Singularity!

 I went looking for an explanation of what the weather was doing and this is what I found. A “Singularity” is what the weather phenomena, “January thaw” is known as, meteorologically speaking. This is a very different type of singularity than the one associated with the demise of massive stars, crushing inescapable gravity wells and X ray bursts that would fry our planet to a cinder. Winter started off the way I would have made it, early and in character, followed by a cold early/mid January and then it stalled. Weather statisticians predict that the coldest day of the year should fall on January 23rd so, what happened this year? A “Singularity” defined as “a characteristic meteorological condition that tends to occur on or near a specific date more frequently than chance would indicate” is what happened! The January thaw doesn’t happen every year but when it does it typically happens roughly about January 20th– 24th give or take a few days. It’s right on schedule and perfectly inconvenient, again.

Now that we know what’s happening to winter, the next logical question is, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? The simple answer is, (you’re going to love this) nobody really knows why the January thaw is a thing. Meteorologists can point to weather maps that diagram advancing fronts, stationary highs and lows and predicted storm tracks. Weather satellites and stations relay the latest weather data giving us constantly updated weather information, feeding our weather obsession. We could clearly see, in the case of the recent weather, a warm air mass dominated the northeast and pushed the cold air in a polar direction. Many people would point to climate change as the driving force behind it all but it is likely to just be the inherent unpredictability of the weather. The January thaw tends to be more pronounced and happens more frequently in the northeast and north central parts of our country so, there you have it. I’ll take our unique weather singularity over other weather extremes even if it is inconvenient to all my ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling and snowman building friends. Maybe we should just plan on it happening every year so we can be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t occur. I went to several websites to research the information above. https://weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/is-january-thaw-real-or-a-coincidence and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thaw_(weather) are just a couple of the sources available. Satisfy your inner weather junky and check them out.

What’s next?

You will often find yourself on the losing side of the bet if you wager on the weather, at least in the short term, but general trends tend to be stable. Fear not, the cold will return and if the patterns are favorable, the ice will firm up and snow will again blanket the land. I will patiently wait for the ice to refreeze before resuming ice fishing this year. Before the warm spell, most lakes had safe ice and fishermen were catching limits of panfish and walleyes. A village of ice fishermen sprang up on the south end of Saratoga Lake as word of excellent fishing circulated through the fishing community. Big walleye, jack perch and gorilla bluegills were in a cooperative mood and were featured as the batter dipped, crispy golden fried guests of honor at many a dinner table. Small jigs tipped with spikes were fooling bluegills in 8 to 10 feet of water while perch were falling to tip-ups baited with small minnows in 15 to 20 feet. Rapala jigs were working for the perch also. The walleye bite generally started around sundown at 12 to 15 foot weed edges. As it got later in the evening, the walleye would move shallower as they foraged. Savvy anglers moved their tip-ups shallower in response catching hungry walleye in 6 to 8 feet of water. When the ice is once again safe try those tactics again but remember, the walleye will start moving toward the north end of the lake as spawning season approaches.

 Cossayuna Lake in Argyle is another lake to visit once the cold weather take hold again. Cossayuna is full of bluegills, crappie, perch and big northern pike. You even have a chance to hook into a Tiger Musky there. Panfish tactics will be similar to those used on Saratoga Lake. The pike and tigers will be looking for a big meal. Use tip-ups baited with large shiners or suckers for these trophies. When you hook one and bring it through the hole, try to handle it carefully, get your pictures and if you don’t plan to eat it, quickly return it to the water. They are ferocious predators but they can’t take rough handling and that 20 pound fish may be older than you. Even if the toothy fish aren’t biting, you can count on the bass to keep you busy. You can’t keep them this time of the year but they are fun to catch.

All you ice fishermen waiting for Lake George to freeze are going to have to think cold thoughts to help it along. Lake George is one of the premier destinations for the local and not so local crowd and usually doesn’t freeze until mid January most years. Our little singularity hasn’t helped things so we’ll just have to wait and cross our fingers for Lake George. If you must go ice fishing, head north and up into the hills. I won’t recommend any waters right now but use extreme caution if you venture out, just don’t expect me to join you any time soon.

Archery leagues are starting up at the local sporting clubs and are always looking for new people to join them. If you are not one for the snow and ice, this is a great way to keep active during the winter and your skills honed for next deer season. New 2017 bows will start arriving at the archery shops very soon so if you’re looking for something new, there will be a lot of choices. If you are looking for a new challenge, consider traditional archery. Shooting a re-curve bow or long bow is as much art as skill and can give a sense of satisfaction you won’t get from shooting a modern compound bow. If you want to see an interesting branch of archery’s evolution, stop down to my shop in Schuylerville. I just received a bow made by Martin Archery in 1974 called the Kamact MK2. It’s an interesting mash-up traditional and modern (for its day) technology. The technology wasn’t quite up to the concept so not many were made and very few survive today, I’m fortunate to own one and will be happy to show it off.

In conclusion.

They say “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” so I say “thank you for the lemonade” and will be eager to make snow cones if we get snow and Slushies if we get slush. There’s plenty to do this season even if it’s not what you were expecting. Old Man Winter and his boy Jack Frost will soon return to rid us of our singularity and brighten the landscape with a fresh blanket of snow. Until then, stay healthy, happy and enjoy a little lemonade. 

Winter Mix: An All Outdoors column

As you may have read in a previous post, I will be archiving past columns that I’d written for the Saratoga Today newspaper, and other publications. I want them to be accessible to you and to anyone who may be seeking a writer for free lance work.

Today was the first day that snow fell where I live and it reminded me of a column I wrote 4 years ago, almost to the day. I will post the entire piece at the end. This is how it opened;

Just a few days ago, my wife, Rosemary, tried to tell me that the small white particles falling slowly from the sky were snowflakes. I patiently explained that what we were seeing couldn’t possibly be snow. The first day of winter, December 22nd is still over a month away so it’s way too early for snow. The flakes, I insisted, were ashes from a fire, possibly a forest fire out west, carried aloft by the wind and were only now completing their long journey. She was unconvinced. “Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, now let’s go inside, it’s cold out here” I said. She said something about being in denial but I wasn’t listening because I didn’t like her tone. Winter will arrive soon, no need to rush it.

I enjoyed writing that and it was remarkably close to the actual conversation we had. We’ve been together for a long time and she’s wise to me, so I knew better than to try that line on her again. Today’s weather was a pitiful attempt at winter, and should be ashamed at itself for such a miserable failure. If It’s going to snow, then bring it on!

I know I’ll be regretting that later.

First snow

Winter approaches
bringing sorrow bittersweet
memories remain

The column submitted to Saratoga Today on 11/17/15

Those Weren’t Snowflakes!

All Outdoors by Tim Blodgett

Just a few days ago, my wife, Rosemary, tried to tell me that the small white particles falling slowly from the sky were snowflakes. I patiently explained that what we were seeing couldn’t possibly be snow. The first day of winter, December 22nd is still over a month away so it’s way too early for snow. The flakes, I insisted, were ashes from a fire, possibly a forest fire out west, carried aloft by the wind and were only now completing their long journey. She was unconvinced. “Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, now let’s go inside, it’s cold out here” I said. She said something about being in denial but I wasn’t listening because I didn’t like her tone. Winter will arrive soon, no need to rush it.

Last Casts.

Last week, I winterized my boat because it became clear to me that I wouldn’t have time to take it out again before the lakes froze. That doesn’t mean I’m done fishing though and you shouldn’t be either. If you’re so inclined, dress warmly and try your luck. Walleye come out of their deep water haunts to gorge on bait fish and I will recommend a few places you can reach them from shore. The state boat launch at Saratoga Lake is one of my favorite places to go this time of the year. The drop off is within casting distance and the weeds have died back enough to work a lure without getting hung up. I like throwing suspending jerk baits and swim baits. Work the jerk baits slowly and allow them to pause frequently. Swim baits work best with a varied retrieve that mimics the natural behavior of minnows. In other words, be the bait fish. I find that the fishing is best for walleye at sundown and into the early evening but any time of the day can be productive for bass and pike. Another place I like to go is Lock 5 on the Hudson River in Schuylerville. You can’t keep the fish there but they are usually cooperative. The biggest challenge is landing the fish you hook when you fish the lock wall. You will need a long (8 or more feet) handled net reach the fish or you will have to walk them around the end of the wall to land them. Try using a white twister grub or a tube jig to get them to bite. Swim baits worked parallel to the wall work well too. You never know what you’ll catch in the river, so be prepared for anything. Any of the other locks on the Hudson and Mohawk rivers would be worth a try also. If that’s not your speed, you can always dig out your ice fishing gear and get ready for the hard water season.

Where’s the Venison?

The extended run of nice weather that we have been enjoying has not played well for the deer and the deer hunters hoping to fill their tags. Sure, deer have been active playing deer games, but according to most of the hunters I’ve spoken to, the games are being played between midnight and 4am and witnessed only by their trail cameras. Deer are wearing their winter coats now and are laying low during the balmy days of late. Until the weather takes a wintery turn or the rut really kicks in, hunters will want to be in their stands before sun up or be ready during the waning of the day for the best chance to get a shot at deer moving between feeding and bedding areas. I’ve only been out a couple of times myself opting instead to go fishing on warm days. I love to hunt but when you don’t have a lot of free time, taking care of a deer shot on a 60 degree day can be problematic. You need a reliable plan if you do take a deer on a warm day. Either have a butcher on retainer or a couple of friends and an empty freezer if you want to avoid seeing your efforts go to waste. It doesn’t take long for meat to spoil and you owe it to yourself and the deer you shot to make sure that it doesn’t. Deer activity will increase as the temperatures drop and their procreative juices start flowing. Patience and a steady aim will serve you well in the next few weeks.

Drilling for fish.

Winter may be a month away but it’s not too early to prepare for the excitement of ice fishing. Too often we wait until the last minute to check our gear and that strategy often ends with a bite to the posterior. Change the blades on your auger and get it tuned up if it runs on gas. Dull blades or an auger that won’t run will ruin an excursion before it begins. Replace leaders on tip ups and line on jigging rods or all you will come home with is a fish story. A lot of ice fishing equipment can be hard to come by when the season is in full swing so make sure you’re stocked up with the things you need by shopping now and special ordering hard to find items if needed.

Pretty soon, the small white things falling from the sky will undeniably be snow so get your gear ready and be sure to sharpen your shovels for what will soon arrive. In the meantime, I’m content to stay in denial.