Hope vs. Patience

Ho boy! What a streak we are on! 9 days without more than a trace of snow. The good news is the sunshine and temps in the 40’s this weekend really did not melt much of the snow at all. Between the low sun angle and the fairly low humidity, not much heat was able to get to the snow. We did lose a bit and it also settled a bit further, but by no means a major meltdown. We have tomorrow and Wednesday to get through and then cold and some snows arrive.

The past week to ten days sure has reminded me a lot of the winters when I lived 400 miles south. We would get enough snow to cover the ground and even play in, but were a couple of inches shy of making it epic for southern WI/northern IL. Then a dry spell would hit and we would slowly watch the snowcover shrink, until a rain event or thaw hit and got rid of it all. I have to admit that the weekend’s weather made it seem like April around here. It is VERY rare to have 3 days in a row with sunshine and temps in the upper 30’s to low 40’s in December. But like I say, the damage has been fairly minimal in this neck of the woods.

It got me to thinking about the difference between a snow-less stretch in winter here and where I came from. Down there, it was way more common to have a snow-less stretch occur for a week to ten days, or even more. In fact, most winters were full of snow-less stretches. So it was more about HOPING for any snow. Up here, the snow-less stretches are way less common and usually not much more than a week. We know that based on the standards for areas like Minneapolis, Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, our winter is going to be epic. 140″ of snow at the bare minimum. That would be double the record winter for some of these areas. So up here it is not about hope, but patience.

Now, I am not saying that it is any easier to endure. Quite the opposite sometimes. Down south, I just had to resign myself to the idea that it was going to be a rare occasion that we had enough snow to play in for very long. So the lack of snow was a different kind of frustration. One in which you just had to recon with the idea this is how it is! Up here, the frustration is probably a little bigger, but is also tempered by the knowledge that it is not a matter of “if” we will get more snow, but “when”. Not a question of “if” we will have several feet on the ground, but “when”.

The funny thing is that the vast majority of the locals around here also seem to be a little frustrated by the lack of snow in the past 2 weeks. It has really become the talk of the town. There are still those that are praising it, but some folks that I know that typically do more complaining about the snow all winter long are now wishing we had more. Perhaps they are just putting on a show of sympathy to try and make me feel better, but it sure does seem like they are being genuine.

Based on the current state of affairs and the forecast, I can all but guarantee we will have a white Christmas up here, which has more meaning to it for us, as we are not heading south to my moms for Christmas this year. Grace has a lot going on and with the three dogs, it presented to big of a challenge. I know all of the Dee’s are hoping for a gigantic snow storm to hit Christmas Eve and continue into Christmas Day, but that does not look to be in the offing either. What ever the case will be with the weather, we will have a happy and fun Christmas for sure!

The past week was another busy one for me. Tuesday the new groomer arrived for our club. To un-complicate the shipping process, they take the tracks off before putting it on the flat bed. This keeps it under the width, where a wide-load caravan is needed. I had never seen one without the tracks on it, but was amazed at how naked they look! The tracks sure do comprise a large part of what you seen when they are all put together and running on the snow.

They also do not work very well without their tracks. In fact, they cannot even move under their own power! The wheels on them are not powered, just there for support. The tracks are driven by sprockets in the rear and those sprockets do not touch the ground. So we had to have a lift come over and help get the groomer to the tracks. The machine is then pushed onto the tracks by the lift, until enough track is behind the sprocket to lift the track up and over the sprocket. The machine is then driven forward very slowly and the track is helped along until both ends meet. The ends of the track are then joined together with some mounting plates and a series of bolts.

It was a busy day at the groomer barn, as some replacement belts for another machine arrived with the new machine. So there was a crew inside the barn and had separated the tracks from the machine in order to replace the belts. The tracks are made up of the belts- they are the 3 strips of rubber you see on each track section, the cleats, they are the pieces of rubber that actually run perpendicular to the belts and make contact with the snow/ground. The cleats also have the guides on them to keep them placed on the wheels and sprockets properly. The third part of the tracks are the clips. They are the metal pieces you see bolted on and connect the belts to the cleats. All of these pieces are wear and tear items that eventually need repair or replacement. I believe all 5 of the machines in our fleet are ready to go. All we need is more snow!

Wednesday was an early release day for Gracie, so I went and picked her up just a little past the midday portion of school and we went and had some hot chocolate and a sweet at a coffee shop in Calumet. Then we came home and took Huck and Millie out into the woods for a walk. There was still plenty of snow on the ground and it was great to be blazing a trail through the snow and watching Grace and the pups have fun in the snow. We came upon a perfect white pine for climbing, so up Gracie went. With the snow on the ground, I let her go up a fairly considerable amount, even without her helmet on. After that, it was some more wandering around and taking it all in, including some snow covered mushrooms and then we headed in to warm up.

On Saturday, Copper Harbor at the lighting of the Christmas lights, a visit with Santa and fireworks. Nora helped coordinate a sleep over with two of Gracie’s friends, which also included heading up to the harbor for the festivities. The firework show is pretty short, but also dramatic, as they use all low altitude shells so that they do not disappear into the clouds that are typically present for the December show. No clouds this year, but still a fun show to watch.

I guess that almost covers it for this one. Except for one thing. The reason why I did not write yesterday! It was because Nora and I traveled to the southern UP near Manistique to pick up Bleau! His three week training session had finished up and it was time to bring him back home. The trainer did an awesome job of teaching him the basics and a bit more and he was an awesome student. Even though he has only been home for around 24 hours, it is clear there is a huge difference in his behavior. We now have a perfectly working on/off button for him, which is used to correct any unfavorable behavior. By this I mean a set of commands, not a shock collar. The trainer works using praise/respect and not fear to teach the dogs. We still need to keep working with him on the commands, but so far he has done an excellent job and it will likely be a matter of short time before he can be trusted to do all of the tasks 100 percent of the time without a lead on him.

I know I loved having him home with the other pups today. No more stressing about if he is getting into trouble or struggling to have him stop doing something I don’t want him to do. He is such a sweetie, still a pup, so still full of energy, but so well behaved. He is already showing Huck and Millie up! No pictures of him to share this week, but I will be sure to have some next week. I can say that including his fluff of fur, he now takes up more real estate than Millie and probably is tied with Huck. He is only 5 months old, so he is going to be a big boy!

Good night from the Keweenaw..