Nope, not the decade. In fact, there are probably as many reminders of the 70’s up this way as there are anywhere in the good old USA. I’m talking temps. Officially, the Houghton County Airport has yet to hit 70 degrees or warmer this season. Same goes for my weather station. The warmest both have reported was 67 degrees on April 25th. For the first time this spring, I can report that no snow fell in the Keweenaw. Well, at least not what I could gather. It tried pretty hard on Thursday, with a cold rain and our temp at 36. The algorithm that colors the radar returns in different colors to represent different precip types (green-rain, blue-snow, pink-ice) did paint some blues way up at the tip of the Keweenaw and also into some sections of southern Houghton County and I also saw some pink in eastern Baraga county Thursday afternoon, but I did not get any official reports of wintry precip reaching the ground. At times, it looked like the rain that was falling here was freshly melted snow though, as it had kind of a slushy look to it.
Not much good weather this past week either. We did need the rain, as things were dry and we are in one of our main fire seasons. Both the autumn and spring are the main fire seasons, as there is so much dead and at times dry, vegetation on the ground. Summer can be too, but unless there is a severe drought going on, there is enough green in the woods to keep the fire risk lower there. More open areas are at a bigger risk for fires in the summer. The rain did help to green up the grass a bit, but it has been so cool that I have not had to cut the law yet. The cool weather has also slowed the melting of the Laurium Glacier. That picture was taken on Wednesday, but there has been minimal melting since, with temps largely in the 40’s for highs and even some nights where the temps dropped below freezing. I am not sure it will make it to June, but its going to be pretty close, as our temps are suppose to remain on the cool side through this week and the holiday weekend coming up next weekend.
While we did not officially have any snow reported, there was quite a bit of it that fell in the mountains out west. I spent some time cruising through the NCN cams this week, watching it pile up in place like Paradise Lodge in Mount Rainier Nation Park. They still have a ton of snow on the ground up there. For reference, the object off in the distance in front of the pile of snow in that last shot, was a full sized van. The storm that him them midweek appeared to bring them around 2-3 feet of fresh snow and it looks like they have around 20 feet still on the ground. I am not sure if this was a record year for snow for them, but I do know that it was a record year for rains in lower elevations in that neck of the woods.
The cooler temps have also done two other noticeable things. One is to keep the bugs at bay. We were in the mid 60’s on Monday and Tuesday and a few black flies did come out to pester me when I was cutting firewood, but it was by no means the typical aggressive swarming that comes with the main hatch. The other insects have been largely missing as well. Way too cold for mosquitoes and on the warmer days some bees will buzz around, but that is about it. The other thing that the cool weather has done is kept the trees from opening up too much. I took this picture just about an hour ago. It’s kind of hard to tell from that picture as well as for all of you to compare things to a few days ago, but the buds have opened up a bit more and there is a tiny bit of green to the woods now- both in the trees and on the ground. It will be interesting to see how things progress in the next week, as we are to remain fairly cool, but typically by the end of May, the woods are close to fully filled out.
I guess a third thing is that Nora has not been chomping at the bit (at least in a noticeable fashion) to go and get her plants for this growing season. I know she mentioned wanting to head to the greenhouse yesterday, but then it got late and she did not want to drag Gracie and I into things, so it did not happen. I suspect that as we get close to the memorial day weekend, she will get busy getting plants and might even brave putting them in the ground, as June 1st is our average last frost date and any threat can be mitigated by tossing some tarps over the beds.
As ugly as the weather was on Thursday, it did turn around nicely for Friday, which was a good thing, because it was bike-to-school day at Gracie’s school. Last year Nora and I took her to a point where we were around a block away from the school and let her ride the side of a back road that is never busy. This year, Gracie and I parked about a half mile away and got ready for the ride. It was crisp, still below freezing, but the sun was up and no wind, so things were not too bad for our adventure to school. As we rode up, Nora was waiting for us, camera in hand to capture the moment. Who knows, maybe next year we will ride all the way from home! Not!
I guess the cooler weather has been good for spending time in the shop. I think I went in and did some work just about every day this week, but some of the visits were fairly brief, so I do not have any completed projects to share with you. Perhaps next week. I have had some company in the shop this week as well. The pups don’t mind coming in there with me. They will just hang out and every once in a while start wrestling with each other. My other company came from Gracie. She helped me cut some wood yesterday and in the process, I picked up a few cedar branches that I wanted to keep for future use. She decided she wanted to do the same and then when we got to the shop, I saw her trying to strip the bark off with a flat head screwdriver. She is getting to the age where she can use most hand tools with supervision, so I broke out my small draw knife, illustrated to her how to use it and what not to ever do (touch the blade) and she went to work shaving the bark off the limb. I am proud to say that the limb is now completely de-barked and she did a great job and did not hurt herself. While she is pretty fearless, she is also one to follow rules very well. I am not sure if woodworking will be something that grabs a hold of here as strongly as it did me, but I am enjoying every minute she is in the shop with me now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..