Foot of snow too late for white Christmas
By Roger Pitt
Mike Alft had a nearly perfect Christmas as he and Amy became parents of a healthy, holiday baby girl.
Mike and their son Colton were having a post-Christmas breakfast Monday. It was overcast, but still warm and the ground was bare, grass mixed with spring green and winter brown.
A melancholy Mike mused, “It doesn’t seem like Christmas with no snow. A white Christmas makes everything cleaner, brighter. I am talking an inch or two.”
I heard it a dozen times as Christmas approached.
That brings to mind the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”
A few hours later, Mike got a belated answer to his wish as it began snowing.
Two inches of wet, heavy snow grew and grew over several hours – with the top two-thirds having less water.
When it ended, the depth varied from 10 to 14 inches.
It was enough to keep many people snowbound early Tuesday if not for the day.
Mike was right.
It was cleaner, brighter and decorated the trees and bird feeders viewed Tuesday through the bay window and comfort inside my house.
Moving that depth of snow is challenging in itself, but the water content slowed the cleanup both by machine and shovel.
Joe Auer said he did “just enough to get around” his farm along State Highway 54. He cleared a trail to the highway and access to his barn, housing recently born lambs.
The snowblower is propelled by the power take off of his tractor. “You need to back up all the time,” Joe said, with a sly grin, a signal that there is more meaning to his comment.
Joe is a “feel good” guy who always sees the fun side of life.
Sid Freeman said he was thankful for good neighbors.
“I did a little shoveling from the porch to the sidewalk. One neighbor cleaned the sidewalk and another [cleaned] the approach to the garage. They don’t know how much I appreciate that.”
“You got snow. Are you satisfied now,” Dick Fritz asked the 8 a.m. snowmobiling enthusiasts – Al and Tom.
Tom and other members of the Northport Snowriders club, one of 17 local clubs grooming Waupaca County trails, have been prepping trails in the New London area.
Ron Popke cautioned, “The trails won’t be open even with the snow. There is too much water standing in all the low spots and need to freeze over to be safe.”
Tom Handschke on Sunday confirmed that. “With the amount of water and depth of snow slowing freezing, it could be a week or more before the trails are safe.”
We were lucky that the snow was not another early winter rain because the Wolf River is already full to its brim.
The river crested at 9.25 feet about a week earlier, a level high enough to flood some low areas within New London. The reading New Years was 7.1 feet, keeping the marshes flooded that are routes of several trails.
The recent river levels were slightly higher than last spring, but are normal most years. Weather recently has not been normal – locally or nationwide.
Snow and icy roads were common in Texas and southwest, while New York experienced a balmy Christmas with highs in the 60s. Our Christmas was snow free and above freezing. The local temperature, according to my electric bill Nov. 17 to Dec. 21, averaged 35 degrees compared to 25 a year earlier.
An extended dry spell preceded the relentless December rains.
A little shoveling was enough for me. After shoveling about three feet in front of the garage doors, I left the heavy work for John Rowl to clear my long driveway lined by pines with his plow.
Shoveling snow was something I enjoyed when younger.
Usually it was sidewalks and the short approach to the garage at our home in Amherst Junction.
Monday’s snow reminded me of a similar storm about 60 years ago when the local butcher Mike Miedaner had me shovel the driveway. It was about the distance between home and second base, and reached near the top of a picket fence along one side.
Later Mike had me tend the furnace located in a shed at the rear of the meat market that also heated the living quarters above. There never seemed to be enough heat and I kept stoking the furnace with coal and kindling wood.
When Mike and his wife returned home several days later, she found candles and anything that could melt were drooping or puddles of wax.
I did more shoveling for Mike, but never tended the furnace.
The beauty in the wake of a Wisconsin snow makes winter special and any inconvenience tolerable.