Good tidings, Ulster County.
The temperature today, December 12, is a chilly 27° Fahrenheit, and now that the snow has stopped falling moisture is once again rising in the air to a humidity of 93 percent. A gibbous moon is still high enough in the sky that moonlight shines through the interstices in the clouds here and there, describing a sort of cloud-built arroyo in the sky with the telltale sidewinder tracks that water leaves behind.
Words are not to be trusted today. Gibbous sounds like a kind of monkey, though it means more than half, less than full. Must tread carefully.
Sunrise at 7:15 a.m. will begin to melt down a goodly portion of the snowfall throughout the day, bringing the temperature up to a high of 37° or so.
Now it brings us great joy this morning to check in with Bjorn Jorgensen out at Belleayre Mountain for the snow report rather than the mountain forecast.
Johannes: Bjorn, how does the morning find you?
Bjorn: Very relieved, very satisfied. A Jorgensen could not ask for more! Twenty-four inches of snow has fallen in the last 24 hours!
Johannes: I hate to correct you, but I believe you meant to say six inches…
Bjorn: Yes. Six inches, of course. As far as the eye can follow, all familiar objects have been overlayed by their snowy doubles. The talent of snow is mimicry. It takes on the shape of anything it covers. So there are bicycles made of snow and benches made of snow, trees made of snow and fences. Clotheslines and deck railings, staircases and automobiles, all made of snow.
Johannes: Soft camouflage from the heavens, Bjorn. Very good.
Bjorn: Even if one knew it was snow, one might still worship it, a holy trinity of steam, water and ice become more than the sum of its parts. Become something beautiful.
Johannes: That’s very much inspired, Bjorn. Is that wine you’re drinking there this early in the day?
Bjorn: It’s mulled wine, cooked with orange rinds and cloves and cinnamon sticks in a soup cauldron. This fire you see here that I’ve built in this ring of retaining-wall stones. I’m afraid I will not be skiing today. Which is a shame. If there were ever a day meant for singing and skiing, this would be it. The snow is vouchsafed to the slopes, and the mild temperature is not at all a deterrent. But the ankle is coming along, and I will have to stay off it. It’s minus five at the summit, by the way.
Johannes: That’s Celsius, Bjorn, is it?
Bjorn: Correct. That’s Celsius.
Johannes: Now, about your snowman. You didn’t think I was going to forget about Karl. He’s not too close to the fire, is he?
Bjorn: Not at all.
Johannes: He must also be pleased with the snowfall.
Bjorn: Yes, he is also much improved. His belly has been filled back in, and in fact the snowfall has augmented him. I gathered quite a bit for him, and he is larger all the way around and taller as a result.
Johannes: Well, clearly you’re going to make me jump in. Does Karl have anything to say?
Bjorn: Oh, you would not be interested. His usual tone is quite bitter. Karl would dismantle this mountain if he could.
Johannes: You sure you’re not hearing words in the wind?
Bjorn: Here’s the last thing he said, “Well, that’s typical. Blame the poor for their condition they find themselves in without attempting to address the underlying inequalities of the system that put them there.”
Johannes: That doesn’t sound like the wind, Bjorn.
Bjorn: It’s not me. I told you, Karl says such outrageous things. You know I am more traditional. Hold on. Yes, Karl? Okay. Johannes, forgive me, but that is not actually what he said, and he is insisting I repeat his words verbatim.
Johannes: As well you might, Bjorn. Don’t censor your snowman.
Bjorn: I just want you to be prepared.
Johannes: I’m ready whenever you are, Bjorn.
Bjorn: Okay. Here is what Karl said: “Well, that’s typical. Blame the poor for their sores while the system rewards the whores.”
Johannes: Well. A nihilist snowman!
Bjorn: I would not exactly call him a nihilist, but he is very passionate. He prefers the anarcho-syndicalist model. I think he may just be an intellectualized reactionary. He knows he’ll have to melt when the spring thaw comes.
Johannes: Shhhh. Can’t he hear you?
Bjorn: It’s fine. It’s good to remind him of his place. Hold on. There he goes again. Too much education, says Karl, makes a worker unnecessarily dissatisfied with his lot in life. Or hers. Only he rhymed it, and it was much more vulgar.
Johannes: Well. Charming snowman. I leave you both comfortably ensconced in my warmest thoughts.
It’s unlikely that the clouds will move along today, and so the best we may hope for is to catch a glimpse of the moon when it rises tonight at 8:23 p.m. Other constellations we won’t be able to see tonight include Augira, the charioteer with a goat slung across his shoulder, and Cassiopeia, the vain queen tied to her chair.
Hidden behind the snow clouds again, the moon will set at 10:59 a.m.
High tide is at 3:57 p.m., with the salt and fresh waters of the Mahicanituck rising together three feet and six inches.