Good morning from the Rondout, Ulster County, where the ghosts of the shipbuilders, bricklayers and stevedores climb the hills for a paycheck all night long.
It’s December 14. Chipping away at another minute of light, the sun will rise today at 7:17 a.m. It will set at 4:26 p.m. Nine hours and nine minutes of light, Add an extra nine milliseconds and make a wish. The three nines are a holy combination among the Norse.
The temperature is currently 24°, according to the thermometer hanging outside on a birch trunk under a credible moon casting a white light which reflects off the snow.
The moon will hang in the sky until it sets at 11:50 a.m. today
Now might be a good time to consider what the temperature actually feels like.
Clever scientists have gotten together some extra variables like the warm layer of air hovering around our skin like a nimbus from the heat of the circulating blood underneath. They’ve considered the effect of wind in pushing that warm air away as well as the effects of humidity, which in hot weather results in a process known as evaporative cooling. Hotter weather can up the ante entirely and cease to cool the body. Too much water in the air means nowhere for sweat to go. This is bad.
For our purposes, though, this morning’s humidity brings the cold into the bone like a watery knife.
All this to say, it actually feels like 17°. Thank you, scientists. for telling us us what we did not want to hear.
Now for the snow forecast we go out to Bjorn Jorgensen on Belleayre Mountain. What can we expect today, Bjorn?
Bjorn: I am saddened to say from what I have heard the forecast does not look very good. The weather is not cooperating and it may be that tomorrow nght’s expected snowfall turns to rainfall.
Johannes: That would be a disaster for your snowman, Bjorn.
Bjorn: And well he knows it, Johannes. Karl takes a very keen interest in the weather, and in fact it is he who anticipates rainfall. He has a gift for this sort of thing and claims he can feel it in his snow.
But you would not be surprised to know that Karl is very hostile toward what he refers to as the Lying Weather News Media. A bad forecast can be life or death for Karl, and apparently he’s been misled before. But I tell him we are higher up on the mountain and hold out hope for a wintry sleety mix at worst, which would give Karl a glossy, brittle shell. This might better reflect his interior, after all. So he has me out collecting bones.
Johannes: And what is the temperature currently on the mountain, Bjorn? Have you seen the summit?
Bjorn: I am pleased to say I have. You find me on the summit presently with the world arranged in hills and valleys at my feet in all directions. The temperature is currently – 9° Celsius, and there is a very brisk wind, I would say above ten knots. blowing out of the north. Unfortunately, there are other proud mountains which will not bend the knee. Otherwise I feel I could see all the way out to you where your river flows.
Johannes: Thank you, Bjorn. Minus nine degrees Celsius is the Fahrenheit equivalent of 15° if I’m not mistaken.
Bjorn: This is correct.
Johannes: Did you say your snowman has you out collecting bones?
Bjorn: Yes he has suggested this. Actually, I was beginning to crave the solitude of the summit, and I don’t like to let you down. Also, I find the climb bracing and with the swelling almost disappeared in my ankle, I don’t mind saying Karl’s conversation can be unrelentingly …. well, he’s a zealot.
Johannes: You can’t change his mind, and he won’t change the subject.
Bjorn: That’s very well put, Johannes. So I have killed two birds with one stone.
Johannes: He has you looking for bird bones?
Bjorn: Actually I have found quite a bit of rabbit bones. I passed through the killing fields where I had witnessed the drama in the woods.
Johannes: Of course! Have you seen her since?
Bjorn: I have not. But I believe she hunts there regularly .… I found many skulls. Rabbit skulls do look like odd bird skulls, Johannes. Large eye sockets and then a protruding area towards the front that tapers to where a beak would be. Fangs, Johannes. Rabbits have fangs.
Johannes: And what will you do with those skulls? Crush them up into a heathen tea?
Bjorn: Karl, I believe, means to forecast the weather with them.
Johannes: Science and superstition, Bjorn. Whatever works.
The moon will rise again tonight at 10:30 p.m. It will be 61 percent full. The high tide is already past.
Low tide will bottom out at 11:13. and the second high tide will rise again at 5:23 p.m.