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  • Writer's pictureSky Moss

UPSTATE GEECHIE: A nice, long, cold, sunny winter ...

winter came. it hasn't been that bad

Thank you to Randy Reid and Catherine White. As I am writing this in the waning moments of BHM I cannot help but reflect on how talented you both are. Whether it is Texas or Maryland, you continue to represent the 607/E. Thank you for the forum.

My article this issue mirrors an earlier one. I am crushing on spring but reflecting on an Upstate winter that has been beautiful and remarkable.

Cold impacts people differently and there are levels of cold. In Golden Glow, 14871 territory, we saw consistently COLD temperatures for 1-10 weeks. As a grower, I love this scenario (TCQ). A sedate, frozen soil is at rest. We have had both snow and rainfall, and groundwater should be dependable all summer. The doldrums have levels.

If you are an Upstate head (this is my 46th winter exclusively in Chemung County) you get hardened. Some, OK, those with means and timidity, buy Florida/Arizona/Breesport properties and disappear for the winter. I ain’t mad.

This winter there was something uniquely beautiful about February. It may be my momentary positivism or actuality but, February was sunny. We had sunshine most days, they were often accompanied by obnoxious cold but the sun showed up. As I age my winter distractions change. It is cool. Rabbit season closed this week. I went once. Trout season opens in 33 days. I am excited.

The Chemung River froze over along quarter mile stretches. The ice got thick, 6-7” in many places. A quick thaw or a 24-hour rain will dislodge a river. That occurred 2/17/22. It was an ice event and by many accounts, frightening. I worked that day so I drove southwest, toward Caton and did not cross Fitches’ Bridge.

My wife took her morning walk and, while crossing the bridge she describes the sound of large trees, logs, cracking and tumbling. It was near daybreak so it made the scene seem more eerie.

Steve Wald posted the USGS graph via my friendship group. The resulting damage was humbling. The river has not reset due to temperature and precipitation. This picture is part of the aftermath. Slabs weighing tons, gracefully stacked, perfectly weighted and awaited dinner parties. It was an epic breakup.

As spring stays shy and reclusive, I talk to myself.

“When will the first snowbells pop? Daffodils are audacious, they will arrive soon. Forsythia is a great auxiliary vase flower. Lilacs are hardy AF. My lilies of the valley should have a good year. I cannot wait for my seed order. When did I shower last?”

This 2021-2022 winter has been perfectly cold. It is/was consistent in that sense. Snowfall was marginal and two of the largest storms featured a bizarre particulate. It was like shoveling wet sand.

I have not bought a snow blower, plow for my Husqvarna or consulted a snow removal service. This winter it was just Iya and I shoveling.

“They” say it keeps you young and others warn of heart attacks. No lie, last dig out was exhausting. This winter is perfect for growing gardens.

I am assuming the cold will remain predictable. Looking two weeks out, I am hyped. I will start my favorite hot crops on the windowsill next weekend. If the soil warms patiently after the hibernation it had, cole crops rejoice.

So excited! Sunshine changes everything. This was an exceptionally sunny February.

Bring on the Ides ...

Special thanks to John Trice for his drone video of winter in West Elmira and Big Flats.


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