Thursday, February 25, 2021

New Possibilities for the Rail Trail

 Joe's Ponders will be interested that there are conversations going on about the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) that follows the east shore of Joe's Pond, becoming part of Vermont's Forest, Parks and Recreation Department (F{R) in cooperation with VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers). VAST presently assumes maintenance of the trail - admittedly with a lot of volunteer help along the way. Joe's Ponders and others along the finished sections of the trail are great about clearing fallen trees and keeping the trail  clean and well kept; this is acknowledged and appreciated by everyone who uses the trail as well as VAST.

According to an article by Dana Gray in a rec4ent issue of the Caledonian Record, FPR commissioner Michael Snyder has presented a proposal to the Vermont House and Senate transportation committees about his agency assuming some role in the LVRT's maintenance of the trail. Many of us were elated when Gov. Phil Scott designated $2.8 milling in his 2020 budget, which the Legislature authorized. This money is expected to be enough to complete the 34 miles of unfinished trail that will connect all sections from St. Johnsbury to Swanton, but it is estimated that it will cost some $350,000 a year to maintain the finished trail. VAST has done a good job of keeping the trail in shape over the years, but it is a huge undertaking for one organization to  assume. A logical solution would seem to be for FPR to assume at least part of the responsibility.  FPR is funded in large part by user fees, but that would not be considered as an option on the rail-trail. The on-going costs will be worked out as part of the on-going discussion. Hopefully, the State of Vermont will see the wisdom of incorporating the trail into it's FPR responsibilities as the trail benefits the state in general, as well as the towns it runs through.

The rail-trail section that follows the shore of Joe's Pond has been an exceptional recreational resource for Joe's Pond residents over the years, and especially during this past very stressful year of Covid-19. People have been able to safely walk, bike, ski or snowmobile on the trail and in so doing, are able to keep in touch with their friends and neighbors to a greater extent than would have likely been possible without the trail. This section of the trail is well maintained, thanks to the personal attention it gets from home owners who live close to it. It is a source of pride and many people donate their time, and money, to keep it well cared for and beautiful.

In the meantime, we are enjoying one more snowy day - I measured another inch of new snow earlier and it has been snowing steadily all morning. The wind has died down from being very gusty this morning and now there are just big, lazy snowflakes falling gently to make our landscape very pretty - postcard worthy, I suppose. But we really don't need more snow. There is a lot on the ground right now, and while each day we get a fresh dusting to several inches, days like yesterday when the temperature was in the high 30s and low 40s help to settle the snow and give us hope there's an end to winter. Each day brings us a little more daylight and although we know that spring is coming, we also know that we have yet to get through March - and that can be a bear!

Monday, February 22, 2021

New Week, New Frustrations

After a really super-nice day on Sunday with even a hint of spring about it, today has been snowy, blustery, and cold. We've had snow squalls all day and lots of gusty wind blowing the two inches (more or less) of new snow around in big clouds of white rushing past my living room windows. I measured about 1.5 inches of snow this morning, but it has snowed off and on all day so when I went out again to get the mail after lunch, I think we had about 3 inches - with a little more drifted close to my garage door. I used the push scoop to clean that up and then Jamie came with the plow a few minutes ago to finish the job.

Snow and dreary weather was my first frustration, and then dealing with a couple of businesses - both of which had me on "hold" so I had to listen to that really terrible music that I've been told is designed to calm people down, accounted for more frustration. I don't know who can possibly be calmed by that - it is most irritating. Between the two companies I had to contact, I spent a little over two hours on the phone - but I got things straightened out. I think.

None of this was earth shattering in the big scheme of things, but I had other plans for how I'd spend my morning. 

Today is Georg Washington's birthday. He was born on Feb. 22, 1732. Of course, the actual date probably mostly goes unnoticed because his birthday is celebrated on the third Monday of February, along with Lincoln's, who was actually born on Feb. 12, 1809. If anyone celebrates the day at all. The shared birthday acknowledgement is now called "Presidents' Day" and may be mostly overlooked except that it is a federal holiday - and stores offer sales. I remember always celebrating those two presidents separately when I was in school. We read stories about them, made drawings, and sometimes did short skits to illustrate what we learned about each. There were pictures of both hanging in the main classroom of every school, I believe. I think Washington's was a copy of the Gilbert Stuart painting (above).  I don't recall Lincoln's quite as well, but I think it was a print of a pen and ink sketch of his profile. It was unmistakable. I wonder if students today recognize any presidents by sight. I suppose so.

I will be getting my second Covid shot on Friday. Like a lot of other folks, I'm hoping that having that supposed protection I will feel a little more relaxed about being out and about with others; but I'm hoping that everyone gets the shots so by summer we will see some real improvement in the reduction of cases and we will all be able to socialize a bit more. With caution, I suppose. But that's ok. 

Be healthy, warm and happy. Spring is coming!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Safe Landing

 Isn't it amazing that the landing on Mars went without a hitch? Andy Rudin sent me that link to the NASA site. Very impressive stuff.

Here at Joe's Pond things are pretty quiet. I think lots of people are getting anxious for warm weather. I've heard people talking about mowing lawns and gardening already! Seems far off, but actually, if you want a garden, you'd better order your seeds well ahead - it's probably a bit too late even now to get seedlings started effectively. 

I wasn't surprised this morning when I looked out my bedroom window and noticed that my grape arbor has collapsed under the heavy snow. I thought I heard something unusual in the night, but I didn't investigate because I wasn't even sure I'd actually heard the noise - there was a good possibility I was dreaming. But when I saw the grape arbor, I immediately suspected that was what I heard. I'm pretty sure there would have been some cracking and a thump as the branches were torn away and all that snow landed on the ground. No real harm done - it was made of old tree limbs criss-crossing to support the vines. Easily fixed in the spring - or torn down. I haven't decided. Perhaps it is time to do away with it. I rarely went there to sit, even though I've kept chairs and a garden table there every summer. It's a very peaceful spot. I'll decide later.

I hope you have all had someone check out your camp roofs to be sure the snow buildup isn't getting too heavy. I'm really glad I had Gene Danis get the snow off mine. It's very heavy. Gene's number is 802-473-6257, if you didn't happen to see it when I posted it on the 15th.

I can smell my meatloaf baking in the oven, so I'm going to go and take a look. Meatloaf, baked potato with sour cream, and buttered peas. It doesn't get much better than that. I have my neighbors to thank for reminding me how good it is - Jamie and Marie had meatloaf last week and Diane Rossi told me she made one this week. I couldn't resist making one myself!

Stay warm and safe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Beautiful But Cold!

 That headline sounds like something out of a Mickey Spillane novel, "She was beautiful, but cold as a mother-in-law's kiss."

We had lots of sunshine, but the thermometer hardly moved above the single numbers all day. Tonight is going to be zero or below. To top it off, there was a mean wind, too. That kept the snow moving. We may have had a little ice as the weather turned from warm to cold, but I didn't see any measurable coating here this morning. We are looking at another light snow for tomorrow and no real warmup right away.

In spite of the cold, there were several fishermen on the ice today - one at the middle pond and several on the big pond. There are a number of ice shanties near the fishing access, which is normal - and I noticed one person fishing well up the pond somewhere between Rossi's and Mason's. It must have been cold out there, but they must have been getting some fish or they wouldn't be there very long.

It looks like whoever bought the Leigh's place next to the former Berwick camp on Route 2, is living there this winter, so it might have been someone from that place - or it might have been Bob McKay, who is across Route 2 at Thom Lauzon's (Pond View Development which used to be Injun Joe's Cabins).

We are beginning to think "spring" even in the cold. Traditionally, March begins the main focus of the Ice-Out Contest. It seems early, but the contest closes on April 1, so it's important that the contest organizers have everything up and running at least by March 1. Depending on the weather, Larry Rossi will likely have the flag out in early March and we'll begin to hear more about ticket outlets and ice thickness. Weather conditions, snowfall and temperatures will take on more meaning for a lot of folks who study these things quite seriously in hopes of coming up with a winning guess. There will be regular reports here and posted on the Joe's Pond Association website.

One more thing - I had errands to do in St. Johnsbury today picked up take-out at the new Subway drive-up feature for my lunch. Subway has moved just a little up Railroad Street to the former bank building on Federal Street and the former teller's window is now a very convenient take-out window - and as always, Subway's sandwiches are very good. Where they were on Railroad Street, the parking was difficult, the place was small and there was no chance for a drive-up window. The phone number is an easy one to remember - 748-1212, or you can order on line. I've always liked Subway food, but I did miss the convenience of grabbing a cup of coffee at McDonald's after they closed in St. Johnsbury. I still like their fish sandwiches and french-fries on occasion. But now I have to go to Lyndonville for that treat! 

Speaking of french-fries - have you seen the setup Al's French-fries in South Burlington has now? That looks like a lot of fun for families or safe pod groups. I'm not sure how those tents would hold up if we had a really big snowstorm or windstorm, but it's an interesting experiment.

Stay warm and safe - keep your pets inside tonight and be glad you aren't in Texas!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Not So Much!

 We dodged a bullet with this storm - at least this first blast. I measured only three inches of new snow this morning, but by the time I got out there (I always measure at about 9 a.m.) we were getting a fine, misty rain and the snow had packed down a lot. Those three inches yielded .63 inch of water, though. Really soggy. 

I had to go out at about noon today and the roads were fine. There was still a mist in the air, but it didn't seem to be freezing onto surfaces. I don't know how high the temperature got, but I think it remained below freezing most of the day - but not by much.

It's pretty amazing what is happening with the weather across the nation right now. Southern states that have never experienced snow and cold weather are truly suffering. It's amazing that a state like Texas is having such a hard time with power outages. As hot as it gets there, it would seem that if they can handle extreme heat they should be able to handle the cold as well. Really bad for a lot of people who are totally unprepared. Our weather patterns are certainly skewed, and even though I've heard people say that these swings occur "every few years," history has not recorded anything like this before. There have been unusual years, but not like we're seeing now. I heard today it was colder in Austin, Texas than Anchorage, Alaska. I think of my granddaughter in Austin - she wanted to go to someplace warm for her last two years of college. She's ok, and certainly knows how to handle snow, but we still worry because of the power outages. Hopefully the school has emergency plans so she will be ok.

Stay warm and safe.

Monday, February 15, 2021

More Snow Coming!

 I'm feeling much safer today - Gene Danis just finished shoveling off some of my roofs in preparation for the snow that's coming. There was a really big buildup - I hadn't realized how much or how heavy it is until I went out to clean off the canopy over my basement door. I couldn't get it all, but it was so deep and heavy it had already sprung the door so my storm door wouldn't open all the way. That's when I put out the call for Gene.

Any of you who are looking for someone really efficient and experienced to do your roof - give Gene a call. His number is 802-473-6257. He showed up on time, got the job done quickly and cleaned up the snow so my doors and decks are clear. You should keep his number handy. He's not only thorough, his rates are very reasonable. 

`Now we wait for the next round of snow to hit us. Sometimes these storms don't amount to much, at least by Joe's Pond standards. We're pretty used to heavy snowfalls and windy conditions. But still, it pays to be prepared.

Friday, February 12, 2021

It's going to be at least a Two Dog Night here at Joe's Pond

 Yep, it's going to be cold again tonight. It's 5 o'clock and already my thermometer is reading only 6.7F. I'm not sure what the low was last night - it was minus 7 on my deck thermometer, so I'm sure it was at least three or four degrees colder than that nearer the ground. I just didn't bother to check. I didn't have to go outside to clear the deck and measure snow this morning - this was the first morning we haven't awakened to at least an inch or two of snow for a while. We do have the promise of "measurable" snow coming with the next storm that is raising havoc in the southwest and midwest. 

Good news here in Vermont that the next round of immunizations begins next week for those down to 70 years old. Here is a full report from the UVM Medical Team and it tell how you can get signed up. We're making good progress getting people vaccinated, and with more vaccine on the way, the outlook is pretty good. We may have everyone who wants to be vaccinated done by the middle of the summer (or maybe before, if all goes well. I think Vermont will certainly achieve that goal, and hopefully the rest of the nation will, as well. However, doctors warn we'll be battling this for probably another couple of years before things are really safe again.

The town went by today with their plow, winging back the snowbanks along West Shore Road. I smiled thinking of what my father would probably say, that it's getting close to town meeting and the road commissioner wants to keep his job. Perhaps that was the case years ago, but I think our present road crew does a remarkable job keeping the roads, no matter what time of the year. They watch the weather and try very hard to anticipate and be ready for big storms. I think my father would be impressed. The road by my house gets plowed very early on morning when we've had lots of snow and in a big storm they go by several times in order to keep it safe. They do a great job, and deserve a big THANK YOU.

It wasn't always that way, though - and I suspect my father may have had it right back in the day. But even then, I do think the road crew tried hard; it was just that they had much less effective equipment to work with and, I'm pretty sure, some much bigger storms that packed the roads solidly with drifted snow that was very hard to break through sometimes.  Besides that, they were traveling at a snail's pace with the big old crawler tractor plow - that was the only plow in town. They had to plow all night and by morning the roads they'd started on were packed in again. Keeping roads open wasn't an easy task. I'm actually surprised the town was able to find men who were willing to work in those conditions. It was cold, hard, thankless work for not much pay. Times have changed, for sure.

Stay warm and safe.

New Possibilities for the Rail Trail

 Joe's Ponders will be interested that there are conversations going on about the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) that follows the eas...