Monday, November 11, 2019


November 11 -a bright, sunny, and cold day. One month ago, on October 11, we had our first snowfall. Yesterday's snowfall ushered in the coldest air of the autumn. We bottom out tonight in the low single digits, but we are at 12° F this morning. There is a brisk wind, so we feel chillier than the temperature might indicate. On November 11, 1940, Minneapolis received 16 inches of snow in a surprise storm -forecasting wasn't as precise back then. In 2005, the temperature soared to 64° F on this day while 1986 had Minneapolis bottoming out at -1° F.

The many lakes of our area are open water -not yet a skin of ice on them, despite two weeks now of well-below freezing temperatures. The other day a man near Cambridge, Minnesota, not quite an hour north of downtown Minneapolis, thought it cold enough to try his feet on ice that had formed on Skogman Lake. Based on my observations, here, the ice couldn't have been more than an inch or so thick. If you've been to the lake in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, you'll notice the ice ladders stationed around it in winter. I recall watching a father and child shuffle out on the ice one day. Tragedy was averted thanks to someone more vocal than myself, whose hesitancy requires some introspection on some other day. Minnesota doesn't know what ice ladders are and I will never know confidence on ice.

As October rolls out into November, I need to have a flexibility never required by my ocean-tempered, Atlantic coast activity. We don't always have what we need, do we? Curiously, the post I just linked to, above, finished with this sentiment:

"I've grown accustomed to winter, finding solace in the recess of growth and decay. As much as I think of a new season's garden, of tomatoes and greens, peppers and garlic, it's always too much. I aim to accept what can be done and what can be done, well."

Now that winter has come to occupy an additional three months of the year, my experience of its slippery possession is that of prey who's frantic contortions allow a brief but futile escape from the quickening claws of no longer. A winter, fast, I accept like death, but with a consciousness of afterlife that offers a view to the world I no longer inhabit, a world perceivable through the bright scrim of slow-moving molecules. 


planting bulbs frozen ground
Box store bulbs, fifty percent off, needed unfrozen earth to plant in. With this trouble, those bulbs should have been 75% off, no? Despite two weeks of frozen temperatures, I laid rumpled plastic, held down by bricks, over a patches of bare soil. When I planted on Saturday evening (yes, this dark at 5:00 pm), the soil was pliable under my coverings. Tulips and miniature iris -good luck!

Outdoor plants brought in for winter. Potted, pruned, and placed. Now, only fungus gnats, aphids, and watering to think about.


A hanging plant frozen in its basket

The vegetable beds, tangled, leafy, and snowed upon.

Remaining siding from this summer's window and siding replacement projects. I will do some of this indoors and wait for that forty degree day to come.

The rocks. In this location, under the replaced siding and adjacent to window wells, the builder had placed Hydrangea arborescens, you know -the spreading kind with giant flopping heads. Three Minnesota hardy azaleas were placed around the bay-type window to the left. Around the base of these, one and one-half inch St. Cloud granite (gray/pink/black coloration). In order to fix the siding and the kick-plate below it, the roots, the rocks, the clay, and eventually the plastic that laid deep beneath it all was removed. The hydrangea were removed a few years ago to make the driveway border. 

Many rainy days embedded the granite rocks into the black clay earth. After grading the soil to a proper slope, replacing the edging, laying new barrier fabric and sheet plastic to shed water, the granite is only partially replaced. It is frozen to the soil, now, but it also requires pressure washing to remove the clay, which will not happen until spring.

Despite the snow and the freezing, I am still working on a few outdoor things, like gravel around the apron of the studio and cobble edging to contain it, possibly some tree felling, and rebuilding the lattice that sits beneath the front porch. Given the early depth of cold, twenty to thirty degrees below average, isn't it yet possible that we will see ten to twenty degrees above average?