… on good stuff in action

The world is an awful place.

We are divided.

They are the problem.

If it weren’t for them.

In the old days we looked out for one another.

Today people only look out for themselves.




But except…

This past weekend, we experienced some unprecedented, truly record-low temperatures here in the Northeast.

Being a rather lax follower of the weather (it’s pretty much a surprise each morning), I was first alerted to the fact that it was going to be really cold on Saturday via an Instagram post by Benjamin Williamson. Ben is an amazing photographer, and he was putting out the word (to those of us crazy enough to lean into such things) that conditions would be ripe for some serious sea smoke that weekend.

I took note.

For there to be sea smoke, it would have to be pretty cold on Saturday. The phenomenon occurs when the air temperature is substantially colder than that of the water, and the sea water here is currently 42 degrees (Fahrenheit). I did not know, until I checked the forecast on Wednesday, exactly how cold it might get.

Sure enough, the media flew into Panic-the-Citizenry mode, warning us about freezing in place whilst assuring us that global warming/climate change is still a thing, requiring us to remain crippled by anxiety (and to check back often for important breaking news and advice).

I read this as ‘Do all you can to hang on through the polar vortex, but you’re still gonna be dead… soon.’

Even the descriptions felt violent, with one source explaining that we were about to experience “weather whiplash” due to a piece of the polar vortex “breaking off” and crossing the northeast.

I didn’t even know that polar vortex secession was a thing, and was left wondering why this particular piece of the polar vortex was so much better at seceding than, say, Vermont has been over the years. My guess is that the Arctic’s Constitution is much less robust than ours. Probably because their original framers were very cold and wanted to finish up debate so they could just sign the dang thing and get home to their wood stoves.

Anyway, after all the panic from news stations, I headed over to weather.gov to get some historical insight.

Turns out the whole polar vortex dipping south is not a new thing, and happens on occasion. That which secedes eventually rejoins the rest (probably after signing a confidentiality agreement and receiving a hefty settlement check). They mentioned some notable occurrences in 1977, 1982… ’85, ’89… 2014…

Okay. So, not unprecedented.

But, dangerous as all get out.

Folks needed to be warm, inside.

Ditto for critters.

And even for those safe indoors, our heating systems weren’t necessarily going to be able to keep up with the predicted temperatures (-18/-20F, with ‘Real Feel’ (incorporating wind chill, etc.) predicted at -58F).

There was a chance that – if I went out on Saturday to take photos of sea smoke – I could, in fact, turn into a solid.


JoHn and I began to talk about it, we made lists and did preparation things.

We needed food for a few days, more if we lost power.

We needed to check on the generators for the same reason.

We needed to bring extra wood from the barn to the giant iron wood-holding hoop on the farmer/farmer’s/farmers porch, and fill the inside-the-house wood storage spots.

We reached out to friends who aren’t here this time of year, and anyone we knew who wasn’t going to be home that weekend, to make sure they had their thermostats turned up a bit higher than they usually did, so water pipes didn’t freeze… or burst.  Did anyone need us to stop by their house to do anything? Were they worried about anything in particular?

And you know what?

People called us for the same reasons… Were we okay? Had we done all the things we needed to do to stay okay? Did we need anything?

JoHn tends to be the one who heads out to the stores to stock up before a storm, and he reported similar conversations everywhere he went…

Folks offering solicited advice…

Folks offering unsolicited advice, with care and in earnest…

People saying, ‘stay safe’, and ‘stay warm’ (and meaning it).

‘Call if you need anything!’ was both implicit and explicit.

JoHn shared a handful of these conversations with me when he got home from his last errand, as we crossed into Friday afternoon. By then, the temperature began to drop so quickly that the display on his car dashboard looked a little bit like a NASA launch countdown.

I told him that, as I was researching what the temperature and wind chill would be come Saturday morning, I saw that the local YMCA announced they would be a warming station for folks who needed it. There would be several other warming centers, including town halls, and one of our local island restaurants. We marveled at the fact that this particular restaurant isn’t even open during the winter. The owners and/or staff of this restaurant were heading in to open it up – and heat the place – just in case anyone needed to shelter there.

All that good stuff – people being there for each other – was happening throughout our little community.

And, after all was frozen and done – and with some bumps and bruises along the way (and a few things still to work out) – we are okay.

The world is an awful place.

We are divided.

They are the problem.

If it weren’t for them.

In the old days we looked out for one another.

Today people only look out for themselves.

Well, with in-advance apologies to my Nana for my potty mouth…


Thanks for readin’.

p.s., I did go out on Saturday morning to shoot the sea smoke. It was absolutely frigid at a measured -11F, Real Feel – 48F. I was limited to 90 seconds outside before returning to my warm truck, fingers and cheeks stinging. It was painfully glorious, and magical.

I did create a 30 second video of the sea smoke, from the tip of our island here, as a reel on instagram (with one of my all time favorite songs, Mason Williams’ Classical Gas accompanying). I think you need an instagram account, and can click here to see it.

Comments and shares are always appreciated, and you can do that down below. You can also join fellow ponderers on Just Ponderin’s Facebook or Instagram pages. C’mon over to either one any time to join the conversation :))