My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Friday, April 26, 2013

SkyWatch Friday: We got Zeused!

Winter storm Zeus, which thundered into town Sunday night and turned Monday's Earth Day into a Snow Day, was fittingly named by The Weather Channel. It's rare to find an image of a smiling, happy Zeus. Not famous for a sunny disposition, on his best days he was a gatherer of clouds and a world-class sulker...


Ruler of the Olympian gods of ancient Greece, and of the sky and the angry weather that suited his personality, Zeus was often battling or punishing someone. He overthrew and banished his father Cronos (though Cronos had it coming), is often credited with orchestrating the entire Trojan War, and is most notorious for his sadistic punishment of Prometheus. His weapon of choice was the thunderbolt, which he wielded with alarming frequency at the many who vexed him, though the image on the right suggests that he sometimes liked to add variety to his days by poking his enemies with a sharp cloud-stick instead...


Even innocent spring daffodils aren't spared...

poor doomed daffodils

...since it was Zeus who promised his daughter Persephone to his brother Hades, god of the Underworld, without her mother Demeter's knowledge nor permission. Bad move. Because when Demeter - goddess of growing things -  found out, she refused to let anything sprout, bloom, or grow. And so the earth went dormant and we mortals faced famine. 

I took the above photo of a neighbor's pretty daffodil patch just as Zeus began scowling down at us in the form of some ominous clouds ("gatherer of clouds" indeed!), and we knew his eponymous storm was looming and dooming the early buds and flowers to another wintery fate...


And when the scowling clouds turned truly angry...


...we knew this probably wouldn't end well for us and our daffodil friends...


The National Weather Service, meanwhile, figured the same thing, and turned our Winter Storm Watch into a Winter Storm Warning, with a predicted snowfall of 8-12". We got lucky, because although it snowed for 24 hours beginning late Sunday morning, the ground was still warm enough to prevent it from sticking until dark, keeping the accumulation to about 8" by the next morning and altering our landscape in Demeter-like dramatic fashion...


The snow wasn't the worst of it (except from a snow-shoveler's perspective); it was the bitterly cold temperatures left in Zeus' wake, temps cold enough to prompt an extremely rare mention in the national weather news

In the wake of the storm, temperatures plummeted. Sheridan, Wyo., recorded a low of 2 degrees below zero on the morning of April 23. Not only did this shatter the previous record of 15 above for the date, but it was the latest subzero reading ever recorded there -- by a margin of 18 days! The previous latest measured subzero low there was April 5 in 1936.

Lovely spring weather returned soon after and quickly melted most of the snow, so I revisited the daffodil patch Wednesday for an "after" picture but the gruesome results of Zeus' hissy-fit were just too depressing to photograph. So let's just remember the daffodils as they were last Sunday morning, cheerful and lovely and perilously optimistic, and hope that Zeus concludes this spring's parade of winter storms like it concluded the Weather Channel's alphabetical winter storm names list...

Daffy, we hardly knew ye...

48 comments:

  1. just amazing storm clouds! wow!

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    1. Yes they were, and it wasn't just for show - those babies meant business!

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  2. Wow - those clouds really are amazing and beautiful! Great shots.

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    1. Thank you! We first spied them on a walk with the dogs, and I couldn't get back home fast enough to get my camera and get these photos! The dogs probably wondered where the fire was, lol.

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  3. Ah, what a fun post! I'm glad that Demeter and Hades worked out a deal where Persephone could spend half the year above ground and the rest of us would get warmth again... Isn't it about time for that to happen yet? Come on, Hades. You've had her down there long enough. Let's all give Demeter (and the rest of us) a break!

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    1. Yeah! Sheesh, leave it to the god of the Underworld to be all clingy and selfish! :-)

      The story of Persephone was always one of my favorites (and one of the few Greek myths I could remember well, some of them being so convoluted and full of tongue-twisting names!) I thought it was a clever explanation for the change of the seasons.

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    2. Yes, it really is clever and one of my favorites too!

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  4. Wow - that was an angry sky, the gods must have been very upset!

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    1. Or Old Man Winter just wasn't ready to retire!!

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  5. What a storm for April! Do ya think that Demeter was joyful about the demise of the daffs? barbara

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    1. No, I imagine she was pretty torqued about the daffs! (I would have been!)

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  6. What a wonderful blog post!! Love the photos and story!! Especially love the Mehitable Day story!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm delighted that you enjoyed them and appreciate your visit! :-)

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  7. "Zeus's hissy-fit" about sums it up for the dafs . . . so I too would shift focus to the dramatic clouds. Thanks for sharing and thank you for your kind thoughts and comments at QDP. These events are a reminder that we are not "in control". What's important is how we respond.

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    1. Your insight is spot on.

      And by the way, in happy news: the daffodils have responded recently much as Boston did - with remarkable resilience! When I went by there yesterday, the daffs were showing amazing signs of recovery! They don't look nearly as robust as they did before Zeus, but they are definitely much improved and coming back. Our sunny, warm temps after the storm have clearly been restorative, and they're amazingly tough little buggers!

      You're very welcome, btw - and I very much appreciate your visit, too. Enjoy Boston's beautiful spring, those gorgeous cherry blossoms you've been photographing are so uplifting!

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  8. Zeus is NOT a nice guy. No one should have to endure snow after the daffs are in bloom. It just ain't nat'rul. those sky images are amazing. Tula would definitely be running and hiding with those looming. When did they decide it necessary to begin naming winter storms? They never name the nice days. Isn't someone (like me) going to bitch about that ;)

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    1. No, he definitely gets his toga in a wad a lot. :-) Unfortunately, it seems to happen every spring here, even as late as the first week of June, though these were obviously very unusual temps. More than tender young blooms (or tender young critters) should have to endure! Tula would have been wise to run and hide from these clouds. Clouds that looked like that in West Texas had us doing the same, as they often preceded hail or birthed tornados!

      They started naming winter storms last Autumn, they say in an effort to raise awareness of risks. (I linked to an article about it in the first paragraph). Nice weather systems don't get names since no one needs to be warned about them, except maybe vampires!) :-) But I'd like to think they never name the nice days because there are just too many of them! And on that note, I wish you a very nice day! :-)

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  9. Great post! It's tragic to lose the daffodils, after waiting so long to see them, but ... wow, what fantastic clouds Zeus sent you.

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    1. Thank you! You're right, the clouds were definitely a gift for a SkyWatch blogger! :-) And, as I mentioned in my reply to Slim above, the daffodils have begun to recover now that the weather has been so warm and sunny here! I'd have given them up for dead, so it just goes to show... a sweet little flower can be tougher than an ill-tempered Greek god hurling snowballs and lightning bolts! :-)

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  10. Whoa, those are indeed some crazy clouds and temps!! 2 below?! Ouch. That's just not right at all for this time and year. Those poor daffodils didn't stand a chance.

    The third picture of clouds kind of looks like an angry face about to blow their breath out to me. Very fitting!

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    1. We all agree, those temps are just too cruel! But after two days of warm, sunny temps, the daffodils are springing back to life! Incredible!

      That photo does look at lot like those cartoon clouds with their cheeks puffed out to illustrate wind!! :-)

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  11. Nooo! I feel for you, and your poor daffodils:( Hope you could some in a vase? Those storm clouds are serious!!

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    1. I probably would have, had the daffodils been mine! But they're growing on a neighbor's corner lot. Those clouds definitely meant business, but the daffodils are proving tougher than I gave them credit for, as they're rebounding in the warm and sunny weather we've been enjoying for the past few days! They look a little ragged and droopy still, but who wouldn't? Given what they went through, and how flattened, grayish and dead they looked on Tuesday, the turnaround is amazing. Maybe today's pretty weather will be all they need to fully recover!

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  12. TW!
    What skies you had, and that much snow and record low temps!! Gad! I even thought I saw Zeus himself in the last sky photo looking down with his hands crossed as if to propel his wrath upon thee and the poor daffodils. At least it's warmed up nicely for you ;-). Now....let Spring commenceth!

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    1. He was in a temper, wasn't he??

      The past two days have been so springlike, I've been refilling my depleted stores of Vit D, walking the dogs without need for a jacket, got out the capri pants and Sanuks for the first time, and went for my first bike ride Thursday. Today is supposed to be the nicest of all, so we plan to go on our first bike ride together, along with taking the girls on a long walk and taking our new reel mower on its maiden voyage! The bluegrass in the front yard is bright green and lush and in need of a mow. (The fescue in back takes a bit longer to green up and grow). Should be a fun day! :-)

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    2. Yay! Nice weather always perks up your soul ;-).

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  13. Wow....dramatic storm clouds.....!!!
    JM Illinois

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    1. Drama is what those ancient Greek gods and goddesses do best. :-)

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  14. Yikes, I've never seen such intense clouds! Quite amazing!!

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    1. Well, bring your camera gear north to these parts, because we get some doozies in the spring and early summer especially! But these were definitely among the blue-ribbon winners that I've seen in our 20 years here.

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  15. The Gods were petulant so and so's weren't they. Incredible cloud display - but I mourn for the daffodils cut down in their prime.

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    1. Yep, they were! But as I've had the pleasure to say in several of my comment replies, the daffodils are made of tougher stuff! A little warmth and sunshine and they are on the mend! :-)

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  16. Those are some impressive storm clouds. The storms don't seem to get names before they hit us here in Colorado, but we've seen plenty of snow and cold this spring.

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    1. Ya think? I thought they just didn't make the national news till they hit Colorado! :-) Most of the winter storms that have hit us have been named while they were in Montana, so at least we knew WHO was coming if not exactly WHAT was coming! You guys have definitely gotten the worst of it down there.

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  17. Oh, those Greek Gods are always causing trouble. Didn't he give birth out of his forehead? Or was that Neptune? Anyway, the daffodils won't be thwarted...they be back next year.

    Those sky pics are spectacular!

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    1. They are definitely too full of mischief for our own good! :-) Yep, that was Zeus, giving birth to Athena from his forehead. Plus she was full-grown AND fully armored! (And I thought my migraines could be wicked!)

      The daffodils are already staging their comeback! I hope to get a photo of their resurrection this morning!

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  18. Omgosh, those clouds!!! Wonderful shots, though!

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  19. Those clouds look ominous. I hope you get warmer weather soon! And to answer your question, yes, I did see the wild parrots at Telegraph Hill for the first time.

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    1. Your wish came true, we enjoyed a sunny Saturday in the mid 70's! It was great.

      And that's really fun that you saw your first Telegraph Hill wild parrots! I hope you got photos for a future post!

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  20. Wow, those were amazing clouds. I particularly liked the last cloud photo before the snow photo for it's unusual shapes and colors . It was so ominous looking in the foreground yet the background looked like blue sky implying lots of movement which made the photo really dynamic.

    I like how you started the post with that great painting of Zeus with his arms crossed. Looks like he'd be trouble in that picture!! I also think the cloud one with the stick was a perfect addition for the skywatch post.

    I'm glad to know through the e:mail that the daffodils survived. They are pretty hearty.

    I was floored that you had a record breaking cold of that magnitude. That wasn't just a little record breaking - that was total breaking and then some. Sounds like just the thing Zeus would do!!

    Glad things are back to normal at least for now!!

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    1. The type of cloud in that photo is called a mammatus cloud, and you can see some really amazing photos of some in the first portion of this web page!

      I was pretty tickled to find all three pictures of Zeus, but especially that one of him with his arms crossed and the Zeus made of clouds! I agree that one was especially appropriate for this post.

      I took photos of them this morning, and if all goes well I'll be posting a couple this morning, along with some other goodies from the weekend!

      That was a doozy of a temperature, wasn't it? I knew it had gotten as low as zero that night, because that's what it was when I got up the next morning. But I had no idea how badly it had annihilated the old record! That was just crazy - just like Zeus indeed!! :-)

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  21. What a wonderful post! It reminded me of when I used to write proper posts but I think the last one also involved Gods - I made fun of the Gods of all things technical and as a result lost my computer, washing machine, oven, taps, and anything that THEY could affect. I stopped writing about Gods after that!!!
    We had late snow but not the low temperatures so despite 8 inches of it lasting a week our Daffodils recovered. I was amazed. I'm sorry your neighbour's were not so fortunate.

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    1. Thank you, John! Now tell me, what constitutes "a proper post?" Because I enjoy your posts and find them plenty proper. :-) I don't blame you for not wanting to poke fun at spiteful deities and risk their wrath again! Did their sabotage of your various appliances and gadgets stop when you quit blogging about them?

      A late snow of that magnitude in your part of the world is quiet unusual, isn't it? And fear not - our neighbor's daffs were a lot tougher than I gave them credit for! Stay tuned for a happy photo update on them sometime tomorrow (the techno-gods willing!) :-)

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  22. What a clever weave of subjects and events! Poor short-lived daffies. :(

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    1. Thanks, Bea! This naming of winter storms the Weather Channel started doing can be helpful to a blogger, since I doubt I'd have thought to put Greek mythology and an April snowstorm together otherwise!

      If you read the post that follows this one, you'll see happier news about those daffs! :-)

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  23. Wow! The storm cloud looks very scary.

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"