My google search hasn’t told me if the cold snap in Central Europe is over yet—though news out of Hungary on the 9th is they’re pulping (and I quote) “wads of old notes into briquettes to help heat humanitarian organisations.”

Now, this isn’t exactly fresh news—they’ve been doing the briquettes thing for charities for four years now (and incinerating them for years before that). Still, the mental image is striking. Forty to 50 tons of currency a year—all repurposed (as the jargon goes) for fuel. It’s money worth 200 billion Hungarian forints, whatever that is—the Telegraph (UK) says five million forints equals 17,000 euros … and … well, I’ll just stop here. Because as usual I’m off on a tangent; this time even before I begin.

For all I really meant to do was comment on the weather in my neck of the woods. Here in the Northeast we’re having what could be the mildest winter in who-knows-how-long. I have (I think) a decent memory for these kinds of subjective impressions. And boy, if this isn’t the mildest in 60 plus-or-minus years I’ll—well, I can’t promise what I will or won’t do. Because that’s the sort of thing I’m liable to forget.

Some people tell me the forecast for March is snow, snow, snow. Sure, I’ll believe it when (and if) I see it. And one thing I’ve learned—you can’t predict the weather. Not here, due east of 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, due south of Quebec, and only a few hours west (assuming wind speeds that could tear shingles off my roof) of a vast, swollen ocean.

So here it is: the Blizzard of 2012, seen from the vantage point of my firewood piles. Beneath, evidence that my chickens walked, oh, maybe nine inches from the ramp leading down from their coop. Wusses.

Last year my girls were a tough bunch of biddies, trekking through neck-deep (for them) snow to the shelter of a blue spruce up past the garden. Not this year. And last year—we had snow! I would even trample paths for them sometimes; you know, out of pity. What changed? No clue.

It's not an entirely snowless winter here in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York—people are out right now, cross-country skiing for the third time this year.