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If you live anywhere on the east coast of the United States, you’ve probably noticed a wee bit of weather outside today… 

We’re experiencing a “rapidly deepening extratropical cyclonic low-pressure area,” also referred to as “Nor’easter” by folks up here in Maine. 

Ace reporter (and Chewonki Vice President) Greg Shute is on the scene to tell us more:

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Today’s storm is only the latest event in a string of tough winter days. 

Mainers have spent the past week in a deep freeze, watching the sluggish thermometer ooze between 10℉ and -10℉ and celebrating the turn of the year with cold toes, hot woodstoves, and skiing and snowshoeing under a full moon. Chewonki’s waterfront would be a great place to play arctic explorer right now. The tide’s ebb and flow under the ice has pushed chunks of it into weird piles that look like the remains of a fancy dessert.

Animals are using a variety of strategies for dealing with the extreme cold. Assistant Farm Manager Hilary Crowell says the young pigs “snuggle and squeak,” using their natural comradery to stay cozy, although the farmers have to thaw their water spigot each day with an electric hair dryer. The barn doors stay closed, although workhorse Sal spends part of every day outside. “She’s pretty hearty and likes to move around,” says Crowell, but she gets an extra snack to help her keep warm.

How about Chewonki Neck’s wild animals? Tracks in the snow show that some small critters shelter under cabins. Elderly or otherwise vulnerable Traveling Natural History Program birds move into a garage near the aviary. For example, Byron, the barred owl, is 25+ years old and missing a wing, which leaves one side of her body unnaturally exposed. When the temperature dips to zero, staff bring her inside. “She gets a little restless,” says educator Matt Weeks, noting that some humans have the same reaction to a cold spell and the best antidote is to get moving outside.

The stunning cold has brought uncommon beauty as well as challenges. Sunny  days and starry nights have had crystalline clarity. The chill, however, is another reminder of how fragile we human beings, lacking fur and feathers, are when facing nature’s force.

Yesterday brought an intermission: the temperature climbed to 25℉ ahead of today’s blizzard. Sub-zero temperatures return tomorrow. Happy New Year!

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