[ ECOLOGICAL ETYMOLOGIST ]
Dear E.E. Is it true that Eskimos
have 50 words for snow?
It seems a bit unbelievable.
That does seem unbelievable. After all, we
have at least 100. What’s holding them back?
We’ll start easy, with distinct types of frozen
water that falls from the sky: snow, flakes, sleet,
hail, slush, corn snow, sugar snow, confectionary snow, powder, graupel, hoarfrost, columns,
dendrites, rimed snow, needles, packing snow,
spring snow, granular snow, snow pellets, needles, columns, bullet rosettes, capped columns,
stellar dendrites, stellar dendrites with light
riming, triple-capped columns, plates, plates
with light rimings, sectored plates, sectored
plates with light riming, ice pellets, arrowhead
twins, and 12-branched stars.
Then, of course, there are monikers for
naturally occurring snow phenomena: snowstorm, blizzard, thundersnow, flurry, avalanche,
lake-effect snow, cornice, crust, finger drift,
windslab, watermelon snow, snowdrift, snowpack, squall, firn, neve, penitente, suncup, snow
bridge, snow roller, yukimarimo, and zastrugi.
Not to mention skiing terms: champagne
powder, chopped powder, packed powder, artificial snow, ball bearings, blowing snow, blus,
brown snow, bullet-proof, California concrete,
chokeable, chop, chopped powder, Colorado
super chunk, cauliflower, cold smoke, corduroy,
crud, dust on crust, flake, freshie, hardpack,
mashed potatoes, pillow drift, poo ice, pow
pow, packed powder, salt on formica, Sierra
cement, smud, snirt, soufflé dure, styrofoam,
surface hoar, and wet powder.
And I won’t even pretend this list is exhaustive. What about radiating dendrites? Or talc?
Or screaming lobsters? Or wind waves? And
you know that as you’re reading this, legions
of hipster snowboarders are coming up with
more. Speaking of which,
you all can keep going with
the list if you want to. I’m
off to hit the slopes.
to skiing. He hired renowned trail designer John
Morton of Vermont to map out a series of ski
trails on the farm.
The trails were built and ready for skiers the
winter of 2014-2015: 25 kilometers winding
around the fields and into the woods, where they
twist through the trees in challenging climbs
and rewarding descents. There was snow that
year – lots of it – and local skiers came happily
to this new mecca of groomed cross-country
tracks with stellar views of the Franconia and
Kinsman mountain ranges and the welcoming
warmth of the farm stand-turned-warming hut.
That first year was great for skiers, but challenging for Mangold, who ran into a hiccup with
the restrictions of a conservation easement
on the property, held since the 1980s by the
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire
Forests. Mangold was allowed to offer skiing on
the property, but not profit from it. So, he provided free skiing that first season. By last winter,
that easement wrinkle had been ironed out, but
there was enough snow to ski only a handful of
days. Mangold is banking on the third season
being the charm, the one when all the pieces –
snowfall, ticket sales, and local enthusiasm
– fall into place.
When Mangold looked into building Nordic trails
at the farm, he also hired forester Ben Hudson of
Lyme, New Hampshire, to create a management
plan for the 460 acres of forested land on the
property. The 10-year plan for the forest – a
mix of northern hardwoods with scattered white
pine, hemlock, and spruce-fir patches – includes
increasing the percentage of northern hardwood
species for future firewood production (both for
outside sales and to heat the farm greenhouses)
and enhancing wildlife habitat through small
patch cuts to create early successional growth.
“Two years ago while building the trails I did
some minor logging,” said Mangold. Last year,
harvesting activity took place on some 150
acres, but cutting was light. “The management
plan calls for selective harvesting of the woods
as opposed to clear cutting,” he explains. “Using
this approach, we think we can actively harvest
an area every 5 to 10 years instead of once in
25 or 30 years.”
This is, perhaps, not the type of harvest
Mangold envisioned when he bought the farm,
but it helps further diversify the operation and
it’s now an important component of the year-
round business plan.
“I think of the farm as sort of a three-legged
stool,” he said. “We’ve got the vegetable farm.
That’s an essential piece, but not necessarily the
most profitable. The cord wood is profitable. And
because we deliver it in the fall and cut it in late
winter, it fits well with the timing of planting and
harvesting. The Nordic ski aspect, I think, is going
to be a nice, sustainable, profitable part as well.”
After three growing seasons, Mangold is
hoping to find someone to lease the vegetable
operation and farmstand for the coming year,
while he continues to focus on Nordic skiing,
growing strawberries, and harvesting and selling
hay and firewood.
Mangold also owns a successful software
company in nearby Littleton. But he’s no stranger
to life on a farm. His voice still carries a twang, a
lingering reminder of his upbringing on a 1,600-
acre farm in Kentucky where corn and soybeans
grew. On that farm, everything was mechanized,
there was little crop diversity, and no personal
connection to the customers. That’s much dif-
ferent than the organic, sustainable enterprise
he has created at Ski Hearth Farm, tending both
the land and the community he and his family
have called home for 15 years. (His wife, Tina
Mangold, owns Balance Bethlehem, a center for
yoga, nutrition, and healing arts in a neighboring
town.) Not one to do anything halfway, Mangold
jumped into farming whole-heartedly, build-
ing not only ski trails, but new greenhouses,
purchasing new farming equipment, renovating
both the farmhouse and the farm stand.
Locals and summer regulars have been thrilled
to see the farm stand open again, to see tractors
in the fields, to watch Ski Hearth Farm return to
bustling activity. Nordic skiers are excited to have
a bonafide ski center close to home. The success
of all of it hinges on diversity and community.
“It’s extremely hard. It does require a lot of
good will, local support. Without local support,
this is not a sustainable venture,” Mangold said.
He emphasizes that sustainability over the long
haul is the goal, whether it’s the management
plan for the woodlot or the overall business plan:
“I look at the farm as a long-term investment.”
Meghan McCarthy McPhaul
This series is sponsored by the Stifler Family Foundation, in support of forestry practices that
promote healthy and sustainable forests and wildlife habitat.