Tag Archive 'New England'

Dec 29 2015

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Winter Finally Arrives

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snow barrelsA full-blown winter storm was underway when I got out of bed this morning. Not the kind that makes headlines or excites weather forecasters, but a steady, all-day affair that is blanketing the region with white stuff. If there was any doubt before about what time of year it is, there isn’t now.

I go outside and notice right away that my half-barrels and sap buckets are crowned with snow. I use them to grow herbs during the warm season. In fact, the stubborn remnant of an oregano plant peeks through the cover. I am not fooled by it. I grab my shovel and start to work on the driveway, digging out the cars.

Here in northern New England, the first big dump comes as something of a relief. You know it’s coming – just a matter of when. And you know that it is only the first of many to come, gradually accumulating through the half-hearted thaws until we’re thigh-deep in it. Only then will the great springtime melt begin. But that’s months away. Best not to think about spring.

I heard the other day that Vermont has lost population during the past year. That comes as no surprise to those of us who live here. Good paying jobs are few, living expenses are high, and the winters are hard to get through. As for the latter, it’s best if you have some hobby or craft to keep you busy until April. For some it’s skiing, ice fishing, or snowmobiling. Others, like me, have indoor preoccupations. I get a lot of writing done this time of year.

Still I feel a tinge of dread as I push snow around my driveway for the first time this season. There’s a lot of backbreaking work ahead, not to mention deep cold. And all things green, except conifers, lie dormant beneath the snow.

 

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Mar 02 2015

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Approaching Spring

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Snowmelt puddleAs I sit on the side porch, warmed by sunlight beaming though closed windows, it doesn’t seem to me like spring is far away at all. Snow is piled several feet deep in my front yard and around the driveway, but I can see pavement and the icicles hanging down from the roof are dripping constantly. With the thermometer reaching into the 20s, we’re experiencing a heat wave compared to the steady parade of subzero temps last month. That’s encouraging.

It’s March now. The Vernal Equinox is only a few weeks away. And while those of us who have lived here in the North Country a decade or more know better than to start looking for robins, the maple sap should start running soon. Surely that counts for something.

In my driveway there’s a puddle of snowmelt, and in that puddle I see the reflection of a relentless sun. I find stark beauty in that reflection as well as in the craggy, half-melted edges of ice nearby. For those paying attention, and I’m sure the birds at my feeder are doing just that, the early signs of seasonal change are clear. Yes, some nasty winter storms come our way in March, but a big thaw will soon take place regardless.

That’s what is nice about the seasons here in northern New England. Just when you think the heat/cold/rain is never-ending, things change. Nothing lasts so long that it devastates us – not if we pay careful attention. Things change. It’s only a matter of time.

 

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Oct 15 2012

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Precious Days

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A few days ago I hiked around Indian Brook Reservoir, immersing myself in autumnal color. Yesterday I did it again on Aldis Hill, enjoying the not-so-subtle hues of the season despite the chilling air and thin drizzle. Rain or shine, the New England forest is magnificent this time of year.

At the hotel where I work evenings, tourists have been inquiring for weeks about that ever-elusive phenomenon called “peak foliage.”  I have done my best to point them in the right direction so they could snap their postcard photos and experience technicolor ecstasy. But mine is an entirely different take on the season, where each step on this steady march towards winter is just as precious as the next.

Strong winds last week shook a lot of the most colorful leaves from their tenuous moorings, thus blanketing the forest floor. That works for me. I don’t care if the color is up there or down here. It’s all beautiful, and the pungent leafy smell is reason enough to ramble through the woods.

From the first color to the first frost and beyond, Nature slowly closes shop. The growing season ends and it is time to bring in the fruits of the land. The long siege is not far away. These are not days one should waste.

There will be some balmy days still, and here in the lake valley where I live some leaves will cling to branches for several more weeks. That said I have no illusions about where all this leads. So each walk I take is a joyful prayer of thanks. Every autumn moment is delicious. I harvest what I can.

 

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