On this snowy and sloppy day-after-spring, it’s easy to think the past few days were an anomaly: an isolated fluke through which Newton, Massachusetts took a quick weekend trip from the wintry Northeast to somewhere sunny and warm.
On Saturday morning’s dog-walk, a neighbor joyfully proclaimed “It’s spring” as she jogged past in a light jacket. “It won’t last,” I laughed in response, in part to warn myself against getting my hopes too high. March is the season of spotty-springs: intermittent bursts of sun, warm, and mud that give year-round residents the hope to weather another month or more of snow showers, storms, and slush. Saturday was spring, and so was Sunday, but Monday lands us right back in winter, with an inch or so of new snow predicted in Boston and four to seven inches forecast for Keene. “Don’t put away your boots and sweaters,” Mother Nature seems to whisper. “This weekend was just a tease, so I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted.”
And we did indeed try to enjoy it while it lasted. On Saturday, J and I left our coats at home while we ventured into Boston for an afternoon Bruins game, and it felt colder in the ice-cool arena than it did outside. On Sunday, we wore light jackets while taking a sun-drenched afternoon walk to Cold Spring Park and back, and we weren’t the only ones out for a Sunday stroll: along the way we passed dog-walkers, joggers, playground basketball players, and countless pedestrians who didn’t seem to mind getting their feet muddy.
“Did you get any good pictures,” one passerby asked upon seeing J’s and my cameras. “Not really,” J admitted; “Just pictures of mud,” I added. Under the spell of spotty-spring, even pictures of mud look wonderful: a mundane sight we’ve longed for over the seemingly interminable winter months. Mud season isn’t the loveliest time in New England, but we year-rounders relish it regardless.
Spotty-spring is the season when abandoned objects emerge from months of isolation. Along our Sunday stroll, J and I saw a half-dozen weathered tennis balls that had overwintered in snow-drifts after having been dropped by neighborhood dogs; along muddy, melting curbs, we spotted sodden gloves, months-old newspapers, and other snow-soaked detritus. Knee-deep snowdrifts serve as a kind of time capsule, hoarding last year’s litter under a blanket of cold. These intermittent days of spotty-spring are when cast-off things and weather-worn humans alike come out of isolation, daring to bare themselves under the white-hot glare of an afternoon sun.