Remember the beautiful white snowmobile trail I showed you last December? This is what it looked like yesterday afternoon, after a stint of unseasonably warm weather: mid-January mud.

In case you think that snow-folk don’t die like other sentient beings, think again: they give up the ghost like any other creature. Yesterday afternoon, the woods along Krif Road here in Keene were haunted by what I call snow-ghosts: swirling bands of fog hovering over patches of remaining snow. Although the scientists among you will insist these clouds of condensation are the visible sign of snow sublimating into saturated air, I say they’re the stuff of campfire legend, the inspiration for whispered tales of haunted forests.

Like actual ghosts, snow-ghosts are best viewed peripherally and from a distance. As you approach one of these ground-hugging clouds, it seems to dissolve around you, the only evidence of its presence being a noticeable chill. The air inside a snow-ghost feels about 10 degrees cooler than the air outside. Walking into this invisible fog feels like stepping into a moist refrigerator, some cruel inventor’s version of an anti-sauna: humid, but cold.

When you consider the amount of snow that’s melted this past week, along with drenching rains from Friday night into Saturday morning, it’s no surprise there are clouds of condensation hovering about just as surely as the Ashuelot has sloshed onto its floodplain. This is how these woods look in April, when meltwater swells the river and floods nearby fields. For such a thaw to occur in January seems odd, given that woods that looked like this only a few weeks ago now offer only a ghost of their former self:

    Although it was not raining as Reggie and I walked the mud-mobile trail off Krif Road yesterday afternoon, when we returned to the car, we both were damp with condensation, the gradual effect of walking through mist. Lest you mourn yesterday’s snow-ghosts, though, trust they’ll be reincarnated: the sleeting snow that began last night is now a blustering blizzard of crystal white flakes.