Out of the snowpack

Inch by inch, we’re reclaiming our yard from winter’s occupation. Yesterday a desk-sized slab of ice slid off our roof, taking part of the gutter with it; the day before that, an avalanche of roof-snow tore a cable from its mooring on the side of our house. Considering the damage many of our neighbors and colleagues have suffered–collapsed drywall ceilings, peeling paint, and warped kitchen cabinets, all from roof leaks caused by ice dams–J and I have gotten off easy, with only a bit of indoor dripping and seeping.

Overhang

Yesterday J and I walked to lunch, and shoveled sidewalks were bare…but those sidewalks that hadn’t been shoveled were treacherous, with alternating patches of ankle-twisting snowdrifts and slippery-as-sin ice patches slicked with snow melt. The most reliable place for pedestrians to walk is still (unfortunately) the street, turning a simple lunchtime walk into a game of chicken with passing motorists.

In the afternoon, I drove to Lexington to stock up on office supplies, and the town center was well-shoveled, with wide, clear sidewalks. It was sunny and mild, with temperatures in the mid-50s, and anyone who didn’t need to be inside was outside, walking. After so many weeks of snowstorms and cabin fever, it felt like an unheard luxury simply to walk outside, reclaiming the cleared sidewalks as our own.

The top photo shows our formerly-buried patio table and chairs emerging from the melting snow, and the second is the last photo I took of the overhanging roof-glacier that hung over our back door before it fell.

A spot of spring

It’s a red-letter day when you see green grass in February. Although most Newton yards are still covered in at least a foot of snow, on this morning’s 40-degree dogwalk I spotted one south-facing slope that sported a patch of bare earth like a tonsure.

The forecast calls for a return to freezing temperatures tonight and tomorrow, but even a spot of almost-spring renews flagging hope in the sandal-starved. Every year, we weather a brief spell of above-freezing bliss that stays just long enough to whet our seasonal ambitions and encourage colds in those who dress too hopefully. Once we’ve bared our boot-entombed ankles and stretched out our necks in long-sleeved T-shirts, the snow and cold will return to remind us that it’s not spring yet. Eventually, yes. Now, no.

Almost-spring is a perfect lesson in present mindedness. Tonight and tomorrow, today’s snow-melt will freeze, but right now, the air smells musty with mud and wet dog. Even our backyard Gorby is delighted to be bareheaded within his blanket of snow.

Bare-headed

Fluid or frozen?

It seems I’ve been thinking about upside-down tree reflections ever since Leslee blogged one recently. Or maybe I still have this picture of Waban’s festive holiday tree reflected in snow-melt still in mind. Or maybe I can blame the “Search” box at the bottom of my blog side-bar, for when I typed in “surreal,” this post was at the top of the search results.

Giving up the snow-ghost

Whatever the reason, the above picture of pine trees reflected in the half-frozen surface of Goose Pond in December, 2006 is what I’m posting for today’s Photo Friday theme, Surreal. It’s always odd to see an inverse version of ordinary objects, a simple pond or puddle de-familiarizing the same old sights. In December of 2006, Goose Pond was on the edge of a several-month deep freeze; now in March of 2008, New England is coming out of all that. Yesterday in Keene, a noontime walk revealed the family of snow-folk I’d blogged last week is now giving up the snow-ghost. Eaves were dripping snow-melt, and sidewalks that had never been shoveled were topped with a slushy soup of thawing ice and hard-packed snow.

Keene got snow

The fact that last week’s snow is quickly melting is in no way surreal: snow falls and subsequently melts every year in New England. What’s surreal is the climatic (and often climactic) contrast I’ve experienced in my weekly “commute” between Keene and Newton. Yesterday in Keene the weather was mild and sunny, joggers ran in shorts, sidewalks were often impassable with slippery slush and shoe-topping puddles of snow-melt, and several feet of snow remained in yards and other shaded, un-shoveled spots. Today in Newton, there’s virtually no snow anywhere: the last of it melted yesterday, revealing grass, last year’s remaining leaves, and mud, mud, mud. Simply by driving the 80-some miles from southwest New Hampshire to the suburbs of Boston, it seems I’ve entered an entirely different climate, one where I can wear shoes rather than boots and can stroll down a sidewalk without watching my slippery step.

This time of year in Keene, you see, you don’t have to head to Goose Pond to take in the surreal sight of something reflected upside down in water. All you have to do is look at the sidewalk in front of you when you try to ford your way across Main Street.

Flooded sidewalk