Not yet hammock season

All the times J and I have passed this hammock on our way to or from our local T stop, I’ve never seen anyone lying in it. Still, there’s something soothing about the sight of an empty (and thus inviting) hammock hanging between two trees, even if it’s the middle of February and the snow is puddled with melt water.


Today and yesterday have been mercifully mild: February thaw. The last looming glaciers of icy snow thundered from our roof on Friday, and there are bare patches of muddy ground beneath the towering pines that fringe our neighbor’s yard. Yesterday we had lunch in Jamaica Plain, where the sidewalks were thronged with window-shoppers, baby-strollers, dog-walkers, and more than a few people sitting outside eating ice cream: a defiant thumbing-of-one’s nose to Old Man Winter.

Dirty snow / buried bench

Old Man Winter isn’t done with us yet: there’s a chance of snow showers tonight, the possibility of more snow on Wednesday, and rumors of snow next weekend. Everyone knows March is a fickle month–in like a lion, out like a lamb–but that doesn’t matter right now, when the temperature is well above freezing and our ears thrill to the sound of bird calls and dripping melt water.

Old news

April may be the cruelest month, but March is probably the dirtiest. Now that all but the most tenacious snow-drifts have melted, the muddy earth has emerged under a shroud of dead leaves and last year’s trash: the dessicated detritus of a spent season.

Even older news

Some of these emergent objects are grotesque, like the pair of road-flattened beavers I stumbled upon one spring, each of their freeze-dried bodies reduced to a leathery pancake of fur, teeth, and bone. Other emergent objects are more mundane, the annual thaw revealing last year’s lost balls and leaf litter. Some things that emerge when the snow melts are nearly unidentifiable, like this soggy residue where a snowstorm pulped a neighbor’s forgotten newspaper, last month’s news reduced to Nature’s own papier-mache. Many of us emerge from the travails of winter looking the worse for wear, desperate for the extreme makeover effected by sunny skies and warm temperatures.


As much as Reggie loves to sniff autumn leaves, he loves their aroma even more in spring, after a blanket of snow has allowed their individual odors to ripen, ferment, and blend into an intoxicating olfactory elixir. It’s as if snow is the best kind of time capsule, sealing away the stuff of fall until it emerges in the spring intensified, weathered down to its essential scent. In these early, muddy days of spring, my late-summer allergies often revive as the dust, mold, and pollen from months ago re-emerge as if from cellophane, wrapped and frozen to preserve freshness. What need do we have for time machines when Nature herself is in the business of cryogenics, resurrecting in the spring the very days she froze in fall.


On Monday we had unseasonably mild temperatures and torrential rains which melted much of the remaining snow cover, leaving puddles of snow-melt that froze overnight into intricate crystalline shapes: the sparkle of geometric shards underfoot.

Christmas eave

Pardon the wretched pun, but I couldn’t refuse. What else would I titled a Christmas eve post featuring a looming glacier of snow ready to slide off the eaves in today’s December thaw?

We still have plenty of remaining snow in Waban for a white Christmas…but after two days of mild temperatures and intermittent rain yesterday, Santa will find much less snow covering the ground when he touches down later tonight. What looked like this on December 19th…

We support...snow?

…looked like this today.

Signs revealed

Similarly, the well-dressed snow-folk who looked like this on December 19th…

Well-dressed snowfolk

…had fattened themselves with a second snowfall the next day…

Frosty & friend

…and now have shriveled to snowy stumps.

Sorry snowfolk

If warm-ish temperatures continue, I’ll be forced to photograph thawing puddles instead of snowscapes.

Thawing puddle

Luckily, I snapped a slew of photos the morning after our last snowfall, when twigs were etched in white and Waban looked like the inside of a shaken snow-globe. If you’re wishing for a white Christmas this year, a winter Waban-land is only a click away. Enjoy, and merry Christmas!