As a new voice to the Crown & Down, an introduction is in order. Many readers may remember me from photographs, columns and the occasional story, but my larger role at Northeast Publishing is to edit and curate stories and photos for our websites and weekly newspapers. Working with our team to bring news to our readers makes my day.
Here’s something else that makes my day: mud.
You know it’s been a long winter when the almost otherworldly landscape of dark, grimy snow on the side of the road looks pretty.
For more than four solid months, we’ve seen snow depths rise, by inches and by feet, in what seems like an onslaught from on high. It’s been a winter of huge proportions; we’ve seen the snowiest January and February since record keeping began in 1939, though so far we have failed to break the record for most snow in a winter season. Public works crews everywhere have stretched themselves to their limits, heroically clearing and hauling, then battling the effects of a dangerous windstorm last month that caused several roads to close.
Driveway walls have risen so high they have ensnared houses in snowy fishbowls. The weather has isolated people to the point that it’s been weeks since some have seen their neighbors.
So, when next Wednesday rolls around, we in The County are under no illusions that a new season will magically appear. When Punxsutawney Phil forecast an early spring, we guffawed. We all know “calendar spring” is just a tease.
In my neighborhood, we have come to the conclusion that we might see the snow disappear in July.
Through the winter, the neighborly atmosphere degraded. Interactions went sort of like this.
“It’s a winter wonderland out here.”
Neighbors waved across driveways and talked of holidays.
“More snow’s coming.”
“Oh, well, it’s The County.”
Neighbors stood on tiptoe to wave and talked of the next storm.
“Gotta get the roof cleaned — again.”
“Can’t find my porch.”
Neighbors waved frantically to avoid being hit by snowblowers.
“Snow. &*%#**# SNOW.”
Neighbors waved one finger at the sky.
But, though it won’t happen overnight, that mid-March sun does have some melting power. Roofs rumble with crashing ice. Fallen icicles stand like huge matchsticks against buildings. Meltwater swells into the roadways.
I have discovered the hulking pile of snow chunks in the backyard hides a roof. Maybe aliens haven’t stolen the garage. By the door, there’s an inch or two of post showing — could it be the front porch is still there? And underneath the honeycombed snow that drips in the March sun is something muddy — wonder of wonders, it’s the ground. Only a tiny patch, but I’ll take it.
There are still a whole lot of igloos around the neighborhood, but somehow, each day with a little sun and wind, they seem a bit smaller. I heard a rumor that someone down the street found a tiny crocus poking its way up.
I don’t think anyone around here will mind mud season this year. We’ll be giddy about the glop, sneer at the shrinking snow, and delightedly dodge those potholes.
Bring it on, spring.