Winter is my second favorite season. You can’t beat autumn in New Hampshire, so that’s a no-brainer, and while most people would choose summer next I prefer winter. At this point in the season, though, I’m a little afraid to admit that.
I am probably the only person left in New England who likes winter. Yeah, we’re all winter-weary here, and I’m looking forward to spring as much as anyone else, but you can’t argue with the beauty of the season. I have included some photos here to prove my point, just in case someone pushes back on this.
Winter here is the stuff of postcards and calendars: fluffy-white drifts of snow covering hills and fields. Curls of woodsmoke coming from chimneys. Centuries-old white architecture made even more beautiful with a frosting of ice. Little white lights in every window, illuminating the dark frigid nights.Then there are the things the postcards don’t tell you … the ice dams that back up on rooftops and allow water to creep into your house. Snowdrifts so high you can’t see around them to turn onto the street. High heating bills. Empty cars running in parking lots, staying warm while their owners shop. Bad hair days from all that dry static electricity in the air.It’s all just part of living here, though. We know it, expect it, and put up with it, believing that spring can’t possibly be that far away. And when it does arrive it is a feeling like nothing else – new beginnings, new life, something that is looked forward to every year.
So until that day, I am loving this frigid white landscape and thankful that my roof hasn’t collapsed under the weight of two feet of snow. The ice dams haven’t caused any major damage. Yet. The car still reliably starts when it is seventeen below zero. There are no mosquitoes.
I’m happy when my second favorite season begins. And just as happy when it ends.
The calendar may say it’s Black Friday, but here in New Hampshire it’s White Friday. Wednesday night a storm moved up the east coast and dumped a foot of heavy wet snow across the state; as a result, a whole lot of people did not get their Thanksgiving turkey yesterday. 200,000 people were without power, down to about 80,000 today. This type of snow (known in Washington State as “Cascade cement”) can cause a lot of damage, leaving in its wake downed tree branches and power lines; yesterday morning my poor lilac tree looked like an inverted U. And it isn’t even winter yet.
So this Thanksgiving I thought about some of the little things we take for granted – like electricity, hot showers and shopping on Amazon. Of course I’m thankful for the more obvious things too; but the morning news, that first cup of coffee, and being able to email my mom rank right up there. (Yeah, I would have made a lousy pioneer.)
Black Friday has come and gone but it looks like maybe the snow is here to stay. It’s strange how something so beautiful can also be so treacherous. Blame it on technology, or the millennium, or anything you want, but this year I am doubly thankful for my family, my friends, and my internet access. For me, at least, they are all interconnected.
As a way of showing February the door – and I have no doubt that most New Englanders are happy to see it go, with four storms in the last four weeks – I thought I’d post a few photos taken this week showing just how beautiful it is here this time of year. I keep inviting my Northwest friends to visit in February, citing the natural beauty of New Hampshire in winter, but so far no one has taken me up on that offer. Maybe this will change their minds.
All of these photos were taken between my home and my office; as much as I’d love to spend time shooting on mornings like these, I do need to work. Therefore I sometimes have to try a little harder to find images I like in my allotted ten mile drive, but that in itself is a challenge.
Even under all this snow, with spring no more than a vague light at the end of the tunnel, the locals have not lost their sense of humor. With our most recent storm delivering heavy, wet snow (what we in Seattle used to call Cascade Cement) a few snowmen popped up in front yards … along with a giant, purple-tongued shark.
Keep smiling, New Hampshire – spring is on its way.
This will likely be known as the winter that wasn’t. No snow. No ice. No storms. Not even any really cold air. And face it, without any of that stuff, is it even winter? The calendar may say so, but the weather is not proving it.
The sled dog races in Laconia were cancelled for lack of snow. The chairman of the 33rd Annual Great Rotary Fishing Derby looked out at the open water on Meredith Bay and said, “It’s a nightmare.” The mild winter has made it unsafe for the hundreds of bobhouses, trucks, snowmobiles, and vendors that usually clutter the bay. The derby normally draws five thousand fishermen and just as many spectators. But in photos taken recently by the New Hampshire Civil Air Patrol, it showed open water, cracked ice, and rivers that cut through the frozen parts of Winnipesaukee: conditions common at the end of March, not the middle of February.
In general at least 6″ of hard ice is needed to support one person on foot, and 8 to 10″ of hard ice is needed for a for snow machine, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
The mild weather has also had an unexpected downside for the resident gardener. That spring panic that normally hits in April? You know, when you can’t seem to finish any one project because they all beckon? The overwhelming desire to plant something? It’s here now, in February.
Yesterday I noticed sap buckets on trees along North Main Street in Wolfeboro – this is the earliest I’ve seen them. With sap running this early, can spring be far behind? March can be fickle. Though I am happy that my heating bill is relatively low and my snow shovel has gone mostly unused, I still feel a little cheated out of a good old-fashioned winter. The few inches of snow we got overnight did little to dampen thoughts of spring.
Now … where did I put those seed packets?