Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hitting the winter jackpot

It’s no secret that winter is a trying time for humans, critters, and the land itself. Here in Vermont, winter dominates our lives—and in many cases, provides our livelihoods.

Certain elements can be relied on, year after year: Cold. Snow. Ice. Darkness. Within those parameters, every winter differs in what, how much, and when.

This year, we’ve had the most wintery season of recent times, starting early and promising to run late (though hopefully shorter than the whopper we had a decade ago, with snow on the ground from October into May!). It has presented the gamut of conditions, in rapid succession, hitting extremes. But that includes one of the rare happier moments, which came and went, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day.

It began with a nor’easter that dumped two-plus feet of powder over two days. Yikes! By nightfall the second day, the storm had moved on and clouds parted to present a full moon casting silver glow and sparkle across a flawless blanket of white. Objects on the ground were either buried or simplified into rounded contours. No tracks, no movement; all life in suspension.

By morning much of the landscape would be chewed up by plows and shovels and footprints, and stained by salt and sand. But this night, for a few hours, we had the most beautiful combination of light, shadow, color, and shape that the season can produce.

Calendar-wise, it’s just past the halfway point of the season. The forecast is for another subzero dip followed by days above freezing, beginning the long, sputtering, terminal thaw. So what I witnessed, I think, was the exact moment of the season’s pendulum swing to its farthest point: a pause before the backswing toward spring.

Perfect moonlight-on-snow is Nature’s apology for the suffering she must impose, a reward for her seasonal punishment. Although we may see the combination again before winter ends, it won’t be quite the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment