In recent years, I have become obsessed with seeking out the first signs of spring. It’s not that I dislike winter; in fact I like the beauty of snow covering the landscape. But the clues that a new season is upon us are much more apparent with the approach of spring. Autumn exhibits more concrete transitions as well, but winter and summer seem to appear without any warning. And so, I begin my search for spring while winter still dominates the land.
Last year, I found the first hint of green poking through the dirt in early February but that was 350 miles further south than my current location. This year, the snow hid the earth well beyond that February date. I waited anxiously for this insulating blanket to recede enough for me to begin my hunt, and then, while the land 3 miles out of town was still several feet deep in snow, small patches of dirt became visible in town. And I was off!
Each time I went into town, I closely examined the exposed earth for some sign of life. Finally, on March 23rd I found the first flash of green in front of the local library. As I returned to my car, with camera in hand, a gentleman sitting on a stone wall asked what I had found. After the long winter, he was pleased to hear of my discovery and informed me that the library always had the first crocuses of the season.
I went to town several times a week, eager to watch the progress of these first flowers of spring. I was sure that they would be in bloom by Easter. Sure enough, by April 4th a display of yellow, white and purple crocuses carpeted the area.
Unfortunately, winter decided to declare that it was not done yet and dumped 6 more inches of snow on April 8th. Since the snow occurred so late in the season, it was not long before the yards near town were completely free of snow. I watched the snow recede from my neighbors’ yards wondering if the ground around my property would ever be visible. Around April 14th, the glacier finally started to recede but it still had a long way to go. After another week and a half all put a small patch of snow had disappeared.
During my short time here, I have discovered that in the New England area residents wait for the local lake warden to declare “ice-out”. Ice-out is when the warden can navigate his or her boat from a designated point A to point B without having to maneuver around ice. The warden then declares the lake free of ice. Locals enter contests in order to guess the date and time this will occur. After this last year, someone jokingly suggested a date of August 15th and there were times that it did seem that the lake would never flow again. Fortunately this entry proved wrong when the local paper stated that ice-out had been declared on April 21st. Winter was finally over.