The storm was still blowing hard at noon when I finally wandered outside. The snow came past my knees and I broke trail down the unplowed driveway. I stood at the road’s edge taking in the white stillness. A world transformed. The wind made great sculpted waves of snow and whipped peaks and hills several feet high against the house and barn. Huge heavy wet flakes fell, stinging my skin and sticking to my hair and shoulders. The sky gave no hint of clearing. The only sound was that of the wind rustling the brittle branches of the naked trees. And yet spring was nearby, secreted deep inside the maple trees, sap already making its way slowly from the roots up to the crown. I could see the evidence in the blue sap buckets on the neighbor’s property hanging heavily from the naked maples.
This snow would concede its seasonal fight in a matter of days. Forget the gentleness of late spring, lilac scented and in love with itself. I am enthralled with the wild, tumultuous brevity of this season in New Hampshire. The hide-and-seek double season of nor’easters and sunshine, the fickle and unreliable oscillation of snow and rain and ice. The cold earth softening under the piles of rotting leaves gradually emerging from the last patches of snow, filling the morning air with a scent of mold and mud, the peepers emerging from their frozen winter sleep, the salamanders shimmying back to their vernal nurseries, the trees rousing themselves in the new light. While other, perhaps saner individuals, complain and swear that this is the best time to leave the state, grumble at the viscous mess of dirt roads and rutted gravel driveways, I revel in the effort and grit, the elusive beauty of this fifth muddy season, with its perennial promise of waking up, its subtle wisp of resurgence and hope.