Thaw

February has been true to form this year. The snow that fell at the beginning of the month has been largely with us since, with periodic refresher doses every week or so. Sleet and freezing rain have made regular appearances, also, turning most surfaces into treacherous sheets of ice. Even grassy areas have been dangerous to negotiate. The white coating on our lawn was impermeable to a human boot-clad foot and as slick as a hockey rink. It reminds me of royal icing that dries to a rock-hard finish, the kind I used when making gingerbread houses years ago. Largely thanks to that icing, those houses are still with us, decades later, boxed up in the basement. This February snow threatened to be nearly as long-lived.

Rising temperatures were therefore very welcome when they arrived at the beginning of the week. Road surfaces gradually became visible again, but the shoulders only increased in perilous iciness. Morning walks with Kiko were difficult going. He seems to understand when I say “Slow, slow” in an urgent tone. So I repeated the mantra nearly non-stop as we made our way out and back (very slowly, of course. )

The snow retreated throughout most of our yard, leaving big frosted circles around the wide bases of the old trees. Fallen maple buds are all the more distinct on the white ground, assuring us that spring is, indeed, in the works.

Several days this week, we’ve had winter in the mornings and spring in the afternoons, a March specialty that arrived a bit early. On Monday, Kiko and I were out early enough to see the grass frosted to a pale gray-green.

My fastidious dog wasn’t sure what to make of the frost and snow combo.

We were treated to a couple of days filled with glorious sunshine that melted away all but the most stubborn traces of snow. The outside world appeared revived, refreshed and joyful, teeming with the essence of early spring. Robins dotted the yard and circled in the trees above. Beneath our bird feeder, gray juncos, cardinals and white-throated sparrows scratched in the pine straw. They mixed peacefully with doves, squirrels, (including Bobtail) and the chipmunk.

The bright early mornings were especially alive with the sounds of the birds. High in the trees, all around, the woodpeckers, drilling for breakfast, seemed to be engaged in songs of call-and-response.

The sun often got so warm on Kiko’s bed by the window that he became periodically overheated. Every hour or so he pulled himself laboriously to his feet, jumped to the floor and collapsed in the shade at the base of my chair, evidently too sun-saturated to move further.

The thaw continues this weekend, although less scenically, with gray skies and rain. I’m relieved to see that no snow is predicted for the first week of March.

God speed, Spring. We need you more than ever!

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