Late February is a beautiful time in Vermont. Snow cover is usually the highest of the year, give or take a few weeks one way or the other, and while prone to brief thaws it usually isn’t too muddy or wet yet. Despite this, the sun is creeping higher in the sky each day. The slightly longer days and small edge taken off of the coldest of the cold make for little after-work skis or explores, and reduce the burden of waking up or commuting in the dark.
Last Sunday we went on a small snowshoe explore in the Champlain Valley, and then yesterday I snowshoe-commuted to work. The heavy snow of late last week was followed by wind, and the trails were covered in drifts.
So was everything else, for that matter. I’ve remarked before that winter in Vermont reminds me of the desert at times. Never is this more true than on a wander in drifting snow.
In my last post I wondered whether Lake Champlain would ‘close’, or freeze all the way across. Not surprisingly, it did, and for that matter so have most of the Great Lakes. All of these lakes usually help to moderate cold temperatures, but with ice on them, they do not, adding an extra edge to the late winter’s cold, and shutting down most lake effect snowfall.
Snow can make even the most mundane places seem like a wilderness. I found this little block of untouched snow in a parking lot median near the Williston Old Navy. The persistent wind had even ‘shoveled’ snow away from the poles.
I didn’t see any reason not to indulge my urge to stomp through this snow, which wasn’t as deep as it is back in Montpelier (we have around two feet in Montpelier now, so stomping without snowshoes just gets you soaked).
In the center of the little block of snow I found this little maple seed – probably a box elder.
In nature it would blow about on the snow until spring, where it would melt down to the warming earth and perhaps grow into a maple. Here in this parking lot, I’m sure someone will mow it before it gets to that point.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one wandering the parking lot, as these rabbit tracks were also in the area. The rabbit opted to walk through the plowed area rather than stomp through snow over its head.
Here’s my favorite view of Montpelier, from a hill with a cemetery on it. I could make some kind of heavy handed comparison between death and winter, but really, it’s just a nice place. The snow drifts deep here among the tombstones.
Today brought about four inches of snow. Tomorrow may bring a few more inches. Then, Thursday night and Friday may bring an ice storm, or rain, or both. It may be that tomorrow and Thursday will hold the deepest snow of the season. Or, perhaps the thaw will be mild, and more storms will come later this month and pile it higher. Either way, dripping maple taps, rushing meltwater-fed streams, and awakening amphibians are just around the corner. In the mean time, I’ll just enjoy the ice while it lasts.