The Future of Northcountry Winter | Musings on a Snowy Day

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designs on the pane give an indication of the temperature

designs on the pane give an indication of the temperature

Julia Shipley

Lacking a thermometer, I gauge how cold it is by icy calligraphy on the living room windows: a little rime means we’re nosing zero, but once designs like down feathers and fractals show up—oh boy, we’re trolling in the negatives. This morning: a whole pane of paisleys, which the town website confirms is -17.

To visit the falls, I put on double everything—pants over leggings, socks over tights, hat upon hat. The dog meanwhile wears his usual, fur. We set off walking north, up the road, and duck into the woods just before the bridge.

trail leading to the falls

trail leading to the falls

Julia Shipley

In the summer we come up here all the time to cool off in the hemlock shaded brook. There are two tiers of falls, and after a summer storm, the water’s commotion, its pour and splash is louder than all the noise in my mind.

But today, as the pug and I plod along the snowy trail, the brook alongside appears more like white alley than a waterway. Around us branches are snow-clothed, slumping. As we approach the ice- coated falls, I am thinking about an article I read over the weekend stating that the Northeast’s snow season may be half as long by century’s end, and confined to the highlands, leaving most ground bare.

 This white washed world— an endangered species?

feathery snow... endangered?

feathery snow… endangered?

Julia Shipley

Presently my north country neighborhood is utterly smothered, we are in the unmistakable heart of winter. Where the brook’s waters roar in April, it only murmurs now— lapping, bumping under the ice.

branch with boll of snow

branch with boll of snow

Julia Shipley

The dog is ready to head back, and as we scramble toward the house and its hearth, I consider that perhaps this ordinary, deep- freeze may one day be a rare experience. Years from now, I might be the oldest lady in the room, regaling the youth with my unbelievable snow stories. So, for the time being, I look closely and carefully, pause one moment longer, before opening the house door and coming in from the cold.

Comments
  • Thanks, Anne– as a writer, I’m always intimidated about posting my photos alongside the Really Amazing Images on the Yankee website. But there’s so much chilly blueness to these pictures– we can go back and look at them again when we’re sweltering in July and use them as a kind of “visual” air conditioning, right?

    Reply
  • I never knew that those “snowballs” stuck to tree branches have a real name: boils! We have seen them in our trees down here on the South Shore of Massachusetts following several of this winter’s storms. They stay longer than the snow on covered branches that we are used to, and along the highways, the rising sun makes them shine like diamonds. I’ve not noticed so many of them before this year. Julia, I am going to find your blog – I need more of your writings!

    Reply
  • Oh Julia,you have always had such a wonderful gift for sharing your thoughts and insights through your writing. But I am thrilled to see your photographic eye is just as acute! Thank you for sending me the links to this and the new article about your wonderful chickens.

    Now as we face yet once again another 8 – 10 inch snowfall down here in Philadelphia, your observations and comments about the snow and really low temperatures up your way helps to put things into a larger perspective for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic area.

    Brava, my dear, and I am very glad that all those times we took and looked at photographs together when you were growing up paid off so well ! Keep on “shooting” and sharing both your words and photos.

    Reply

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