Postcard From New Hampshire, January 2022

New Hampshire in winter is an oddity of weather. It’s January and there’s no snow in Southern New Hampshire. Not down in the southern border states. No, not here. You’ve got to go north to find any significant snow. The mountains up north are a winter wonderland while down on the southern border just a few clumps of leftover snow wondering when the party’s going to start. The snowshoes sit forlornly in the garage, wondering when I might fly across snow fields once again. I’d have more luck in Virginia than New Hampshire this winter. Such is the way. The snows will come, later and later each year, but they’ll come… won’t they?

The morning yesterday was unusually dark. Oppressively dark. Longer than a night should be holding on dark. And then the mist started raining down, ever so lightly, coating everything in a fine film of water that quickly skinned over to ice in the frigid air. Black ice. The most dangerous ice you can deal with around here. It made hard surfaces treacherous in minutes, held on stubbornly against the rock salt cast into it, and finally conceded defeat when the temperatures warmed and the mist turned to a heavier rain. Washing ice into tall tails told by white knuckled drivers.

Rafters of wild turkey roam naked woods and frozen fields, picking at frozen edibles that only a turkey might love. They flow in and out of the neighborhoods carved into the woods like gobbling brown clouds. In this maddening world of pandemics and political strife, we have turkeys thriving in the new normal. More than I can ever recall marching to the base of feeders while squirrels retreat in consternation.

The joy in winter lies in the stillness it brings, but also in the changing landscape. There’s still plenty of time this winter for snow. For it’s still only January in New Hampshire. But it feels different this time…

And then, just when I think there’s no magic in the landscape, the sun rises just enough to catch the ice clinging to the branches and turns the brown into a brilliant kaleidoscope of color. And I see the folly in wishing for something that isn’t here instead of celebrating what the world presents instead. Winter, such as it is, offers wonder should you look for it.

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