Greenpoint: Even up here, winter losing its icy grip


My friend in Connecticut has a daffodil poking up through the ground near a patch of snow. An Albany buddy has tulips coming up.

Up here, we’re still socked in with snow, although the warm days last week definitely took the snowpack down a foot. Our earliest daffodils come up near the stone wall, which soaks in the heat from the sun. Or it will, if it ever emerges from its snow fort. I’d say mid-April at the earliest.

Our 2-foot snowpack meant that those warm days were about 10 degrees cooler up here than in Saratoga or Albany. Still, it was a welcome warmup for many reasons.

My Floridan husband eased out of his winter despair, at least a little. He spent some time pushing snow around with the tractor, dreaming about when he’ll be able to get back into the garden. The ducks liked how parts of the snow mountains near the driveway melted into puddles to drink and splash in. The goats enjoyed the lazing in the sunshine.

They are losing their winter coats, rubbing off wooly tufts from underneath their fur. The fence is covered in wool and suddenly the goats don’t look so fat.

In the early part of the week, when it was still in the single digits in the mornings, the dog and I made our way on the hardpack on our forest trails, while the snow was still strong enough to walk on.

The crust was icy and it was hard to get a sure footing, even wearing crampons. The dog slipped a few times, and so did I. But we didn’t break through.

The ice layer in the woods was so thick we could hear the booms and cracks — kind of a muffled version of the icequakes a lake makes this time of year. In the woods, it sounded like something very heavy was trodding some distance away. It didn’t have the resonance of a lake icequake, but it made me realize the crust was a solid sheet through the woods.

The next morning we walked down to the lake, also frozen, to listen to the booms. There were plenty — low, resonant booms and higher-pitched cracks and squeaks. Ice does that, because even when it’s a few feet thick there is still water moving underneath, and the ice moves and shifts a little as the temperature changes. The lake ice sings all winter long, but I still thought the sounds foretold the coming of spring.

“Winter’s breaking up,” I told the dog, but she wasn’t listening. Not to me, anyway.

Even if it looks like the dead of winter here, there are signs. The sun is higher and has more warmth. The old duck started laying an egg a day, and the hens are back in production too. On the table by the back window, vegetable seedlings are coming up. We are our drawing garden maps.

No, we don’t have tulips or daffodils or even crocuses, and we won’t for some time. But winter is losing its grip and spring is on its way.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on March 28. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: Life and Arts


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