In a typical winter, late March is when we often get our final melt in Connecticut. There are false starts where a few snow drops will make an appearance and daffodils start to poke their heads through a veneer of snow. But invariably a late winter blast burys any hope of an early Spring. After a season of snow that goes from white to grey, a few days of rain combined with increased temperatures washes away winter’s precipitation. It’s not a warm rain but rather a cold, miserable one that forces a fire to keep the chill off the body.
The melt happens in phases and often in a fog as the rapid change of temperatures makes the snow sublimate directly into water vapor. It creates a surreal view of nature as the layers of snow and time are revealed through an unfocused and fuzzy lens. Footprints emerge and fade with each layer and soon you realize how many different creatures traversed your land over the course of a season. There are the less pleasant reminders of how many times the dog was not taken out for a walk, but rather than disappear as do the footprints, the reminders multiply until their final pattern decorates the lawn.
An undulating smooth blanket of white gives way to sticks and mud and leaves that were not raked last Fall. Broken branches are ready to be trimmed. Remaining brown seed heads have rotted and are of no further use to the birds. The uniformity has become more complex in the collection of plants that are dormant and seemingly devoid of life. But life is starting to emerge in the smell of rot and the push of early crocuses. It is a messy time that is the prelude to growth.