January Thaw

Looking at the forecasts for tomorrow—temperatures in the 50’s with heavy rain—I recall times in the past and in my youth when the January thaw arrived.

Winters are long in the Northeast, even in these days of climate change. If the snow isn’t as deep or doesn’t arrive as early, the time is long anyway before the buds swell and the flowers bloom. One way to greet the Thaw is with gratitude. I can remember one such event when the smell of the earth suddenly filled the air and gave hope for an eventual spring. Heady stuff, that.

Of course rain on snow isn’t the best kind of thaw and as a matter of fact can even produce some dangerous situations. The Historical Society has photographs of downtown Brattleboro and the surrounding Connecticut and West River valleys when thaws cause massive ice jams and flooding of the fields and low areas near the rivers. The flood of 1869 stands out among those. That was April, true. But we don’t want that.

So far, no one is predicting anything so dire for tomorrow.

So I’ll hope that the ground isn’t left entirely bare, that the inevitable cold snap that follows won’t turn the roads into skating rinks, and that there are moments when the air seems lighter, less leaden, and we can turn back to winter a little refreshed anyway.

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