Up here on the ridge above Upper Fork Road the view can be incredibly beautiful, even if the weather is not. Today snow blankets the hay fields below the house, and the open spaces that climb up on the other side of the river to join Shenandoah Mountain. The sky is between bright and gray, with an occasional slip of blue and a dab of sunlight.
Closer to the house, half way up the ridge, it isn’t always so beautiful. The snow along the sides of the driveway is still more than a foot high and showing signs of traffic. And parts look (and feel) as if they will remain frozen and white well into Spring. It represents work unfinished as much as the view across the narrow valley presents a picture of the world peacefully sleeping. And I’m ready to wake up.
It’s been about two weeks since Buddy and Teddy and I have been able to hike the ridge behind the house, or even circle the fields below. Snow is still deep and that makes walking too dificult for comfort. Of course the dogs love it, roll in it, eat it. They even do that in the snow piled on either side of the cleared part of the walkway between house and driveway. That brings loose snow down on the part we’ve shoveled clear (several times), which takes a bit more of the beauty away from the winter scenery, but Teddy and Buddy and even little Louie love to eat the snow and roll in it and make a bit more work for us. It’s part of their charm, I guess.
All-in-all we have had some winter that reminds us of earlier times here. Still never as cold, never as long as years ago. There is no sign that the earth is turning its back on the global temperature rise. Winter no longer begins in September and brings snow in May. In fact winter lasts a month or six weeks now, with dips in temperature to remind us of what we are losing.
March will soon give way to April, I know. Snow will melt and help refill the aquifer that holds the water we drink, and that is so important to all of us. Days will be pleasantly warm, nights less frigid, wood will last longer in the shed beside the furnace. Quickly, then, the white will give way to brown and that in turn will become green. And we will relax a bit.
This has been a severe winter for us even by mountain standards. The northeast has seemingly tilted toward the arctic more than just away from the sun, but it’s been tolerable here. We haven’t met snow above the top of the door, nor been unable to dig out and plow out and even drive out to the bigger world. Soon, I know, our views will be foreshortened by leaves that obscure even the branches of the trees.
The only thing, you see, is that it’s hard to visualize the Spring when Winter holds us so tight in its cold, white glove.