It’s likely that you have heard about the big snow storm that just walloped the Mid-west and then the East coast; meteorologists called it “explosive” because the low pressure was able to draw on big hanks of moisture off the Gulf and Atlantic as it spun across the country. It has been very very cold in Maine for the past few weeks (regularly averaging below 10 °F), but we’ve had little snow — just enough to keep your steps squeaking as you cross fields, go into the woods, or finally be able to venture out onto the frozen skins of our lakes and ponds.
On Tuesday there was much talk about the ‘big storm’ and much buying of milk, bread, and cat food at the local markets. Wednesday morning we woke up to the first few powder flakes being whipped in the eddies and streams of the wind. Toward noon on Wednesday our views out the window became dimmer in a blur of white fluff. The storm continued with the blowy whiteness through the light hours until dusk at which point I ventured out to do my chores and felt the unwelcome thump of raindrops rather than the static hiss of little snow flakes while I cleared a path to the barn and brushed off our porch.
By morning the skies had cleared and the storm was over. Around nine o’clock we heard the welcome rumble of our plower at which point we strapped on our winter gear to break out our cars so he could plow all the way to the barn door. The frozen crust on the snow bent one of our shovels, and took us much longer to proceed, but we managed to get the cars out and thus a “clean plow.” The rain at the end had also coated the trees and branches with a light clear coating of ice, so everything was sparkling in the sun.
The other result of the rain is a frozen crust makes walking difficult because it’s a foot to 18 inches over the ground, it just barely holds you up for a step or two, then you fall through and then the crust is up around your knee so it’s hard to power through. Corky loves it, though, because he can scoot right across it. This afternoon, driving home from a meeting, I chanced upon a herd of seven deer sunning themselves in the middle of the road. I slowed down, of course, to wait for them to jump into the woods on either side of the road and disappear, but after one animal jumped into the snow and sunk to it’s belly, unable to move forward, it jumped back into the road, and the whole herd took off down the road toward our house. I followed them, slowly, waiting for them to find another place to scatter into the woods, and they tried a few more times, but each time they got stuck, leaped back onto the road, and continued running away, up the road. I followed them all the way to my driveway, and they were still in the road when I walked back out to the end of our driveway with Corky to check the mailbox. If a deer has trouble moving in the snow, that’s not a good sign.