These are the days when the temperature creeps up close to the melting point, and the strengthening sun pushes sand and dust particles up over that crucial point, thawing a honeycomb of brown-lined caves into the south sides of the snow ridges along the street. I noticed it beginning a week or so ago, when the air temperature was still staying well below zero, but the solar melt had begun.
Last week, too, I noticed my neighbour blowing the bank of snow away from the wall of his house. He piles it up there all winter, keeping the house warmer, and then when the thaw approaches, he clears it away and keeps the house dry. I wonder how he knows when to do it.
These are the days when the sun warms the pavement, and any snow that sifts across it in a breeze is apt to stick. On Monday I got out on the highway and found it a skating rink, so I crept along for two miles and then escaped to the safety of a gravel back road to finish the trip to Carlyle. On Thursday I went directly to the back road.
These are the days, some years, when I am starting to wonder where I will pile the snow if I have to shovel any more. This year, I am just wishing it would snow. I'd take a picture of the snow pile, to compare to other years, but there isn't one. Aside from clearing a bit away from the doorway, I haven't shovelled snow all winter. My neighbour's snow bank against his house was so small, I think he cleared it in one pass with the blower. Our snow is just packed on the driveway, because it never got deep enough to bother. Last winter I think we had more snow on the ground in November than we've had throughout this winter. And last winter there was almost no runoff.
These are the days when I notice horned larks again. I don't know if they've just returned, or if they've been here for a few weeks but I've finally returned to the back roads to see them. What wonderful symbols of hope they are, adapting to fallow field and gravel road side, returning to this snowy barren landscape before there is any sign of spring except the quick flash of their own tiny wings and black-edged tails.