Winter, an artist’s sketch in charcoal,
so clearly etched against a cloud filled sky . . .
~ from the song “Winter”
After weeks of “real” winter, complete with snow, ice, and sleet, the rains came yesterday. Thick layers of snow and ice began to crumble and melt in the suddenly warm temperatures, assaulted by alternating pounding rainstorms and soft drizzles. By evening, a fog had arisen between the melting snow and the warm air and swirled upwards throughout the night. This morning, mist and fog lay heavily in the woods and along the streams, turning the winter landscape into a mysteriously beautiful January thaw.
I felt as if I were moving through a dream as I walked through the woods. The dark trunks of immense oaks stood like sentinels guarding a secret kingdom in the mist, fading to gray in the distance. Drops of water clung to delicate twigs and buds like sprays of crystals. Snow lingered in pockets, slowly seeping into the garden beds and revealing fresh green growth.
“January thaw is an observed but unexplained temperature rise in mid-winter found in mid-latitude North America.” (Wikipedia) The thaw is generally centered around the date of January 25, when a rise of temperatures by 10 degrees Fahrenheit occurs for about a week. The Farmer’s Almanac notes its common designation as “false spring” and compares it to the phenomenon of Indian Summer, the predictable surge of warm weather in autumn. This year, certainly, the thaw is more than 10 degrees warmer than usual; yesterday’s temperature reached 50 F and today will be a balmy 64 F.
The sun is shining now, the mist a memory. I intend to celebrate the January thaw by working in the garden while dreaming of the arrival of “real spring.” Enjoy the morning walk in the woods with me. (Click on any photo to trigger the gallery view)
There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues.
– Hal Borland