The winter that wouldn’t end

By Bruce Stambaugh

The winter that seemingly would not end finally has. I hope.

Spring is now within sight. The vernal equinox officially arrives on Saturday, March 20 at exactly 1:32 p.m.

That milestone won’t guarantee that winter won’t quit. But it’s nice to know that if it does show its frosty face again, the odds are in our favor that a late winter sting won’t hurt us like the series of heavy snows we incurred in January and February.

For a while there, it seemed like everything had come to a freezing halt. It would snow. The road crews worked hard to free the highways of their slippery burden, and just when you thought it was safe to travel again, it snowed again.

During a normal winter in the western Appalachian foothills of Holmes County, Ohio, a couple of feet of snow are spread over several months. This winter we recorded more than three feet of snow in February alone.

With the weight of this winter still upon us, it seems spring has been a long time in coming. It was magnificent to get an early peek at what lies ahead with the recent string of sunny, warm weather here in Ohio’s Amish country.

It’s truly amazing what warmer weather does. I only had to step outside to fully appreciate the preview of spring.

The backyard birds filled the air with their choruses. Robins came out of hiding in the thick woods to begin scouting out their nesting territories. The resident Song Sparrow, which became reclusive in winter and played it low to the ground, perched high in a crimson maple, tilted its head back and cut loose.

Over the course of just a couple of days, the blanket of snow vanished altogether. Even the huge piles of plowed snow were greatly humbled by the bright sun and balmy temperatures.

If ever there were a perfect example of cause and effect, the melting snow would be it. The ground was so saturated from the abundant moisture that Mallards swam the temporary pond in my neighbor’s grain field.

Flower petals pushed through the mushy earth, as if reaching for the inviting sun. The daffodil heads swelled, readying for their brilliant birth. In our flower gardens, Johnny Jump Ups were the first to bloom.

Life stirred in my little garden pond, too. The mountain of snow that once surrounded the poor pool did a glacial retreat. The caretaker pair of bullfrogs ventured out in search of any wayward insects, and to bask in the sunshine’s warmth.

The school of goldfish revived. The largest broke water as I cleaned out the gunk from the pump. I don’t know if it was showing off or begging for food. The pump filters were so clogged with slime it was a wonder water still flowed over the little waterfalls.

I couldn’t help but notice doors and windows open in homes, shops and cars alike as I ran errands. Shoot, those with convertibles were driving around like it was July. After this cold, snowy winter, I couldn’t blame them. It felt like it.

People personally expressed their relief that an end to this nonstop winter seemingly had arrived. They appeared more congenial to the point of being jovial.

For those who longed for an old-fashioned winter, you got your wish. Let’s hope those that hunger for a perfect spring get theirs, too.

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