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Luskin: Late Season Snow

When we still hadn’t had significant snow by the end of January, I started hoping for a Valentine’s Day snowstorm like the one that redeemed the winter of 2007. That was the first snowfall that season and rescued people like me who love winter from the despair of a barren season.

Still without snow at Town Meeting on March first this year, I started dreaming about the Great Blizzard of 1888, reputed to have dumped the greatest amount of snow ever in a single storm in the United States. I would have even welcomed the low temperatures and high winds of that famous storm just to be able to make a single foray into the Green Mountain National Forest on backcountry skis or snowshoe to the summit of Stratton. But no such luck. Any snow that fell in March was quickly washed away by dismal winter rain. So I set my sights on April. Then earlier this week, just enough snow fell mid-state to make traveling treacherous.

This wet, sloppy snow isn’t the kind I dreamt of all winter, and it won’t last. The kind of deep, soft, snow I’ve been longing for is rare in April, but it has happened – and fairly recently - when about fifteen inches fell in 2007. Historically, April has seen other big, late storms, like the one that dumped sixty inches in Danville on April first in 1807. In fact, we did have our best snowfall in April this year, but it was too little, too late. The crocuses were already in bloom.

I’ve even seen snow in early May. Back in the late eighties I once woke to daffodils doubled over with heavy, wet snow.
But it was just a few inches and gone by noon. And there’ve been even later storms. Twelve inches were recorded in parts of Vermont in 1842 on June 11. And then there was the famous Year Without A Summer in 1816, also known as “eighteen hundred and froze to death,” on account of the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. Volcanic ash dimmed the sun, causing agricultural failure across North America and Western Europe.

I like a deep, cold, winter and the subsequent excitement for spring. Without a good winter, I’ve been reluctant to take off my snow tires, and unenthused about planting my early season crops. Each time I push my spade into the dirt, I think, maybe we’ll get piles of snow - next year.

Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, speaker and educator.
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