THE RETURNING CHILL
If you look back a couple days you will see how I pointed out the isobars to the east of a series of lows brought winds from Cuba all the way up to Labrador. Now we are to the west of the same series of lows, and if you look at the above map you will see the wind is coming from frozen Hudson Bay all the way down to Florida.
Alas, for it was so nice to feel a bit of the south, and watch the snow wilt. The March sunshine was a glory all day, and filled me with a dimly remembered fury of hope, which, (because I’m old and know better than expect Spring this early,) I kept under control. However a few foolish birds have come north way too early, and are looking about our arctic landscape with quizzical expressions.
My wife and I were walking out by the flood control reservoir when we heard the trill of a male blackbird. Last year, on this date, the ice had all melted and the landscape was brown and snowless, and it made perfect sense to have blackbirds back and checking out the brown cattail rushes at the edge of the water. However this year the water is frozen, and the world is white, and, though it may have been my imagination, I thought the blackbird’s trill ended with an incredulous question mark.
In this brilliant landscape it is the crows that rule the roost. This time of year they gang about calling, “Thaw! Thaw!” However I abruptly heard them more strident, calling, “Caw! Caw!” They had spotted a threat, and as they came nearer I told the children at the Childcare to be alert and watch the distance for a loping coyote or skulking fox, but then saw the crows all cluster around a pine, and not look down.
The children got tired of waiting, and drifted away, and the crows apparently felt the same, and swooped away low, black and glinting sunlight against the white snow. As soon as they were gone a silver hawk dipped down from the pine and stroked northwards on swift wings between the trees.
I was surprised. Just as it seems too early for the March sun and the blackbird, it seems too early for the hawks to come north. They should not be returning, when the wind is returning to the north.
The brilliant day sunk to a clear twilight, with a sinking thumbnail moon, and as I looked at the moon I abruptly remembered the comet, and hurried to get my binoculars. However, even when dark returned, and cold returned, I could see no sign of the comet’s return.
Unless, just above the thumbnail moon, I saw a black not quite so black…However by then the image was starting to jump about, due to shivers, because the cold was penetrating.
And, if you look at the above map, you will see the cold would get colder. The secondary cold front hadn’t even brought the arctic down to us yet. What was returning was not the spring, but the winter.
Of course, this is to be expected in New Hampshire, in March. One could even raise an index finger, and make a pronouncement in regal tones: “He who expects spring before the Ides of March will be a fool before the first of April.”