I was about to call it a day during Tuesday's night's 11 o'clock news that Mitt Romney had come in third in the latest primary testings when a crash of thunder reminded me I had probably left my car windows open.
"This is still winter, and spring isn't until next Tuesday,'' I grumbled to myself, as I put my shoes back on, grabbed a hat and jacket, and did a quick step through the rain to the car.
I'd been right about the windows. Memory had served late, but it had served.
I can't say that for the snow shovel, however. I found it on the back seat floor, door to door where it had been since winter's last feeble attempt to make up for what there hadn't been for most of the winter. I had thought there'd be enough snow to shovel. What was there when it came didn't need shoveling; it just needed pushing..
There's usually a chemistry of the seasons that defines them better than the calendar, but this year's has been something for the record keepers to underline with red ink.
There was a massive runoff of snow melt last spring that was surprisingly orderly. Summer was indistinguishable from most summers, but autumn lacked the character we look forward to every year, and as for those hiccups of snow we have had this winter? Well ... they just weren't what they should have been.
We're New Englanders, and our season changes should be what they're supposed to be when the calendar says it's time for them to begin and when it's time to go.
This winter was anhistoric fizzle. I had paid to get the snowblower ready to blow snow, and there wasn't enough snow to blow.
We had skateable ice down on Quill's Pond for a couple of weeks, but that was it.
That hasn't fazed Joey, my youngest grandson. He was out, late afternoon on Tuesday, wearing his street hockey garb with roller blades, hockey stick and puck, shooting driveway goals in 60-degree heat. We keep having these kinds of winters, there'll be a lot more of that.
Well, so what, some will be saying. Look at what we saved on street plowing and whatever.
Granted, but it was a winter out of character of what New England is all about. Why else would Whittier's "Snowbound'' speak so strongly over centuries of what has been central to the core of New Englanders since their coming?
Making do is what we do with what's at hand for whatever needs doing, and it's in making do in times of challenge of our winters that character has its most testing moments.
"That and a strong back,'' someone's probably saying at this point, and I would agree. But it's resolve that tests our souls and nourishes our being. We may grimace at the need to shovel, but once in hand, it connects us to the nature of our bonding,
As for that, a proper New England winter cover — one well wed to frozen earth by layered snowfall — is essential to the character and the welfare of its people. Those who farm count on it because it nourishes the soil. Those who rely on its melted runoff for electric power generation worry that there may not be enough of it to control costs.
"Well,'' I thought as I finally settled in bed to the thunderous roar over head, "so much for that. Winter's done with... well ... maybe.''
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Bill Plante is former executive editor of Essex County Newspapers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.