, Newburyport, MA


March 8, 2013

You just never know about the snow


Ah, but much of Newburyport is downhill, and there’s going to runoff no matter what we do with snow.

I found this year’s pilings most impressive because the dumping area was more semi-circular and less elongated than what I recall from previous visits.

The reality of snow is that as beautiful as it can be, the charm of it doesn’t weather all that well.

Not that it’s the weather’s fault. It is just that we no longer live with horses and sleighs. We made the most of it by compacting it during the ‘20s and early ‘30s before the tinkling of sleigh bells gave way to the roar of engines and the crunching of plows.

Selective memory being one of the advantages of great age and some things of its blessing, my own reaches a time when what plowing there was left enough to slide on, and sanding of side streets was limited to some 15 feet of their bottoms.

Snowfall creates a sponge that dissolves over time. Some of it evaporates. Some melts, carrying with it whatever it absorbed to wherever it goes.

In previous years when the much-appreciated winter celebration was held at Bartlet Mall, piles of it contributed wonderfully to the fun of sledding from the upper bank to the pond below.

As spring advanced, the piles became ugly with dirt, and whatever the plows had gathered slowly gave it all up in their melting, and was washed in by rain to what has made Frog Pond bereft of frogs.

That alone did not contribute to the pond’s problems, and ongoing studies have identified what needs be done to restore its name. Without that, what do we call it? Frogless Pond?

We don’t have that problem at Quill’s Pond because it is a way station for water that runs through it. The pond has a life of its own, and we share it. So snow or not, frogs and fish will soon be doing whatever frogs and fish do in a month or so, by which time we, along with the red-wings, will be about the business of spring, and what evolves from the mess of the moment will be but a memory.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His email address is

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