No, this is not a black and white photo… see that brush of brown on the shed, bottom right? a hint of red in the barn? This is New England winter, just as I remember it: life lived many days in black, white and shades of gray. That little faint ball in the sky? Yeah, that’s the sun. Sort of.
We lived in New England for decades and loved it, but having been away for several years it is a shock to place oneself in Vermont in January. -20 F (-29 C) is very, very cold. So cold that when you go out to feed the shivering birds your hands become numb almost immediately. The good thing about -20 F is that it is accompanied by cloudless blue skies – the sort of frigid blue that makes the phrase ‘blue is a cool color’ seem completely inadequate.
Here are some of the superficial differences between winter life in New England and winter life in Rapallo or Arizona: 1) It takes 5-10 minutes to bundle up to go outside, even for a few minutes work or fun; another 5-10 to unbundle when back indoors. 2) One’s appetite increases geometrically as the temperature plunges – the colder it is, the hungrier we are and the more we eat. 3) Exercise – you can take a crunchy walk in the snow on the verge of the road, but you won’t stay out long. Or you can ski, skate, or winter hike, each of which may well involve a drive somewhere. 4) And if you decide to take that drive… well, I’ll let the photos below from our trip back to the airport tell the tale:
In all we saw a total of 10 cars off the road on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 89 in New Hampshire. Fortunately we did not suffer this fate and I reached my plane, thanks to daring driving by M., with 15 minutes to spare.
Stepping into the 70 F night air at Sky Harbor Airport was a shock of another sort, as was smelling the perfume of the blooming tree off the deck and standing outside, uncoated, to admire the wash of stars in the dark, moonless sky.
Would I go back to New England in the winter? In a heartbeat.