Large mounds of dirty snow looming on the fringes of school and shopping center parking lots are testament to the worst winter in recent memory. In Maryland winters past, most snow that fell in January and February had melted by the second week of March. Any snowfall in mid-March typically would melt within days, if not hours, after hitting the ground. This year, the snow and ice are still hanging around like houseguests overstaying their welcome.
Thanks to these dingy piles of snow, we still wander around with winter on our minds even though spring is officially but a week away. Listen in on any extended conversation and weather invariably becomes the focus. The weather-related topics range from the horrendous drives to and from work in sleet and ice to animals that slipped and fell on fields that became as slick and hard as hockey rinks.
Just about any meteorological chitchat also includes a discussion about the inevitability of that one final winter storm. The Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack predicted the blizzard would arrive this past weekend, but we had a splendid period of bright sunshine. Given the accuracy of that particular almanac in forecasting the number and timing of the storms this winter, however, most of us have trouble believing this winter has finally loosened its grip.
Instead of the profusion of seed and fertilizer supplies we usually see this time of year in hardware and feed stores, a number still prominently display snow shovels, salt and windshield scrapers. Cars and trucks remain caked with salt and road grime. It seems that many of us are unwilling to spend the time or money to wash our vehicles for fear that one more storm will only dirty them again.
Nevertheless, look closely; subtle signs are appearing that spring's rescue is on the way. Dormant leaf buds are swelling on trees. Tender shoots of crocus are beginning to emerge from the ground. The weather is still too cold to smell the earth, but in a couple of weeks that loamy aroma of soil will waft through the air.
The bright sun is warm enough to enable getting around without heavy winter garments during the middle of the day, but it is too early to stow the overcoats and parkas into the back of the closet and pull out the spring clothes.