the january thaw

Sarah told me, at the end of fall when I was starting to get anxious about winter, that every January we have a thaw. The temperature rises into the 40°s and when you've been dealing with 20° below 0°, those 40°s feel like 70°s. I noticed it yesterday. We rarely look at the weather report in winter, as it is usually cold and snowy and any deviation from that is just colder and snowier

So yesterday Nick and I were snowshoeing a potential farm property. A charming 125 acre bowl of pasture and maples with the sweetest 1938 brick home in the center. The last time we saw this place it was 9h45 and a whopping 7°F. I didn't notice the dramatic change in weather at first as we broke trail through the stand of pine's ready to be harvested, and I didn't notice it as we climbed higher still into the  scattered grove of birch. As we came down into the front pasture through maples we eyed for sugar-potential the sun began to sink, resting just above the tree line. We stood still to take it in and I felt it. The thaw. I promptly stripped off the wool jacket, the down vest, and the wool sweater I had put on out of habit. I threw off my gloves and with a manic half-smile just stood there to embrace the mild.

My theory is this thaw exists to give those that live in the north a hope and reminder of the other side of winter. This weekend the temperatures will continue to rise to the 40°s each afternoon. We are scheduled for precipitation and so that means rain during the day and frozen sleet at night. It will make a mess of home, barn, and skiing trails. It will make morning and evening chores a slushy, muddy, poopy affair. But in no time at all the temperatures will drop again and we will have snow on the ground for at least 60 more days. We will hay the animals for at least 100 more days. We will have cold nights and hard frosts until the end of May.  We won't be in the pond until the end of June. In other words, winter is far from over. It has really only just begun. But the thaw is most welcome in my home as I grow accustomed to the Vermont cold.

And the above is me and my new guitar and Rudy learning to share a space with it on the bed (and the couch, and the comfy chairs). And that light (!!) coming in is from sunrises we didn't see all December. 


  1. I know exactly what you mean! It was 42 F here yesterday (in Iowa) and I rode my bike with my 1 yr old and only wore my down vest over a sweatshirt and didn't bother with a hat under my helmet and the whole day felt so Spring-like and balmy to me. I guess that's what it's like after weeks of below freezing temps.

    Here's to hope of more balmy days in the not so distand future!

    And happy new year to you, Nick, and the farm!

  2. I got a baby taylor for XMAS! They're such nice instruments, mine is perfect for traveling and my tiny hands but still has a great sound.


  3. Yay for a new guitar! I've never played but, always wanted to learn. I hope you enjoy jammin in the sunlight : )

  4. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/halcyon_days

    These warmer days of January are called "halcyon days" here in Greece.
    Oh, and I really love your blog!

  5. Oh, those are tasty artichokes ready to be cooked in a copper sauce pot. By the way, I admire your blog for the beauty of nature and farm and thoughtfulness in writing.


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