The brief season of gold was swept away by a quick plunge into an early season of ice. The water of Nahant Marsh stiffened as arctic air flowed down from the north to envelope the area. Snow came too, dusting the frozen water, brown meadows and leafless woods.
Although the winter solstice is weeks away, it appears that winter is settling in to stay. Winter has made an early appearance across much of the country this year, and Nahant Marsh is no exception. The main body of water was frozen over well before Thanksgiving Day. The winter “news” is once more written plainly in the snow for all to read. As ever, only the human prints are not barefoot. As always, I shiver to see the marks of bare hands and feet in the snow, and I am glad for my warm wool socks and dry boots. I would not do well in this weather without them. Winter proper is still a long ways off. It is even longer until spring.
A few rare warmer days did come in November, raising thick fog from the ice and snow. The warmth did not stay long enough to free the water from its ice, only to erode and mark fantastic patterns it in, complete with crash holes. And long stretches of below freezing temperatures rebuilt ice lost to those brief warmer breezes.
As ever, there are yet unfrozen places. Even the depths of the coldest winter has a few places that do not freeze, or have only the most delicate crust of ice over cold water and deep mud. The ice is not to be trusted. Especially in this late autumn time, when it is not yet truly winter. The frost is working its way into the ground, but hasn’t has time to go as deep as midwinter will find it.
It may be that winter has arrived early to stay—long before its scheduled time. Perhaps a few late fall days will be in store, but the solstice grows closer everyday, and winter does seem to be quite settled in. Wear winter gear when you come out to play—unless you’re as tough as the wild creatures marking the snow with their bare feet, you will need it.