December at Nahant Marsh brought snow that never managed to melt all the way down before another snowfall piled on. Cold weather came and stayed, and January brought even colder air as polar winds slipped down from the arctic to envelope the region for a time.
Of course the edge of ice sprinted across the surface of the water as the intense cold moved in—backed up by hard, harsh winds. But the ice is not to be trusted. There are places in the marsh that never quite freeze in spite of the cold. Places of moving water, or where the beavers happen to be locating their doorways.
It would not do to walk to boldly on the ice that lies daintily over the beaver’s front door, or rings the open pools in ever thinner edges. The water is not deep, but it is much too cold for that…yet as ever, the snow faithfully records the bare foot prints of creatures that have walked boldly to the edge. There are many tracks, and many of them show that those who made them went to the water with no hesitation. Indeed, it seems that the open water attracts the greatest concentration of tracks in the snow.
Every winter I have seen surprisingly large numbers of ducks gather in the ice ringed pools and this year is no exception. Mallards mostly, they rest and preen. Sometimes sleeping on the ice fringing the pool, and sometimes walking around on it, leaving footprints in the snow.
It is full on, deep winter in the marsh now. It is cold, snowy and icy, yet it is beautiful and lively. Don’t forget to enjoy it—and be sure to dress warm.