Enduring Deepest Winter

Snow and bitter cold slipping down from the northern pole persisted through all of January and into February. The snow that fell before winter even started has stayed. Carried and carved into shapes by the stiff arctic winds, snow lies in layers in the meadows and on the frozen surface of Nahant Marsh.

It has been a winter to remember, as bitterly cold, as snowy, as unrelenting as the harshest of winters gone by. Even so, there are edges of water and ice. The places where water and ice meet are always interesting and changing. I often saw holes punched through the thinner ice, sometimes the center shimmering with reflection on liquid water, sometimes refrozen in thin, clear ice.

Although most of Nahant Marsh is deep frozen, there is open water there and on the nearby Mississippi River. The open water seems to invite birds. The tiny pools at Nahant fill with many ducks, all hanging tough through winter. They apparently have no plan to go farther south.

The larger open places offered on the river have also been hosting ducks and larger birds like geese. Many eagles have gathered along the river this winter, perhaps all the more because it is a hard winter. And, gliding along the edge of the river ice one day in deepest winter, swans.

It seems surprising, and fierce and daring of them, that the creatures can push the edge of the ice as they do. Enduring and waiting for winter to melt away as it surely will. The sun does shine longer and stronger each day. A few birds have already started singing their “welcome back light” songs. No need to go farther south. Midwinter has already passed.

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