An autumn storm turned Nahant Marsh into a winter wonderland for a time. Although winter itself is still some ways off, a substantial snow fell in mid November, sticking to the trees and meadows of the marsh in a thick white covering. The warm earth, nowhere near to freezing, stayed soft and yielding under the blanket of deep, powdery snow.
The cold that brought the snow did freeze the surface of the marsh at least thick enough to hold the birds. The geese at the marsh—not as many as earlier in the autumn but still quite a few, stood around on the ice. Some curled up for a rest while their flock mates kept watch. Many gulls rested out in the middle of the ice too.
Not all the water was ice, the unfrozen ground and its insulating cover of snow kept watery puddles liquid yet hidden. Just a skim of ice was enough to hold a concealing layer of snow. And the ice where the geese were standing may well have been just thick enough to hold a goose and not much more. It was soft autumn snow and ice, not quite like that of hard, deep winter.
The soft snow and new ice did not last long. The clinging snow slipped from the branches within hours. After only a day or so of temperatures cold enough to keep the snow from melting, late autumn weather resumed—including drenching rains on Thanksgiving Day. All of the snow and ice was washed away.
Nahant Marsh, now in shades of grays and browns, still unfrozen and full of autumn rain, heads day by day into winter. Although the first snow of the season did not last long, no doubt other snows will follow—just in case you missed it—on the long journey to spring.