Melrose after the storm

... and the most beautiful day of the year

from SilverStringer Don Norris

Our city -- and the rest of this northeast corner of our country -- was hit with a series of three storms in late December and early January. The first was wet and the snow was heavy; it clung to everything, turning the world into a crystal maze. I'd hate to count the heart attacks and broken backs that occurred during that first storm.

In the right photo, it is the lack of a straight line in the branches of our pignut hickory tree -- and the coating of snow that accentuates its haphazard scribble. Fascinating. In the left photo, the random lack of a pattern in my neighbor's front garden becomes insignicant as the snow clings to a zillion branches. I feel better that I can see a pattern, at last.

There is a majesty in a snow storm. Our second one began with a moist snow that painted our town crystaline white -- but then the temperature dropped, and a light fluffy layer a foot deep fell, adding to the beauty of New England.

At the left the snow weighs heavy on the forsythia bank. It reminds me once of a cake I tried to bake. At the right, nature provides us with an uncontrolable maze of hickory and maple branches, now accented with blue snow.

I walked about our neighborhood several times during those storms -- and certainly after the sun broke through. It is then that one can see the deep blue of the sky reflected in the snow, and where the sun hits, the snow lights up with a delicate pale yellow contrast. It is a small miracle.

Here is a new view of our neighbor's yard, usually vibrant green but now a  glittering blue. It's as if one is viewing a wonderland through the pale azure of a topaz. At the right, our contribution to Christmas decorations becomes weighty with snow; the small string of lights popped the fuse.

I walked this neighborhood while the snow was fresh, and I saw that our homes were touched with Christmas lights. Here is a sampling of neighbors who live on Spear Street, about 150 feet above the main valley that is Melrose.

That first wet storm of early December created a world of icicles as snow melted in the afternoon sun, then froze in the evenings. The ice is dramatically beautiful, but it does damage to our homes.

A neighbor's yard becomes a different kind of playground.

The snow weighs heavily on our greenery, and the bushes seem to bow to the splendor of nature's work. This is our place, with Lorry's rock garden coated in winter white.

Right after the first storm, I found a set of coyote tracks through our yard. The animal, who makes her den in the rocky forest in the southeast corner of our town, now blatantly walks through the yards of the city, looking for food for her pups. Her path came right down these stone steps, crossed Spear Street, went through half a dozen back yards, then climbed the 30-foot cliff in our back forty and took Lorry's rock garden in one graceful leap.

And while we have visited 48 of our United States, we find that the tiny city called Melrose is just about equal to the best. Even in winter.

February 1, 2008

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