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“What else can we say but it is really cold for early March; record levels.”  NOAA forecast discussion 3.04.19.

It was -18 when light began to fill the sky this morning.  I stepped outside to watch the lake fog roll in over the snow, and I could hear the ice floes tinkling and clacking against each other at the shoreline.  Two bald eagles, who’ve been nesting nearby, flew low over my head with their enormous wingspans.  I thought “And the raven quote, nevermore” and quickly returned indoors.  An hour or so later, as the bright sun burned off the fog, I looked out the windows and saw a sea of white–the lake had frozen over for as far as I could see.  I have never seen this before.  Flathead Lake freezes over about one in every ten years, but it’s never happened in the twenty-three years I’ve lived here.  And, it appeared to just flash-freeze–I heard water moving, and a few hours later, it was ice.  I trudged down to the lake in thigh-high snow with snow shoes, and felt such a bitter cold eerie calm.  The trees were coated in hoarfrost and I could see deer tracks down to where there had just been water.  What else can we say, indeed–it is really cold.

I saw tracks in the snow which lead from our terrace off into the woods.  The injured deer has found it much easier to eat the branches of the trees up at the picnic tables, rather than those buried in deep snow.  I see him out the kitchen window, hopping on his three good legs.  He’s eating, there’s no blood, and he looks healthy enough, but it is painful for me to watch him leave the house, and make his way through snow which reaches his underbelly.  It almost looks like he is swimming, and then he disappears into the woods at twilight.

Don is gone and I’m soon to leave, abandoning the house to the cold.  There are lots of things to do in preparation–check the thermostats, close the flue, open cabinet doors to the pipes, put jumper cables in the car, unplug the garage space heater and dehumidifier, stop the mail, take the garbage to the dump.  Then, there is nothing left to do but leave it all behind, and believe that this brutal winter–a terrible beauty–as they say about Ireland, will have released its hold over us by the time I return, and let us ease into spring.

“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run and the world would wake into itself again.  Not that year. Winter hung in there, like an invalid refusing to die. Day after grey day the ice stayed hard; the world remained unfriendly and cold.”
Neil Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants

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