Phases of water

Saturday (Berlin, VT)

It’s bitter cold. -2 when we go out. But it’s not windy, so layers of polypro and fleece along with an outer shell are sufficient, and we’re soon warm enough.

The bright day gives us energy. Two colors dominate – the blue of the cold, clear sky and the white of the unbroken expanses of snow that cover the fields. The stubble of leafless trees on the mountains and the rundown houses add a dour touch, but that’s balanced by splashes of color – Ruth’s bright orange hat, scattered Christmas decorations, dogs frisking in the snow, wanting to play as we run by.

We power along chatting or listening to the crunch of a light layer of snow on the road beneath our feet. The vapor from our breathing creates the only visible clouds.

Soon an extra layer of fleece appears as the sweat wicks to the surface and freezes into crystals. Lacy tendrils of ice attach to the tufts of curly hair that peek out from under Ruth’s hat.

Sunday (Arlington, MA)

The sky is grey and sullen with snow, weighing down everyone’s spirits. It’s much warmer, and getting warmer still, but that just means the snow is heavier and will need to be moved before it freezes solid. As we all rush to clear the snow, filling the few available unused spaces much too early in the season, the precipitation turns to rain. Soon its absorbed by my coat and meets the sweat from shoveling, making everything uniformly damp and heavy. Waves of slush crash onto the shores of the driveway repeatedly as plows cruise by. Finally the driveway is clear enough. Rain and melt cover the asphalt, ready to become a skating rink when night falls. Running now, sloshing through more of the mess while dodging plows, is just too much effort.

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