We drove home last week, coming up from Lower Alabama where it was supposed to be warm (hah!) to New Jersey, where it was not supposed to be exactly warm but was supposed to be warmer than it has been. Despite the miserable weather that swept through much of the Southeast during January, we didn’t see any significant snow cover until we drove into Pennsylvania. Who knew snowstorms - or perhaps warm spells - recognized State lines?
In Pennsylvania the snow cover was solid: roadsides, yards, and fields all white. Instead of the lovely drifts and curves of a simple snowstorm, though, the ground was a solid, level, shiny sheet of white: a thick layer of ice over an even thicker layer of snow. Beautiful but oddly frightening, like driving through a cross between Antarctica and a glacier.
Once we turned east toward New Jersey we started seeing some trees still sheathed in ice. Since it was a gorgeous, cloudless day, they sparkled in the sun like crystal sculptures. Once over the Delaware River and into the home stretch, we saw whole groves of ice trees - breathtakingly beautiful. And where the mountains had been cut through for the road, rock walls were covered in icefalls. In one pass, the water had run over the graffiti that tags the rock and taken some of the paint with it so the icefalls had streaks of pink and blue and orange and green. Winter can make almost anything a work of art.
When we got home, we discovered that our neighbors had not only shoveled the sidewalk in front of our house, they had also shoveled our walkway up to the front door and enough of the driveway so we could get the gate open and pull the car off the street. I gifted them with home-made vegetable soup as a wholly inadequate thank-you and plan to go on so gifting them through the winter. The debt to them is so deep I may have to continue through the summer; I hope they like gazpacho.