My Turn: New Hampshire’s winter that wasn’t

For the Monitor
Friday, March 04, 2016
Remember the winter of 2014-2015, when we all thought spring would never come? When the big storms started early and ended late, and we were up to our eyeballs in mounting snows? When for months the town plow went by day and night, its drone muffled by the deep banks on the sides of the road, and you shelled out a fortune to the neighborhood plow guy to clear your driveway so you could get out in case of fire? When everyone waddled around in goosedown, looking like Nanook of the North? When you couldn’t find your car in the supermarket parking lot, where every car looked like a hippo just out of a mud wallow?

Where we live, we had a 72-hour power outage around Thanksgiving, and that meant firing up the kitchen wood stove and tending it every two hours, night and day, and digging out the lanterns and candles. It was all enough to make you consider shoving your mate down the cellar stairs.

Meanwhile, our neighbor, a global-warming denier, was ecstatic, crowing, “So much for global warming!”

Last year, by the end of the season, Concord had endured 92 inches of snow. This winter, by the end of February, the snow total in Concord was 24 inches. (Our denier neighbor has been curiously quiet.)

This winter, everyone’s babbling happily about the “open” winter, though most add – as if tossing a pinch of salt over their shoulders – “We’ll pay for it later!” We guess they fear next year could be another 92-incher, or worse.

This winter we’ve walked in the woods without having to thrash with snowshoes, and hardly touched the woodpile in the cellar. One day in mid-January, a guy jogged by the house in nothing but shorts, sneakers and a baseball cap on backward – a sight so rare I wondered if he was a perv scoping out the ’hood.

So there’s been little snow to fuss about. But we have caught (so far) nine mice down cellar, all around the woodpile. Seven of the nine died instantly, but two poor wee things lingered with broken necks, and hobbled hither and yon across the cellar floor, dragging their traps behind them.

Our denier neighbor lives in an ancient house full of cracks and holes, and this winter she’s had all manner of animal invaders: mice in cupboards, raccoons and porcupines in the woodshed attached to the house, a rat in the cellar, one that died over the kitchen ceiling, and another that died in a wall (blecch!). Because she doesn’t want to kill any living creature (well, except maybe dog ticks and the dreaded, sesame-seed-size lyme-disease-carrying black-legged ticks, and blackflies and mosquitoes – and, soon come ZIKA!), she has a room crammed full of Havahart traps in all sizes.

Well, the seas are rising, and the planet’s cooking up, and who knows what next winter will bring. We’re 860 feet up here, so when the water in the nearby rivers starts to creep up our hill and we can’t get out to gather food, we figure we can plant the praties in the field behind the house, and when the end time comes we can get in the kayaks and paddle off into the choking smog.

But our denier neighbor, if she figures to save all those animals, will have to build an ark. Any way you figure, we’re gonna pay for this mild winter.

(Jane Wingate lives in Strafford County. Her website is

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