Archive for March, 2019

Pictures from March Snowstorm

March Snowstorm

My mother, skiing on a frozen marshland.

It’s a quiet morning, and I wake up a little earlier than I’m used to. Outside, snow is already softly blanketing the ground. The sky is hazy shade of grey, the treetops barely visible in the squall. I can’t see as far down my winding driveway as usual, but a quick glance out of the windows confirms that today won’t be the day that the marsh by our house melts. About halfway down my driveway, a path cuts through the woods and opens up to what is usually a marsh with water 2-3 feet deep. In the summer, cattails and lily pads cover the water, along with other various grasses. Often times, a beaver will build a dam out in the center of the water. Now, however, all that’s really growing is the various coniferous trees that fill the forests and the edges of the swampy area.

In the town where I live – Mont Vernon, NH – is about 16.7 square miles, only 0.5% of that area is covered in water. Most of it can be found in Carlton Pond and Purgatory Brook, which actually is about a 3 minute drive from my house. This little marsh brings an interesting cast of characters in the summer, but in the winter my family makes the most of it through cross country skiing. After a nice breakfast, I pull on my cross country boots and help my dad get my dog into her harness. We attach her to a harness that my dad wears, and she can pull him a bit as he skies. Most of the snow on the marsh is untouched a new, so when we glide over the snow-covered ice, the trails broken in are completely fresh. Koda, my dog, is a sled dog by breed. She’s a chinook, the New Hampshire state dog, and her breed has been used as working animals historically in the state. In the White Mountains, there’s an old historic farm that used to be where they bred the chinooks – and the first ever “Chinook”, the father of the breed, actually accompanied Admiral Byrd on an Antarctic expedition in 1929. It’s no wonder Koda looks so happy in the snow as we ski, chasing after my brother and I when we get too far away on the lake.

Besides the history of my dog, Mont Vernon’s landscape has the typical New England history. It has always been a small town, with the current population barely over 2,500 people. Established in the early 1800s after separating from the larger neighboring town, Amherst, it was predominantly a farming town until the Civil War. Following that, it became a tourist attraction for the people of Boston who wished to escape the summer heat in the more northern, forested areas. When the automobile was invented, the traffic through the town was decimated, and took a further hit when the Great Depression occurred. People at that point were able to get up to the White Mountains fairly easily, so Mont Vernon was no longer a desirable location. Population at its lowest in the town was about 300 people, but it became a residential town in the 50s and 60s, when working in nearby cities became popular. It has remained residential ever since.

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