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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Today has been as near a typical March day as anyone could ever imagine - except it wasn't as warm as it should be.  Of course.  Just because it's March doesn't necessarily mean we should be blessed with mild weather for more than a couple days. March is known for wind and change, and that we've had plenty of today. We had beautiful sunshine after a doubtful start and overnight snow amounting to two inches.  However, those two inches of snow were enough to raise havoc on some of the roads, like Route 2 along Joe's Pond, where the wind blew great white clouds in long gusts that slowed traffic and created mini-drifts stretching onto the pavement. East of West Danville the weather was somewhat less wild, but even in St. Johnsbury, it was bitterly cold in spite of the bright sun thanks to that March wind.  There is warmth in the sun, and streets and highways were wet and slushy in places - our back roads again showing tentative signs of mud after being solidly frozen last night, but today the actual air temperature never got much above 30 degrees.  Probably not a sap day.  

In 1898, 15 inches of Ice was reported at Joe's Pond in February, and at the end of the month over a foot of snow fell so that by March 4th, West Danville folks were complaining about the roads being so poor.  Traveling was reduced considerably, "but the lumbermen keep their teams going and the mill yard is full of logs," reported the St. Johnsbury Caledonian.  By the end of March, things had improved and the lower pond was nearly free of ice; but a sudden cold spell froze it over again and nobody was getting any sap for sugar making, according to the April 6th edition of the newspaper.  However, by the first week in May, the sugaring season was over and an "average crop of good quality" was reported, and the ice was completely out of the pond. May brought heavy rain and electrical storms.  The following year, 1899, on May 3, a Sunday, "at 3 p.m. the thermometer stood at 80 degrees in the shade," and although the ice went out on May 9th, there were still some drifts of snow as farmers began their spring work.   

Somehow it always makes me feel a little better about the weather when I go back in history and find that not much has changed.  It's interesting, too, that the earliest settlers coming to this area came in March and waded through waist-deep snow to get to their meager homesteads.  Coming mostly from settlements "down south" in Peacham and Newbury, they had no notion of how different the weather would be in Danville and Cabot, and that winter had not yet lost it's grip on the land.  I imagine more than one family became discouraged and turned back.  We admire those that remained and worked so hard to eke out a living here. 

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