|Warmer temperatures have arrived at last, encouraging the wintersweet bush by the front steps to start blooming. It has a heavenly scent; hence the "sweet" in the name.|
|The winter pansies were squashed by snow and ice, but I suspect it won't be long until they recover.|
|The back yard on Thursday, after two days of heavy rain. Almost all the snow is gone.|
|Even the lethal back lane, where ice was so treacherous the garbage trucks wouldn't attempt it, was almost clear on Wednesday and ice-free by Thursday.|
|The front garden still had some snow on Wednesday, but it was all gone a day later, thanks to the rain.|
On the weekend, John threatened he was "going to start getting cranky" if the weeks of cold, ice and snow that have kept him off his bike since early December didn't end soon. The nature gods must have heard him, because on Tuesday, the temperatures rose and a deluge of rain began melting the snowbanks and the ice off our streets and sidewalks.
The sun even broke through on Wednesday as John and I walked home from downtown, and suddenly, that old feeling of spring -- the sense of freedom and relief so familiar from my prairie childhood -- was upon us. On Thursday, John went for his first bike ride since the snow arrived Dec. 5, and I chose my walking route without ice as the decisive factor.
In the back yard, the foot-high banks of snow I have been clambering over melted in two days to a few token spots of white. The ferns are flattened, squashed by the weight of the snow; the primulas are scruffy, and the unclipped hydrangeas are brown and sagging. But the yellow buds of the wintersweet bush are starting to open, and the winter pansies look ready to bloom again, given half a chance.
Now that the ice that sealed off their food sources is gone, the squirrels and birds are back to their familiar routines. On Thursday, I watched as a squirrel dug into the compost pile, probably for buried nuts. A bird tore away at old leaves on the ground to get at the goodies in the earth below. I suspect our backyard wildlife are as happy about the end of the ice age as we are.
|The back garden on the weekend, when the snowdrifts were high and the squirrels enjoyed the birdseed I put out in the birdbath.|
|This squirrel reluctantly left his perch when I came out to photograph him, but was soon back at the birdseed.|
|Sometimes the birds actually got a chance at the food.|
|This was what the uncleared sidewalks were like a few days ago, before rain came to the aid of homeowners who don't believe in shovelling. It was so treacherous that I walked on the roadway instead.|
|A park last week, when the warming/melting routine had put a hard crust of ice over the snow. It looked safe, but was so slippery that I turned back instead of crossing the park.|
|The neighbours' yew hedge, weighted down by the heavy snow during one of our early snowfalls. Many shrubs and hedges were bent out of shape by the weight of the wet snow, which then turned to ice.|