Weather plays mean joke on bears, trees and people

JOHN HARRIGAN March 24. 2012 11:37PM

THIS IS an awesome time of year anyway because of all that happens on the cusp of one season passing into another, with every living thing in nature getting ready to do everything it can to perpetuate the species - and now this crazy weather to boot.

Conversations with two state employees offered vignettes on the euphoria and problems that freakish warm weather in March can bring.

I was seeking up-to-date information on the status of Nonesuch Road, which leads to our normal trailhead parking spot, where we don pack baskets for the hike into camp at Unknown Pond, a glacial bowl, high-country pond that unfortunately harbors nothing but members of the carp family.

The lady on the phone in Concord could offer no information, but we had a good time discussing the ramifications of the weather. 'People are going around with their tops down,' I said in amazement, thinking that I should have said I meant in their vehicles, not on the beach. She replied, with some amazement, that her daughter had been driving around with the air conditioner on. 'I asked her why they didn't just open the windows,' she said, and there ensued a conversation about today's technology-obsessed generation.

The other state employee I tried to get road information from was just back to his usual Pittsburg haunts after doing temporary duty at Hampton Beach, to which people flocked like lemmings marching into the sea. I didn't ask him anything about tops being down, but he said people were packed in there like herrings.

Another Pittsburg friend was out on snowshoes a day or two earlier scouting for moose antler sheds - they are prized by collectors and can fetch a pretty penny - when his dog alerted him to a particular pile of brush. 'I thought it was maybe a raccoon in there or something,' he said, but it turned out to be a not-so-sleeping bear, which kept an open eye on its visitor but otherwise seemed under no inclination to move. 'I got my picture and got out of there,' the antler-seeker said.

So here it all is, in a nutshell:

I have two instruments outside the front door, a rake and a snow shovel. Which is it going to be? Trees are budding everywhere, including maple trees, spelling the end of sugaring and threatening the state's $7.6 million apple industry.

Skunks are out - which, in a normal year, are often followed by peepers, but the peepers are too smart to be fooled. And I'm only having to load the outdoor furnace every 36 hours, knowing full well that it's all just a cruel joke.

And the trip to camp? We'll drive as far as we can, park the truck at the first washout, impassable mudhole or deep drift of snow and then make the rest of the trip in on shank's mare, same as always, the only variable being how far.

John Harrigan's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. His address is Box 39, Colebrook 03576. Email is

John Harrigan

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