The Gale River rose this morning to nearly level with the road. Yesterday afternoon there were ice dams clogging the river along Route 18 in Franconia. The temperature was 53 degrees. On January 30. In New Hampshire.
This morning I dropped two kids at kindergarten and headed with the third to preschool, following the road that skirts the river from Franconia into Sugar Hill. The ice was cleared from the water, dog house-sized chunks of it lining the banks. The preschool is located in an old farm house, just across the road from the river. Three years ago, the low room of the preschool flooded. This morning it looked like it might again.
Within moments of our arrival, the water rose and its flow seemed to speed up. Huge blocks of ice churned along with the water. Soon we noticed sturdy tree branches and stumps carried downstream with the ice. The river seemed dangerously close to spilling its banks and creeping across the road.
This is about the third time this winter that wildly fluctuating temperatures have made the river freeze, then thaw. Normally we see ice dams only in the spring. This winter, it seems, we notice them almost weekly – clogging the river, then melting in a January heat wave and clearing out again.
In the past week we have seen temperatures drop to 20 degrees below zero and rise to more than 50 degrees above. Monday night it snowed nice, light, fluffy flakes that accumulated to a few inches. I’m happy I snuck out to ski Tuesday morning for a few runs, because yesterday it felt like April. Last night it poured. This morning the winter river rose to nearly flood level. This afternoon the wind is howling through the valleys, causing the tall white pines to dance precariously high above the ground, and pushing the cooling air through our old windows.
By tomorrow morning, the wind chill should bring the temperature back down to zero. It is supposed to snow. That sounds good to me. More winter, please. I’ll take my spring in April.