SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 20, 2014

Our view: Goodbye winter, hello spring

Potholes. Over-extended highway budgets. Final school days pushed into late June.

Those are among the high costs of an extended winter that has pushed spending into the red and the region’s population into a deep state of melancholy.

Winter grabbed us early and appears increasingly unwilling to let us go.

The latest to fall victim to the season of our discontent are sugar makers. They watch the mercury sink and stay there, their sap lines frozen, their buckets empty of the sweet offerings expected from maple trees.

It takes a lot of sap, some 40 gallons, to boil down to a single gallon of syrup, and the window of opportunity is closing. A good sugaring season requires daytime temperatures above freezing and nighttime lows below that. Warm up too fast and the maples start to bud, lending an unpleasant taste and a bad year for maple producers.

There have been shortages of ice melt to keep sidewalks and stairways skid-free. Those who stay warm with pellet stoves have turned to social media to find a supply to keep the home fires burning.

A local fuel dealer’s troubles have left customers shivering, either from empty fuel tanks or dreaded anticipation of such. Even firewood dealers long ago ran out of seasoned wood, the most efficient fuel source for those who keep the night fires burning.

Winter has taken its toll in other ways, too.

Even schoolchildren have lost that tingle of excitement when school closings scroll across the bottom of the TV screen. The notion of spending most of June in a stuffy classroom rather than at a local beach makes another unexpected day off less appealing.

Some local psychiatrists and social service workers report symptoms of depression have worsened, melancholia has many stuck to the couch, hands alternating between the remote and yet another bag of chips.

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