Despite the thin layer of snow that coated trees and sidewalks yesterday morning, for those fortunate enough to live in coastal Massachusetts this will be remembered as the winter that almost wasn't.
The several inches forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday morning came down mostly as rain; no shoveling or plowing required. It was a different story for those living just to the west and north where the precipitation was mostly of the frozen variety.
Not that anyone here is complaining. There are no ski resorts in these parts, and the relatively mild temperatures and lower-than-normal heating bills have helped soften the blow of rising gasoline prices.
Particularly pleased with this unusually mild winter are mayors and town managers. They tend to err on the conservative side when proposing their snow removal budgets, so this time of year often finds them contemplating how to make up the deficit in that account. Happily, many are now trying to figure out what to do with the surplus.
"We're still keeping our fingers crossed," Peabody Finance Director Patricia Schaffer told reporter Jesse Roman earlier this week. "If it comes through and we have a good year, we'll take it. We haven't had a good year in a while."
That sentiment is no doubt being echoed by businesses and homeowners across the North Shore. Here it is March 3 and we've only received the occasional dusting. And given the fact spring arrives two weeks from Tuesday, any snow that happens to fall between now and then won't stick around long.
"We're thinking about spring already," Salem DPW assistant director Ronald Malionek told Roman.
So is everybody else, we suspect, anticipating not only spring, but those sultry days of summer when the same ocean that keeps us warmer than most this time of year, sends forth its cooling breezes.