November 26, 2014
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Out of the woods?

The snow has melted away – for now, at least. Temperatures have risen into the 50s – on some days.

Baseball is being played – albeit it several hundred miles to the south and west.

All the typical signs of spring’s impending arrival appear to be in place. Now, Rhode Islanders are left to nervously ask, “Is it really over? Is this miserable winter at last behind us?”

The indications are not all positive. Temperatures were set to drop again this week. Snow remains in the forecast, even if only as a dusting or part of a wintry mix. After delays as a result of the storms that have battered much of the country in recent weeks, the state has at last received new road salt shipments – hopefully a measure that proves precautionary.

For most of us, winter’s final departure will be a very welcome development. One of the coldest seasons in recent memory, this year’s weather has taken a heavy toll. Heating bills have skyrocketed, stretching most people’s resources but especially impacting those who are struggling most. Social service agencies, public safety personnel, snow plowers and public works employees – all have been called into action this year.

The grind of cleaning cars, shoveling walks and driveways, dealing with perilous commutes, adapting to school cancellations and other scheduling shifts – New Englanders are accustomed to all of these, but there comes a point, after weeks and months of constant coping, at which our collective mood seems decidedly soured.

Cities and towns will surely celebrate spring, given the strain this year’s snow and ice have put on municipal budgets. The passing of the final freeze, hopefully, will also alleviate the massive pothole problem in many areas – an issue that has caused a spike in vehicle damage claims going before local councils and boards.

Enough about what we’re hoping to put behind us, however. What lies ahead is the true appeal.

There is baseball, of course, with little leagues now setting the wheels of a new season in motion. Prom season, holiday weekends, trips to the beach, backyard barbecues with friends and family – these are the things to which we look forward.

We’re not out of the woods yet, not by far. But increasingly, there are signs of hope. And that truly means spring is coming.


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