Percy, Nutmeg and I carefully picked our way through the alley behind our house this morning. Three neighbors and I shoveled about a quarter of it last Sunday (it was such a pleasure to meet two and get to know all three a bit better), but the rest is still blanketed with crunchy snow and slippery, refrozen black ice. The temps have hovered around the freezing point since Sunday, but if you look closely at the ground as you walk -a good idea anyway when ice abounds- you see the life that's being lived in pockets of warmth that enable some thaw. It's really quite beautiful and also provides a happy reminder that spring always comes, even though February works awfully hard to make us all believe it won't. I saw a slim river of water flowing between ice and pavement, heard the glassy sheets crackle under the weight of feet and paws and couldn't help but stop and try to capture some of the landscape.