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Six o'clock in the morning and Stella came crashing down with a vengeance. Yesterday afternoon, 24 hours after the start of daylight savings time, I savored the view of golden light spilling over the flattened corn fields as I drove home from work. The damp earth had been free of snow for nearly two weeks and the asphalt underwheel was a crackled and dry, dusty white. It was nearly seven p.m., a realization that caused me to do a mental double-take after being conditioned from a winter spent driving home in the dark. Outside, the air may have been chilly, but spring seemed inevitable. Meanwhile, over the airwaves, newscasters talked on the radio of Stella. Stella - an angry nor'easter barreling toward the northeast under a dome of rapidly decreasing pressure. It would be a storm to remember, the meteorologists promised.

And a storm to remember, it was. With just one week to the official start of spring, Stella apparently had a point to prove. What started early in the pre-dawn hours as nothing more than speckles in the atmosphere, the snow began to fall at a rate of two inches per hour by the time my morning coffee was brewing. By mid-day, Stella had been upgraded from a storm to a blizzard, and the whole of New York State declared a state of emergency. When early evening arrived, mounds of snow blanketed the yard like a powdery ocean, heaving up and out of the yard like I've never seen before. Blue light poured into the house as Stella began to retreat; swirls of powder blew about like hyperactive plumes. From the inside looking out, the world was a snowy blur, and water dripped down the windows like the tears of a winter past.