Every February we travel north to escape the monotonous Virginia weather and experience a week of real winter in Vermont. We particularly love to cross-country ski, and groomed trails through snowy woods abound here. Only this year, our expectations have been flipped. We left behind two feet of white powder in our Arlington driveway and arrived to fields of patchy snow in Stowe. Last week we were creating our own ski trails on the nearby schoolyard, but this week we've had only one ski outing on treacherous, icy paths. The weather has been mild enough to spend time playing outside with our young grandsons, but we've had to hunt for a sledding hill and we haven't found enough snow to build a snowman. Last year the temperature hovered around -20 degrees for several days. This year the temperature is up around 50. That's a 70-degree difference! In all our years coming here, we've never experienced such a dramatic fluctuation of temperature from one visit to the next. I don't know what this says about climate change, but it sure makes it hard to pack. It's still beautiful here, and we've been able to take hikes on mountain trails we would normally not have access to in winter. The shape and texture of the bare trees are visible like never before, and rocks jut up through the thin snow creating interesting patterns on the hillsides. At least I can use my camera—last year it was so cold the lens froze!