From Plum Island, we took a brief diversion northward, crossing the Newbuyrport Turnpike Bridge to find Salisbury. The town is as New Hampshire as Massachusetts gets. It simply feels like crossing the Merrimack River you've crossed state lines, but it isn't so. For some reason, boundaries were set to give Massachusetts just a few more miles to the north when it would seem the natural line of the river should have been used all the way to the sea.
The state reservation in Salisbury is now quiet, but dozens of snow-covered picnic tables just dare you to say that in six months' time. I couldn't hear the music playing or the children laughing, but I could feel their echoes as we walked toward the boat ramp.
From that boat ramp we spotted a bald eagle sitting in the saltmarsh. We knew it was there even before we left Newburyport. I had seen a cloud of ducks - that's a technical term for "wicked lots of ducks" in Massachusetts speak - lift off together. To my experience, that means a predator is around, and nothing makes a duck, or a gull, jump like a bald eagle.
It was surprising, today, to see how many people were at the reservation, dodging the huge piles of snow and driving over the thick, intermittent ice. Perhaps the allure of a 50-degree day had coaxed them out. Some sat in cars reading newspapers and smoking cigarettes, while others walked dogs on the beach. I think we're all ready to break out of this slumber we've been forced into.