BOSTON (AP) — The snowbanks are shrinking, and hope — like birdsong — is in the air.
As spring arrives and New Englanders exit a relentless winter many thought would never end, The Associated Press asked the Boston Yeti and a few other hardy souls what 9 feet of snow taught them about life, love and human nature.
Here are their reflections:
Denise Maccaferri captures splendor for a living. From her home on the waterfront in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the photographer had a unique view of each snowstorm.
While most others were grumbling, Maccaferri was snapping.
Through the winter, she used social media to share "the beauty of it, the calmness of it." One image showed a fresh dusting that gilded a pair of lampposts; others caught a crimson sunrise over the frozen harbor and a lone lobster boat encrusted in ice.
"No two storms, no two aftermaths, are the same," she said. "If you can't beat it, photograph it."
Nothing warms a shepherd like a flock. But when winter comes howling like a wolf, the sheep usually scatter.
So the Rev. Warren Hicks, an Episcopal minister in Worcester, Massachusetts, was inspired to see his congregants — who include the homeless — repeatedly braving the elements to gather together.
"The remarkable resilience of folks to continue to come out in the snow and worship was really extraordinary for me," he said.
Even when the wind chill hit 30 below zero, volunteers turned out to feed and clothe the needy.
"Compassion is even more necessary when people face challenges like these," he said. "It was a great lesson in humility."
As the first snowflakes fell, love was in the air.
Damian McCartney was about to propose to Melissa Greczkowski, a fellow volunteer firefighter. He enlisted others at the Shaker Pines firehouse in Enfield, Connecticut, to stage an elaborate training drill. It was supposed to end with his girlfriend finding him posing as an unresponsive firefighter, engagement ring in hand.
But the first of 2015's blizzards struck, so the firefighters staged an alternative indoor exercise: Greczkowski, eyes covered, had to feel her way along a hose. At the end was McCartney.
When she thinks back to this winter, Greczkowski said, the misery of all the storms will be far from her mind.
"I think it makes for a really good story," she said.
He — or she? — roamed the city in an abominable snowman costume, providing laughs where there were otherwise only groans.
The Boston Yeti refuses to reveal its true identity, but the mysterious creature is still providing Bostonians with much-needed comic relief. In an email exchange with the AP this week, the Yeti joked that one of the reasons it loves Beantown is because "beans are vegan."
"When Mother Nature gave us snow, we made snow cones," it said.
After Boston set a new all-time snowfall record Sunday evening, Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted that he was temporarily ceding control to the Yeti.
"This record-breaking winter has taught me that even in some of the toughest circumstances, people are good and kind," the Yeti said.
It takes a village to pull off a big dig. That's what Ari Goldberger learned when a giant snow pile blocked the bike path he and other cyclists use daily in Medford, north of Boston.
Goldberger, a musician and guitar repair technician, conspired with a friend to assemble a team to tunnel through the 12-foot pile. They created a Facebook event page with a call to arms — or, more precisely, shovels.
"We saw an opportunity to do something cool and fun and a little bit crazy," said Goldberger, 30.
Only eight people turned out to complete the 40-foot tunnel, but hordes more attended a celebratory "tunnel party."
"A whole bunch of people came out from across the cycling community," he said. "People really pulled together."
Associated Press writer Michael Melia in Connecticut contributed to this story.