Winter’s true finish is anyone’s guess—precisely the point of the annual contest on Joe’s Pond in West Danville, Vermont. This year, I’m betting it’s April 2 at 11:27 a.m. This guess cost me a buck. So if I’m correct and if the “ice-out” contraption—a pallet, a cinder block, and a flag tethered by 250 feet of nylon rope to a power source for the clock on land—if that wacky raft hunkered on the frozen pond should slump during the thaw of a warm March and begin to sink beneath the pond’s waters around breakfast on April 2, and its descent strains the rope such that it finally breaks the electrical connection, stopping the clock at precisely 11:27 a.m., as the raft submerges into the newly liquefied pond, then I stand to collect half the betting cash. What’s more, come July, no matter who won, everybody in the vicinity of Joe’s Pond gets a prize: On the evening of Independence Day, the sky will fill with sparkles and crackles and scintillating falling stars. This fireworks display is funded with the remaining money from those hunches, those best guesses when our winter went out not with a bang, but with a gurgle.