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Unearthed by thaw, an eclectic mix of left-behind items emerges

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WATERTOWN — Stray garments of clothing. Snow shovels. Coffee tins and juice containers that escaped the recycling bin. Shoes. Lots of shoes.

And a gun.

As this year’s longer-than-long winter finally gives way to spring — the massive piles of white slowly decaying and the concrete now slowly emerging — an assortment of items lost when the snow started piling up is finally making an appearance on the pothole-ridden driveways and sidewalks in the city.

So as the snow melts, things are found. Perhaps the most jarring discovery was one made by Shari L. Simmons, who lives on Route 12 in Copenhagen about a mile outside the village. In the early spring, she and her husband found a pistol lying on the edge of the road.

“When you first look at it, it’s kind of like, ‘Why is this there?’ like ‘Is that a toy gun?’” she said.

A state trooper who lives across the road picked up the pistol and traced it back by serial number to a man in Denmark, nearly 10 miles away, who owned it legally, she said. He had lost the gun after it fell off the bumper of his pickup months before, pre-freeze, she said.

Ms. Simmons couldn’t recall the gun’s model, but said it “was a really nice pistol,” and was heavily damaged by the snow.

“After he lost it, he went up and down the road and never found it,” she said. “He never would have thought it would have been that far. Whether it fell there or a plow pushed it, we don’t know.”

Such was the mystery that she even wondered if a mass murderer had thrown it while on the run from a crime.

A total of 201.55 inches of snow has fallen to date in the city, according to the Water Filtration Plant, more than double what fell last year. After a mixed bag of weather over the weekend, this week’s forecast calls for highs mainly in the mid-40s to mid-50s.

In that mess, a lucky cellphone owner discovered his device has incomprehensibly survived the freeze.

Garret C. Yost, who lives on Sherman Street, dropped his phone in his snow-covered driveway during a blizzard in January, and, nearly two weeks later, found it again when shoveling had made some headway in the mounds of snow. It still worked, possibly, he hypothesizes, because the battery died before water seeped in to ruin it.

“I thought it might be, but it also could have been in the house,” he said when asked if he’d launched a full-scale assault on the driveway to find it. “It was nice when it came up.”

Nearby on Sherman Street, battling a late-winter storm that left nearly 8 inches of heavy, wet snow in places of the city last weekend, Daniel T. Kelly said he hasn’t found anything particularly notable, just “some windblown stuff” and garbage.

“I find that occurs with the garden, but not while shoveling snow,” he said of unearthing the rare and treasured item.

With a day of blue skies on Sunday, the city was filled with the sounds of chain saws and rakes making steady work of the piles of brush and tree debris that seem to line nearly every corner and sidewalk, much of it remnants of the late December ice storm.

At a corner property of William and Academy streets, Donald K. Keruskie was raking sticks and other debris from a remarkably snow-free yard, while his soon-to-be stepchildren romped nearby. His post-thaw find was of the semi-animate sort — the last remnants of a snowman: the carrot.

“I said to them, ‘I just found your snowman,’” he said, laughing.

“I found a necklace,” Jacob J. Nims, 6, chimed in. The necklace, inscribed with “I love to teach,” turned out to be his mother’s, Mr. Keruskie said.

Eliza B. Reidy, 9, said she’d found a sparkling rock when the snow melted near their garage; then, as the two children scratched their heads in contemplation of other treasures unearthed, she added of Jacob, “All he finds are insects in the garbage.”

The three also found a blue snowball maker, which molds snow in two round claws for particularly virulent snowball wars.

“We couldn’t find it,” Eliza said. “We were wondering where it was.”

Nearby on Brainard Street, Tina M. Monica, who was taking advantage of the higher temperatures Sunday to paint a table outdoors, said she’s mostly found children’s toys. A colorful water gun lay nearby in a stubborn, decaying snowbank next to the driveway.

“I love seeing the grass,” she said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

The thaw hasn’t brought positive discoveries for everyone, though.

Anne M. Street, who was walking her dog Sunday near Flower Avenue East, said she’s mostly encountered potholes as the snow has retreated.

“They’re terrible,” she said.

Other than that, she’s mostly found lots of dog poop and Pennysavers.

Other than that, though, their snow uncovering is routine, as banal as a life of winters in the north country.

“We find all the regular garbage that people throw out — papers, candies, cigarettes,” Mrs. Simmons said.

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