22 February 2007

Snowstorm out my window

All of you who’ve had to dig out of several feet of snow and live with driving on icy roads in other parts of the country for the last several weeks will greet this new post with a collective groan of disgust, but guess what?

It’s finally snowing here! Wooohoooo!

OK, at the moment it’s snowing and raining at the same time, a “wintery mix,” according to my Yahoo weather page. But after the driest January recorded since 1880, when they first started keeping records, and a February that has been barely wetter, this is very good news.

It’s been so dry around here than when I pick up my old cat, Mr. PIB, we strike a spark of static electricity, which startles us both.

A little later: Now, it’s snowing. No “wintery mix,” this is the real thing. The snow is falling and falling, turning the world outside into a study in black and white.

I found Mr. Wren playing on his computer at the other end of the house and told him, “It’s snowing!” I know, this must be truly annoying. It’s not even 8 a.m. and I’m happy as a kid, going from window to window, looking at the various views. They all look different, magical somehow, in the snow.

“F**king snow,” he grumped, but grinned.

“Well, you’re not going anywhere,” I observed.

“No, but if I wanted to go somewhere, I couldn’t. Because of the f**king snow!”

Both of our cars are parked under the carport at the bottom of our steep driveway. Unless I’m up for shoveling, we’re housebound for the duration. But I was thinking ahead – or rather, hoping ahead. I did all my errands yesterday. And I brought enough wood inside for the stove to last a couple of days. There’s plenty more wood outside, too, a good excuse for some snowplay with the dog, who loves catching snowballs. He leaps into the air and snaps his jaws closed on them, spraying snow from the sides of his mouth. He can do this for hours, given the opportunity.

While I was out yesterday, I stopped by the local hardware store. When I went to have my purchases tallied, the owner and the clerk at the register were both exclaiming over the satellite picture on the little TV they have behind the counter.

“Yep, it’s coming,” the owner said, grinning. “We’ll have some snow by tomorrow morning.”

We all talked for a few minutes about how dry and unseasonably warm it's been – only a few brief rain showers in the last two months, and no snow at all. We were all looking forward to this storm.

Then he said, wryly, “Of course it’s going to snow. Tomorrow’s delivery day!”

The Wren’s nest is at about 3,200 feet, right at the snowline in the Sierras. We get some snow each winter, but usually not a lot – a few inches here and there that melt within a couple of days. Occasionally, we get more – since I started this post, about an inch has built up on the branches of the sour gum tree outside my window – and the snow is still falling. Maybe this will be one of the big ones – finally – and we’ll have a foot. Dare I hope for more?

I grew up in the valley, where there was never any snow. It was something that happened in other places, not where I lived. While I can remember a few times when I went “up to the snow” with my relatives, they were the only times that I got to build snowmen or toss snowballs. I was entranced.

Much, much later, as an adult, I learned to ski, taking classes in the Austrian alps north of Graz. I’m not a good skier – I’m ridiculously afraid of heights – but I loved every terrifying minute of those ski trips. My favorite part (go ahead, laugh) was sitting at the little chalets high up on the mountainside, resting, warming up and taking courage in the form of Jaegertee. And gazing, with awe and reverence, at the stunning, craggy, snowy mountains all around me.

This must be the Finn in me coming out. I also learned to cross-country ski in the Harz Mountains while I was in Germany, and I loved that even more, in some ways. The mountains were much lower and gentler. I skied along level surfaces and the experience of sliding along on those long, thin skis in the crystal clear, cold air, the snow hushing a white world at once beautiful and forbidding, was one I’ll never forget.

Let it snow. Oh, let it snow.

1 comment:

Madison Guy said...

Your dog catches snowballs, we've got foxes mousediving. Whee -- winter! Fox barriers, for red foxes and faux FOX alike. Mother Nature puts obstacles in the way of the red fox, so why can't we put up a faux FOX barrier, as well? We can.