Just over a week ago two women we knew were killed in a car accident. Like all accidents it was a waste of human life. In this case the women happened to be experts in their fields of nursing, teachers, mentors, friends, sisters, a mother, on and on. As I said, it was a huge waste of all the things they brought to this world.
I knew both of them, but not well. I think that was my great loss. I am reminded of the old joke about the farmer using the 2 by 4 to get the mule’s attention. These deaths got my attention. They were an all too vivid reminder of my own mortality and that our days are few. They reminded me that most of the squabbles and disagreements we have are petty. That we should be about mending fences and finding points of agreement, not allowing differences to come between us. To say words of encouragement, to tell our loved ones and friends that we value and love them. To not let the sun set on an argument.
I know these sentiments are trite. I know I will forget what I am feeling now. I hope that it won’t take such a horrific event to get my attention when I do.
Tomorrow at 5:07 AM, I’ll rouse G. who said she wanted to greet the solstice by going outside and dancing naked in the snow. She won’t rouse. She’ll just roll over and stay in the warm bed. So, the solstice may go ungreeted, but it won’t arrive unnoticed. The temperature is supposed to be below zero in the morning. The wind is going to drop wind chills to -30 or -40 or -50. It may snow. Winter, which has been here for weeks, will officially arrive. The cold and snow will be around for four or five more months. The only difference is that as days lenghten, we’ll be able to see the weather longer each day.
During the long Wyoming winters rather than sit inside and glower out the window, it’s helpful to find things you like about the season. One of the things we noticed when we moved here from Kansas, where winter is generally cursed and looked upon as something to endure, is that many people look forward to winter. Hunters are eager for snow in hunting season. Snow makes game easier to track. Skiers and boarders of all persuasions can hardly wait for there to be enough snow to get out and play. There are many snow mobiles sold in this area to those who shun using their own power to get out in the mountain snow.
I found there are lots of things I like about winter. I like to snow shoe and cross country ski. Winter sunrises last longer and seem more colorful than those of the other seasons. Sitting in the hot tub while flakes drift down and melt on your face and shoulders is delightful. The fluff we get here is so beautiful when freshly fallen. When there is a full moon and the ground is covered with snow, the light’s almost enough to read outside in the middle of the night. But, one of my favorite things is the sound of snow crunching beneath my boots when it is really cold. I’d noticed the crunching for years, but never thought about just how cold it needed to be to make the right conditions for crunching. It turns out that the temperature has to be 14 degrees or less. The snow should be very crunchy all weekend.
On Wednesday it started to snow. It snowed on and off all day. The fluff mounted up on every flat surface. The wind didn’t blow. Temperatures were the lowest of the season. Perfection. The snow gods had smiled and answered the skiers’ prayers with the first “Yes” of the season. Friday the winds picked up. The Interstate was closed, then open, then closed, then open. Temperatures shot up into the 40’s.
By Saturday the sun had come out. It warmed into the upper 40’s and the snow in the valley was 80% gone by sundown.
A report from Happy Jack indicated that there was still good snow up there. The forecast is for warm weather today and snow tomorrow. Maybe it will survive.