When Will It Happen?

We couldn’t stop talking about it.

We looked through frost-free windows at visible ground, walked ice-less sidewalks, drove cars without brushing away snow, and talked about the unseemliness of these actions.

When we met, we exchanged words like unseasonal, unbelievable, eerie, and bizarre.

We questioned long-time residents: “When was the last time you saw fall fade into winter with so little snow?”

Their answers lacked consensus.

Each morning, when I raised the blinds and looked out at a scene more typical of March, I gaped in disbelief: a baby surprised by every peek-a-boo. Confused plants didn’t know whether to die or live, the grass looked over-exposed, and dormant shrubs seemed stark without a layer of snow to soften them.

Around town, lonely roof rakes leaned at the ready below unburdened eaves, and children without jackets wandered at will on bicycles usually stored in a garage by now. At the hardware store, new snow blowers wearing red coats of paint looked embarrassed, as though shamed by their lack of customer appeal.

Joel and I compared this year’s weather with four years ago when our children and grandchildren visited. They skied, skated, fanned arms and legs for snow angels, leaped out of the hot tub to roll in snowdrifts, and flew down hills on anything that would slide.

They built two snowmen: a sophisticated fellow with expressive features from the older crowd and a startling, headless version from the little ones who managed to drop six heads trying to lift them into place.

This year, had they visited, we’d have worn out all the board games first and then one another’s patience.

As we moved toward Thanksgiving, I thought about our lack of snow; and a flood of questions popped into my head:

When will it happen? How long will it last? How deep will it be?

Will we remember how to behave when our world turns white?

Will enough snowpack accumulate to meet our needs? Will the Yampa River flow enlivened and refreshed next spring or move cautiously to hoard its sparse lifeblood?

Then it happened. On Thanksgiving morning we looked out at a white carpet spread over yards, streets, and houses. By Christmas, plowed ridges of snow lined streets and blocked sidewalks; parking lots held heaps of scraped snow shaped by snowplows. Vehicles crept cautiously on snow-packed streets, and hungry deer foraged for inaccessible food.

buck in snow

A common sight during Craig’s long winters

And — when not complaining about freezing temperatures or unavoidable fender-benders — we gave thanks for the abundant snow now gracing our mountains.

Yampa in winter

A partially frozen Yampa after our first snow

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68 thoughts on “When Will It Happen?

      • We got snow — about 10 inches — last week. It doesn’t usually snow much here as we’re between two mountain ranges so two rain shadows, but it’s usually colder here than other parts of the state. When Colorado Springs was having 50 degrees we were having -10. 🙂 I was, of course, stuck in my driveway for a few days because the city doesn’t plow alleys. Ultimately, just like last year, I had to shovel my alley from my driveway to the street — but that’s a distance no longer than some people’s driveways. We may not get another big snow — but who knows? And this one will not melt until May…

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      • I share your pain, Martha; in Craig, not only are the alley’s not plowed, but when you finally get your driveway shoveled clear, the city pos race down the street and fill the driveways up again. Fortunately, I have a husband armed with a snowblower now. The years between my divorce and remarriage saw me outside, before work, wielding a shovel.

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      • I think about getting at least a motorized shovel since I don’t think I’m ever moving out of this house with its driveway. The snow plows this storm not only redumped snow on my sidewalk (and the entry to the alley) but broke my mailbox. I think the city should pay to have it re-welded. Meanwhile, it’s stuck in the snow and is only about 18 inches high.

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      • One of the things I like best about my house in Craig is that it is in an old section of town where they still deliver mail to boxes hung by the front door, or, in our case, a mail slot in the door. So we don’t have to worry about juvenile-delinquent snowplows vandalizing our mailbox as they do starting two blocks over.

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  1. I loved the cautious river. It was scary for a while. We haven’t had much on the flats, but the mountains are getting some good snow. And that’s what counts. The trout will have a good flow, the fishing will be good, and people will go back to wasting water for another year. I can’t wait for spring so I can get up there and watch the mountains turn green. Another great piece, Janet. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Rob. The last couple of winters have been scary here, but not this one. Coming from Carson City, Nevada, where water restrictions are strictly enforced, I am taken aback by the thoughtless waste of it where I now live.

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      • I hear ya. I don’t have to tell you how utards exploit this country. They’ll happily grow 3 cuts of hay and let it rot in the stack. They’ll run their herds on overgrazed mountains, herds that are hobbies and tax write-offs for wannabe ranchers, politicians, and lawyers. They’ll run their sprinklers night and day because it’s their turn and they want to get their fair share. Don’t get me started. 🙂

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  2. Love your “first” snow photograph, what a wonderland. Wonderful writing, loved the line about the snowblowers embarrassed at the hardware store. Weather most everywhere is a little “off”. Our December was filled with 28 out of 31 with rain and the rain is still falling! Enjoy the snow and the deer.

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  3. Pingback: When Will It Happen? | carlscindiemagazine

  4. I’m glad to learn that at least one section of the USA has gotten decent snowfalls. Not a flake has fallen in my suburban Philadelphia area.
    One other note: “This year, had they visited, we’d have worn out all the board games first and then one another’s patience.” — I love that sentence.

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    • Thank you, Neil. Now and then I write a sentence (or revise one) and think, “Wow, that’s pretty good.” That sentence was one of them; I’m glad you noticed it. And I hope you get snow — but not too much.

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  5. Love the writing! We have confusing weather here, too. It’s South Texas, so no snow, but it’s been really cold. Then we had this warm snap last week and June bugs were crawling all over my garden. Now here comes the cold again. Hope the Junies have a good place to hide.

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  6. We are having typical Texas winter weather – 65 degrees one day, a quick freeze overnight, low 40’s for highs the next few days, then back to the sixties. Luckily we have had no precipitation with the freezing weather. Our’s comes as ice, not snow. Driving is impossible for several days. But Spring is just around the corner!
    Beautiful photos.

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    • I think I prefer snow to ice, Troy, though as cold as it’s been here, the least bit of snow that melts quickly turns to ice. And I don’t know if you are an optimist or dealing in sarcasm when you assure me spring is just around the corner.

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  7. That is just beautiful! I love snow, although we rarely get it in my town and when we do it usually just an hour or two of flurries. It’s always exciting when we do get a rare dumping that coats the ground in a few inches though, the city just about shuts down as we are not used to it!

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  8. Odd indeed, how snowy our childhoods were, the frozen pond and puddles, no more here, usually a bit of wet gob, and black ice. The deep cold can be scary, better to write about from a warm home- lovely post thanks Janet.

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  9. Hi Janet,

    Here in Price we shared the same fears you expressed so well at the beginning of this post. When will winter, and significant snowfall, arrive?
    And then it happened here too. Our first snowfall came on Christmas Eve and we’ve had minor storms every four or five days since then. We’re enjoying it, and our dog Annie is loving it!

    I loved the line about snowblowers looking embarrassed—for the past few winters they’ve had good reason to be ashamed!

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  10. I think it’s like a fairytale come true when it snows on Christmas Eve. Isn’t it fun the way dogs love snow? My lab used to think life wasn’t worth living unless he was in the water or had a mound ofsnow on his nose! Thanks for liking my snowblower line, Rita. I rather liked it myself.

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  11. I loved the way you brought us from the bare, barren sidewalks with kids riding bicycles to the snow-lined streets and blocked sidewalks…How I long for the quiet of a snowy night as the snow gently piles onto the sidewalks and roadways and I curl up under my blankets, knowing that I have “no appointments and no demands on me” to get up and shovel. (Have family flying in from Utah to go up to the Sierras for some snow shoeing and the weather is supposed to be 70 degrees here on Wednesday….my visions of a “walk in the snow” are slowly fading with each weather report…oh well, it is what it is…)

    Beautiful piece, Janet…I, like, Rita, love your reference to the “embarrassed snow blower”…. 🙂

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    • I’ve had a few walks in the snow in Craig, Lucie, but the frigid temperatures we’ve experienced dampen the pleasure, even when I’m dressed in layers of my warmest gear. Still, the fun of tramping around in snowshoes usually wins out. We haven’t cross country skied much because the powder is so deep it’s hard to cut a trail.

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      • You’ve got frigid weather and we’re headed for warmer temps…Yuck! (for both of us!) I don’t like “frigid”, but I’m not exactly a lover of “warm weather”, either. I “think better” when it’s cooler!!! (Don’t ask! It’s just me!) :)p

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  12. Hi Aunt Beulah,
    Annie from Australia here
    I have decided to revisit your beautiful blogsite, I want to call it something more elegant. My hubby is watching the footy on TV and I am looking for some great reading, so I have headed straight to visit Aunt Beulah. I came across this story and Oh My!!!
    You really do live in a winter wonderland!! I am so glad the snow came, I was beginning to feel like the snow rake, desperately wanting it to snow so I get to spend plenty of time in it. What an amazing time it would be skiing along the river, or stomping in thick snow in your snowshoes, let’s frolic and play, the eskimo way, Walking in a Winter Wonderland. I love this Christmas song, look at those beautiful trees (they look like a type of pine tree)dressed in snow, all dressed up with nowhere to go. I love this story, I was in suspense, I knew it was going to snow, it just had to, just for me. So beautiful in your Winter Wonderland Aunt Beulah
    Hugs from Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed this particular post, Annie. It is one of my favorites. I’m also happy to get a comment from someone who understands the joy the snow brings to me. I love looking at it from my snug house, walking on sidewalks in our neighborhood while it’s falling, skiing and snowshoeing in the drifts it leaves behind, and listening to the silenced world it creates. And, yes, I’ll admit, I’m glad my husband removes it. I liked your funny comment that you were feeling like the snow rake, and your mention of the Christmas song Winter Wonderland — one of my favorites as well. A spring snow is falling as I write this. I think I’ll go for a walk in it and take you with me!

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      • I just can’t wait to go for a walk in the snow with you Aunt Beulah, I suspect we would walk and talk away the hours.
        I live in sunshine and humidity almost all year round, I would welcome the opportunity to wear layers of warm wooly, clothes and a snow jacket, beanie, gloves and snowshoes, feel the cold on my face, it sounds like nothing I have ever experienced in my life, just cant begin to imagine how it would feel for real. I feel excited and my fingers won’t type as fast as my mind is racing, because you make me feel like I am actually there …let’s go walking Aunt Beulah
        Hugs from Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

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  13. I do think you would enjoy the snow, Annie, though in Craig it hangs around from October to May. We’ve even had light showers in July. Have you looked at my blog’s about me page? It has one of my favorite pictures of my husband and me after he’s just stepped into a hole of soft snow while we were snowshoeing.

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