Monday, November 23, 2015

Change is Afoot

Red Tail Hawk on the Sentinel Tree 

The last week of November begins. It brings with it the Full Beaver Moon. I am not sure why the Indians of the Southwest named it that, but for me it seems it may be the last month when beavers can be seen before they go to ground below the ice in their dens. November is the 'tween month. Between Indian Summer and winter. It is the month where we do not take snow seriously because warm days which follow will no doubt melt it. Ski areas are seriously blowing snow to be ready for a ski season which used to begin now.

It is the month were ice appears on the ponds and lakes but it also disappears on the ponds and lakes almost as fast. It is the month of preparation for winter, whether you a beaver stashing twigs under the water, or a bear putting on hibernation fat, or a human stocking up on firewood and pantry essentials.

The snow does not get serious until middle of December. It is then you best have a plowman lined up for the driveway and enough food in the freezer and pantry to last a few days if you cannot get out of the valley. Actually that only happened once in my twenty years of living here: 2006. Four days the passes were closed and we were sealed in with tourists from Christmas who had no idea how to survive.

I have begun checking my weather app again. Snow is coming on Wednesday night. Chances are it won't be serious but it could be. It is a Super El Nino year. Admittedly the weathermen have absolutely no idea what a super El Nino year will mean. Other ordinary El Nino years have not meant that much snow for where I live. The storms seem to divide and we are between the dumps in Colorado and the part of the storm which goes south. But 2006 and six feet of snow in less than three days taught me to be prepared. The weeks of blowing around that same six feet were not fun either. January usually brings a thaw but not that year.

That was the worst of winters. Even for ski areas because the tourists were sure they could not get here and if they did it would be too cold. Somehow they seem to forget we, unlike Dallas, have snowplows.

So while I haven't a clue what winter will bring there is a feeling in the air that things will change. Winter will at last announce its arrival. The ponds will be serious about icing up. And the question about winter boots or snowshoes will be moot. In fact one pair of snowshoes will go into the GMC 4 wheel drive in case I have to walk in or our of someplace. And I will become much more aware of where I left my cellphone so I can be sure it goes with me.

But we are not Alaska or even Aspen, Colorado. There will be days in the middle of what passes for winter here when I will go out with just a polar fleece to get the firewood for the night. It is THE ten days in December I dread. There are always ten days when the temperature really falls and sometimes the sun will not shine for that period of time. I loathe those ten days. They are what winter was in Colorado when I lived there. It is why I do not live in Colorado. But ski areas in New Mexico love those ten days, because if they work it right they can blow enough snow to last them till March.

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