An Appreciation of Snow

The title of this post is vaguely misleading. I am not, as you might assume, hopping up and down with excitement at the ridiculous amount of snow that’s been falling on us over the past two days. I am, rather, finally appreciating it for more than its uses as sculpting and sneak attack material. I am appreciating it as quite the frightening element.

The back yard, a few hours in.

Three days ago, we had almost no snow. The paths were clear, the roads were easy to drive and the sun was shining. Two days ago, the sky turned white and began to empty itself. It still hasn’t stopped – Hubby goes out to shovel the paths every so often, and they’ve disappeared again within the hour. I waded to the car through knee-deep snowdrifts, and that was in the shovelled zones.

Unlike in England, where the authorities gasp in horror at an inch of snow and shut the country down as standard overreaction, the people around me here seem unflustered and carry on regardless. Some are even so well-versed in Wyoming weather that they can tell me precisely how many storms will come before the thaw, and I have learned not to scoff at their predictions.

Hubby prepares to snowblow. And by "prepares", I mean "plays in the snow".

The night the snow began to fall, the lights went out, for miles around. There was neither ambient light nor moon and stars – the world went utterly black. I lay in bed next to a perfectly calm Hubby, for whom it was nothing more than “a bit of winter” and waited for my eyes to pick out shapes… they never did.

As I lay there, I thought about our predicament. We live half a mile from the nearest neighbour (unless you count the parents-in-law, of course, but, for purposes of this discussion, we shall not) and a couple of miles from town. Our house, without electricity, had become little more than a shell, without heating, light or means of communication. The snow was slowly building up against the door, and had already topped the deck. Our little home suddenly seemed a lot more flimsy, and the elements much more ominous.

In this part of the world, one takes extra layers of clothing with one, as well as scarves, socks and hats, and a zero-degree sleeping bag if possible, whenever one leaves the house. If the weather changes suddenly or the slippy slidey roads claim your vehicle, it’s entirely possible you’ll be waiting hours or days for rescue, if the blizzard is ongoing. This shit means business.

"I'll just have a bit of a sit down first."

I use the word “appreciation” rather than “fear”, though, because it’s hard to be too scared when you’re surrounded by capable people who know exactly what to do. I’m never allowed out without appropriate clothing, I’m not allowed to wander about in snowdrifts, no matter how inconvenient I suspect it is to be ferrying me about everywhere, there are always torches available for blackouts and the snowploughs are out in force within minutes of the end of a storm.

Less afraid, more aware of my lack of experience with snow that’s four feet deep. Mostly, I now appreciate that I need to learn to be as capable.

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