Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Flaky Weather

- At first they were thumbnail sized feathers. You could count ten-miss'ippi from the time you saw them 'til they lighted. The trees were already laced with hoar-frost, so the flakes clung as if they were magnetized. So lacey and light the shovel wouldn't hold them. Should'a used the leaf blower. Overnight things got a bit more weighty. The shovel works now. The operator, however, is not so ambitious because the sky is still falling. I'm waiting for the right moment.
- The Christmas bear on the lawn has no legs and wears a white gnome hat. He's like one of those ads with a splotch of color in a black and white background, all the life in the picture blanketed or dulled by winter dim. "Another week and things will start lightening," we glibly tell ourselves, knowing full well that winter is just begun.
- Next week they predict we'll settle into negative numbers on the thermometer. "They" predict. I want that job. An Alaskan meteorologist is not held to any standard of accuracy. No expectations. Smile at the poor suffering populace from your warm studio and share your best wild ass guess. Don't keep records. Don't look back.
- The weather is unpredictable, so Alaskans wager. The Nenana ice classic puts a tripod on the river ice, and folks wager on the spring breakup. I know someone who missed the gist, and bought five tickets, then recorded the same time and date on all five. I told her she'd better hope not to win, for she'd be famous as a lucky idiot. She corrected me. She'd be a RICH famous lucky idiot, and would happily claim her five shares of the prize.
- The fluffy snow is taller than the rat terrier now. It's grand comedy to watch her poof her way to the shelter of the spruce tree for her morning business. Some day soon she'll brush a branch and get dumped on. Hope I see it.
No. Vik is sure to clear a path off the other side of the deck so the poor hairless mutt will have a place to go; when it stops snowing; IF it stops snowing. Meanwhile the dog sleeps all day in front of the wood stove... and tries to hold her water.
- The cat is well prepared for the outdoors. He's longhaired and white, with an excellent insulating layer of chubbiness. But his idea of winter adventure is demanding to be let out, then wandering to the edge of the deck to watch the occasional vole dart about under the bird feeder. After a minute or so of "hunting", he lazes back to the door and complains to be let back in. If I can't be a weatherman, I want the cat's job.
- Late in arriving this year; this is sure to be the storm that makes the pavement disappear. We'll drive on ice until April. One would think folks here would be expert winter drivers. One would think. Last year in January, there was a fluke rain over the ice. Eighteen cars were off the road in the sixteen miles between my house and the city. Over a hundred accidents in the metro area. Seems lots of folks have to learn every year to slow down, and that fancy SUVs still don't stop on glare ice.
- If you let it, the cold and gloom can overwhelm. If you let it, the serene beauty of Alaska in winter can overwhelm you, too. Right now the snow is fresh, and soft, and pure. The forest is frosted, the field is a quiet, untracked blanket. Snow has it's own smell, and faint wood smoke also hangs lightly in the air. You can hear the little sounds, like the chittering tiny birds, or the skier on the trail in the distance. Ravens return calls across the valley, and somewhere a steep roof whumps off its load. At night the city lights will bounce off the undersides of the clouds, creating a "snow-glow" in the distance. The mountains will reveal themselves after the storm, and the light will play off contours that only show themselves in winter. Ansel would be scrambling to capture the patterns of dark and light on film. I am content to sit here and describe them to you.
- My good neighbor ruins the silence with the little snowblower he loves to use. His dogs are supervising from the window. His wife will light the night with her holiday decorations, which she won't remove until March, when she'll start lighting the neighborhood in a different way with brilliant floral displays in her container garden.
- Now, though, the snow is getting heavier. The afternoon is waning. The fire needs stoking and dinner needs considering. The driveway will still be there, somewhere under there, in the morning.
UPDATE! - I used my own snowblower last night. Then we got another foot. The Christmas bear is gone. (buried) Valdez has blizzard warnings and six feet on the ground, so I won't complain. (much) Happy Holidays!

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