Roger Marolt: A holiday present delivered in the nick of time
This year, winter literally happened overnight
Last week’s storm was a spectacular event. It was an explosion of snow with an impressive wind accompanying it. Don’t forget the plunging temperatures shortly after it blew itself out with one last cough of snow late Friday afternoon. The thermometer went from 25 to zero in less time than it takes to notice numb toes. But all that stuff isn’t all that uncommon in these parts. Storms like this don’t happen as often as we might like, but we usually get three or four every winter.
What was unprecedented, at least in my recollection of more local changes of the seasons than I can keep track of, is how fast we went from fall to winter. It took all of 12 hours! I recall this happening over a few days on rare occasions. I’ve also seen the more common scenario where there is a slow and steady growth of snow accumulating over dormant grass, creating winter in a period running from about Halloween until Thanksgiving, but this year it literally happened overnight.
I took the dog out before bed around 10 p.m. Thursday. It had just started sprinkling a slushy type of snow from the damp, warmish clouds strafing the valley. They say the Eskimos have dozens of words for “snow” and I would like to know what they call this wet, sticky kind that falls in softish pellets, but until I learn it, I will continue to call it “bleck.” We strolled across the brown grass and Wes peed on a dry tree trunk. I fell asleep assuming the storm was going to miss us, as they so often seem to do when our expectations for a powder day are raised by a forecast of new snow measured in feet.
When I woke up early the next morning, I thought I was seeing things through the bamboo-slatted blinds in the bedroom. I would later realize that I was seeing nothing because snow, blown hard and sticking fast, had turned the glass opaque. My impression in the dark was that it was only an abnormally severe pre-caffeine fog I was experiencing. Things were set right when I took Wesley out again for his morning ritual and found in my yard a frozen set of wondrous, white frozen waves wanting to crash onto the shore that is my driveway. I stepped off the porch and did not hit the gravel deep below the surface. My slippers filled with powder and, as my ankles drowned in the icy depths, I struggled to catch my breath.
I had forgotten the comforting clatter and rumble of the snowplow scraping through the cul-de-sac, one of the few sounds that can penetrate the muffled peace of a heavy snow morning. It called for a toast with a third cup of coffee when normally two will do. I needed the chemical inspiration to take on the driveway, which I shovel the old-fashioned way as part of my winter training routine.
My fitness watch has taught me that a normal digging out of my house burns about half an hour and 250 calories. This one ended up costing quadruple that time, more than 700 calories, and a stint lying flat on the living room floor with my knees raised and bent over a footstool for relief of lower back strain. I shed as much fat as I would on a long summertime mountain bike ride, with half the pleasant memories. And still, there is something pleasant in that type of frosty manual labor, now and then. I will be sure to toast this storm with an extra glass of eggnog sometime in this holiday season and maybe even wash down another square of Christmas fudge with it.
At the end of the day, we had snowbanks along the street and a huge pile of snow for kids to play on in the cul-de-sac. Roads were iced over. Trees bowed in homage to the extraordinary display of nature’s power, which they know well. Icicles hung from the eves and enhanced the effect of holiday lights that had been hanging there for weeks in expectation of such an opportunity to reflect. Ski racks on passing cars actually carried skis! All was right in Winter Wonderland. I was inspired to roust my family and traipse into the woods in search of the greatest Christmas tree ever.
All there is to do now is be sure and recall this day in the middle of February and hope that spring might come upon us just as quickly in April.
Roger Marolt is suddenly in the holiday spirit and his ski legs are coming back. Email him at email@example.com.