"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

08 January 2010

Deep Winter

Last year, it seemed as though winter barely counted. Sure, there it got rather cold around the holidays, but that evened out after a week or two. Shortly after the Gregorian perception of the new year, we enjoyed something of a false spring. The real blizzards didn't hit until spring, and one of those closed the Road, leaving an eerie silence, even moreso than that usually caused by the snow.

This year, the first snow fell shortly before the autumnal equinox. The first blizzard, just days before All Hallows Eve. Here in the mountains, the Winter Solstice can be just a day, and the first day of winter, just a point of view.

Within the walls of our narrow, high-peaked rift-like valley, there's not much snow. Oh, it falls, and there's probably about six inches of the stuff on ground. That snow is hard and wind-blown. Wind, blown from the Roof of the World and those high peaks and passes, whips through, chasing the fresh-fallen powder away. That's not to say there's not deeper patches of snow in some places in our little Sahel. Depressions where the wind does not reach. Still, it's not been very conducive for snowshoeing.

The cold has been a little more unrelenting this year. This high up, after a point, the mercury getting above freezing becomes something, which is reminisced fondly, or waited for some month or two down the road. Sometimes, the temperature might get into the thirties on the fahrenheit scale, but, this year, it has thus far averaged in the teens and twenties, and we've had our share of single digits and below, not even factoring that wind.

Not too long ago, someone mentioned winter is one of the things that can test one's mettle in the mountains. Even and especially in our pocket of nowhere. There are those from the flatlands and other far-flung locals, who will speak of loving it here and wanting so dearly to stay. Such cats may go as far as renting or buying property.

And then winter comes. Winter is long. Winter is dark. Winter is cold.

It's not for everyone. I can admit when the mercury gets to those single digits and the joints of my twisted skeleton snap! crackle! pop! with every move that I sometimes question my rational. Of course, then I look at those towering peaks and remember why. This is home. I could be nowhere else.

The cold and the pain it sometimes inflicts is but the price to be paid. And all things carry a price. Only the cheap things can be purchased with folding paper and jingling coins.

It is one of those colder evenings, where the mercury hovers in those lower digits on the fahrenheit scale. The woodstove crackles and pops as the fire consumes another pine log. Sabina and I set about making a supper, which consists of a north African charmoula on salmon and Indian spiced spinach. We have iced boat drinks in defiance of the cold.

Oh, us kookie mountain folk...

The next time the sun rises, there will be milder temperatures and a walkabout. We have began to notice how the daylight lingers just a little bit longer. It's deep winter now, and the skiers and boarders prey for fresh powder, and it would be nice to maybe get in at least one good snowshoe. Still, part of me can almost taste those first cabin-feverdreamed omens of spring.

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