Usually, by this time of year, between the first snows, the temperatures, and the fact there's no direct sun on the house from it being the long dark, we have our base-coat of snow out back, which lasts until spring. It makes it all the more shocking that on the precipice of December the remnants of the first snows of the season, the first snow of winter, that there's really nothing in the way of snow out back. A walkabout up Grizzly Gulch the other day met with encounters of frozen water crossings-good thing I took my crampons-but little else, and I ended up in the krumholtz at the foot of Grizzly Peak.
"You been over the passes lately?" An older regular traveler from out of the Babylonian wastes surrounding Viva! Las Vegas! asked me.
"We did a loop the other day," I replied. There was a new vehicle to play Hansel and Gretel in. Roadies and roadtripping. Something to do on a breezy afternoon.
"There isn't enough snow up there to make a snowman," he snorted. "This is bad. Real bad."
"Preaching to the choir, Sir," I said. "But it's early yet. We've still got some winter left."
"Pray you're right," he said. I couldn't bring myself to tell him the only time I prey is in the context of the food chain.
A little over a month ago, whilst returning home from a walkabout, I was taking note of the gentle autumn sunlight filtering lazily through the trees. Insects danced in this glow. The air was warm and the breezes kind. I suddenly found myself filled with dread.
"This is going to be repeat of last winter," I whispered to myself. "That was part of the beginning."
Years back, the idea of mild temperatures and no snow would've pleased me. Perhaps I was selfish. That was another life. A past one. These days, whilst not overly thrilled with bitter cold or having to dig out of a blizzard, I do understand that the snows of winter are not just for the snowbums. Farmers need the runoff for their fields and it certainly helps the mountains from catching fire come summer. All things are connected and that's just the way of it.
There is something macabre about walking in a dried out riverbed that just a couple years back was swollen past capacity with runoff rapids. Of standing on the tundra in early winter and seeing more khaki than white. Hearing that this pattern does not look to be abating anytime soon, doomsayer fears that it may be the way it's going to be for a very long time. The new norm.
"Keep doing your snow-dances," an oracle with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said in a correspondence.
Meteorological prophesy speaks of a possibility of snow in the coming days, though the amounts are not as clear. Prophets do not know everything and oracles can be wrong. Other diviners state the drought, which has gripped a good deal of the country, will persist through at least deep winter. One of my deepest fears is a drought like what drove away the Anasazi.
Average snow would be nice, and it'd look like a bumper year after the last one. I hold out a bit of tepid optimism; it's still early in the season, there's still a bit of winter to come. Perhaps, in a few weeks, these fears will be shown to be unfounded. I cannot dance to save the soul I'm not sure I have, and I only prey in context of the food chain. Be that as it may, I wonder about sacrificing a chicken, or a virgin-if I could find one-for just a little bit of fluffy frozen water.