"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

11 November 2014

Winter's Calling

A little rivulet along the Argentine Railroad Grade, two days back...

Despite the bluster to wind, it was a mild day. I would eventually record the high as fifty on the Fahrenheit scale, eighteen degrees above that of frozen water. Although I had a soft shell in my pack, the fleece vest I wore was suffice for bushwhacking through a heavily treed slope, which spends much of its day these days in shadow.

We climbed a couple hundred feet up the mountain, to an old wagon road my daughter and I found a few years ago. Other than a few cut trees at the avalanche chute, we were hard-pressed to find any notations of the passings of Man since out last expedition this way. Down on the main trail, we saw deer, prancing and cavorting in the woods. A day later, the magistrate would tell me hunting season was over. Perhaps the deer were aware of that somehow and frolicking in thanksgiving.

Later that night, sore and exhausted from scrabbling up mountainsides, I wondered if I was getting old[er] that such a walkabout would kick my ass. Then a gust of wind rattled the house. I knew what was coming, the meteorological prophecy had been doomsaying it for days. Now, my twisted skeleton was confirming it as more than just hype and other forms of hearsay.


I made note of the first flakes starting to fall shortly after ten in the morning. Sempai and I still tried to accomplish an outdoor project of covering some of his plants. No bad weather, just the wrong clothes. We didn't have everything needed to complete the project and I went to have my Brazilian-style shrimp-take that, weather! Ha-ha!-for lunch. It was shortly after two in the afternoon a traveler asked me about the Road.

"It's a long strip of asphalt which runs east-west through the state," I said honestly.

"I hear it's closed," the traveler said, somewhat confused by my very to-the-point answer.

"I've been detained as to not be able to check, but let's have a look-see," I said.

First accumulating snow, first closers along the corridor. It is the way of things. Even if Sempai, the bookkeeper, and I all agreed the amount of snow that had fallen, that continued to fall, hardly warranted it.

"Everybody's getting their snowlegs on," I told another traveler when they asked me how and why this sort of thing happened.

For the next three hours, I would be repeating words to that effect like a mantra. Or a broken record. Take your pick.

"Can't you just call the highway patrol and get an estimate of when it's going to open again?" A traveler asked me as he drummed his impatient fingers on the counter. He did not appreciate my reaction.

"They don't give us that!" I said only after my uproarious laugher subsided. "Sort of a covering of backsides on their part. See, if they said it'd be open in two hours, there'd be some people who'd be upset it took two hours and five minutes."

Some people translating into impatient, entitled pigfuckers, that is...

When everything opened up again, I pulled the trash and took my leave. Sabina was making pizza, Monday being one of the few nights of the week I let her into my kitchen to cook. I had a calming tumbler of whiskey when I got home. We pulled out our heavy down parkas for a walk after supper.


What a difference two days makes; looking at the Bull's Head from out front of the house this morning...

I awoke to single digits. The daytime high temperature would I would record would be twenty-two, twenty-nine degrees below two days before, and ten degrees below that of frozen water. Slush-bergs ambled down the river's current. In another month, there'll be places it'll be frozen over completely. The cats looked at the hounds and I like we were insane for stepping outside and I realized I'd need to start checking the indoor litterbox more often.

Despite the cold, there were still things that needed to be done. A few errands down-valley, a walkabout to a ruin at the edge of town. There's no bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

"Welcome to winter," I'd said to Sabina when I told her of the closer the day before.

Looking at meteorological prophecy, I'd wager I'm not far off, despite the fact it's six to ten days before my usual marker of when we lose direct sunlight on the house. It would seem winter decided to come a little early. Time is an abstract, after all.

I have the gear and it's been entirely too long since I snowshoed. We've only got six weeks to get conditioned for our hut trip. The only thing winter means up here is type of layering you do when playing outside. So it goes.


  1. Damn, left a comment that didn't take for some reason. Sending this just to see if it was an anomoly.

  2. Ok, here's an approximation of what I said......Must be amusing to deal with your 'customers'....perhaps you should move your village further from the cross-state freeway. It's minus 7 as I write, supposedly hitting -22 by the morning.
    My buddy down the street remarked on the cold today, as did I. We've both been in far colder, but this sudden change, a delta of 80 degrees in 4 days, is difficult to adjust to this year.
    Prepare, adjust or die, eh? I prepared by hitting the store today, stocking up. I'll peer outside, but hopefully not freeze my nosehairs.
    Put your snowshoes on, young man, go out there. Tell me about it.

    1. All things considered, that one cat was one of only two travelers who were bitchy. Usually, during a closer, toward the end of I fight not to become exceedingly snappy. Whilst this one was long, it wasn't the most horrific I dealt with.

      It has been a jolt, and I'd have liked a bit more of a gradual cool-down, but the weather does not make such considerations for us, and it is folly to think otherwise. When it gets this kind of cold I sleep rather fitfully, like some do when it's really hot out. Doesn't matter the amount of blankets, fire, or bedclothes, I deliriously hallucinate-if that-more than dream.

      The scheme had been to hop over to Breckenridge today for a lunch of Cajun, bottles of whiskey and rum from the distillery, and looking for something for the upcoming twentieth anniversary of my daughter's womb emancipation-her term, she makes me so proud. however, it is snowing with a chance of three to seven inches on top of the three we got Monday and a high of maybe fourteen above. We might be breaking the snowshoes out instead and not driving too far afield.

  3. I want nothing more than to spend a winter in the mountains. The cold air makes me feel alive. It's indescribable.

    1. You totally should. If for no other reason than to say you did. Live the dream! Although, I'd advise you do so once you moved to Bavaria to be with your lovely betrothed, because, after all, it's the Alps.