11 November 2014
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.