Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Slight

It looks like it wants to snow this morning, but so far no flakes have fallen down here in the flats.  When the clouds lift, I can see a light dusting extending quite a ways down the mountains.  

My daughter-in-law Debbie, who moved here permanently from Boise last December, asked me when the first snowfall usually comes.

Of course,  answering that brought an image to mind of all those years of teaching school when the first flake making its way to the ground outside the classroom window disrupted any class attention span I might have been enjoying. 

That was usually one of those first days of November.  Sometimes others would follow from above, either bouncing from the ground and melting almost instantaneously or sticking to the dead lawn outside our window.  

Regardless of amounts or staying power, the moment created excitement and expressions of hope within the minds and mouths of students. 

That hope would span from the often unrealistic possibility of those flakes materializing into a full-fledged storm and an early school closure to giddy dreams of Schweitzer Ski Resort possibly opening early that year. 

I often would experience my own momentary flutter when those random flurries would disrupt the lesson.  A kid at heart, I loved snow days and especially loved the idea of being snowbound---for a day or two.  

My opinion of snow has altered a bit over the years.  When we had the long east-west driveway at our home on Great Northern Road, we didn't mind the first few experiences of being drifted shut while watching cars drive by with no problems on the road.  

As time went on, however, the snow amounts turned in to more work than fun.  And, on mornings when school would remain in session in spite of the four-five foot drifts blocking our route from house to road, we were usually exhausted before the day even got off the ground.  

We lived in a tiny belt of land where ravaging storms blowing through on our acreage were mild breezes just a few hundred feet away.  

Still, the school bell rang at the same time, regardless of how much white stuff we had to dig or plow out.  Often plowing and digging were not an option, so we learned to park vehicles at the end of the driveway, face-out. 

I'll never forget the time when school was dismissed at midday and I drove home to find no parking spot even at the end of the driveway, so I parked over in the spot the railroad folks kept cleaned out for their vehicles.

Then, I tried walking from Great Northern Road to our house.

That was not an option on that particular day.

I literally rolled over the ever-growing, ever-blowing drifts for about a third of the way.  Finally, some dips in the drifts allowed me to stand up and slowly make my way to the warmth of the house.  Then there was much more work to do.

Having a farm and the responsibility of animals also tends to put a damper on one's love for big amounts of white stuff hanging around for weeks on end. In a sentence, I'll just say it's a lot of work, and it sometimes gets wearisome.  

We endured that feeling for two winters in a row before last winter's  welcome break from shoveling, plowing, digging out and watching the ongoing boredom of our horses with little or no space in which to maneuver while outside. 

Still, I'm just like anyone else who enjoys the beauty that snow can create, especially when it covers up the dead plant growth which has turned dull and ugly.

I enjoy snowshoeing through the woods and across the fields and watching the horses frolick and play when they're dealing with just a mere blanket rather than the full meal deal of drifts or just deep dumps of white stuff well beyond knee deep. 

None of that has happened yet this morning, but I have a feeling we're going to be seeing and experiencing it before long.  All I ever ask when it comes to any weather pattern is moderation, which is a rarity in North Idaho.  

Maybe we'll be fortunate enough to experience that this winter.   

For now, I'll just enjoy these last days of fall, where most of the winterizing work is done, life has turned relatively carefree and the expectation of those first few flurries is yet to come.

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