Sure, California has earthquakes and the Pacific can be anything but pacified at times, but barring “the big one,” an occasional shimmy and shake in the Wild West is little when compared to the frequent weather events in the Mild Midwest. Although California weather reports seem to serve little purpose other than to make the rest of the country green with envy, there are times when the residents look to the oracle for signs of change. In winter I checked weather reports to see if I needed an umbrella or sweater. In the rare summer heatwaves I checked when a high pressure system would lift and let the natural air conditioning from the Pacific fog return. Other than that, it just did not occur to me to check in with the weather while I lived in California. Now, I have six weather apps on my devices and several sites bookmarked on my computer to check forecasts, radar maps, heat indices, wind chill factors, road conditions, severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches, and even hurricane warnings.
Five years in and of all the weather drama it is the snow that still astounds me.
Yesterday I awoke to the sound of Hawaiian slack key guitar and the sight of newly fallen snow. It still is miraculous to see the sun go down on grassy terrain and come up to a silent world blanketed in white. I knew it was coming, the snow was forecast and before going to bed a few big flakes could be seen drifting where the landscape lights broke through the darkness. The question always is, how deep will it be? This time it was a few inches accumulation, a bit too deep to ignore. The spouse put down the guitar, leaving the psychological lift of the tropics to see if the snow blower would start. It did not. Fortunately the snowplow guy–whose name and number I was just wracking my brain to recall–remembered us from last year and turned up just as the spouse was getting into his workout with the manual snow plow. He took over and plowed our driveway and walkway, leaving little patches that the sun would later mischievously melt just enough to turn to ice.
A snow day is just fine by me, there is always loads to do indoors. With a gas fireplace, it was lovely to light the fire and glance out the windows at the sun glistening on the snow as I bustled about. The four hour oven cleaning cycle brought cozy heat into the kitchen and seemed like a grand idea, well it did until the fumes overwhelmed the fans and I realized it was far too cold to open any windows. And the walk to the mailbox–tentatively but not always successfully stepping around icy patches only to find two credit card and one magazine offer–was not a high point. Otherwise it was a very nice snow day indeed. I finished up a massive knitting project. I battled the paper monster and updated accounts. I visited the basement exercise room and used it too. Throughout the day every window displayed a sparkling landscape covered in fluffy white snow. It was all and all a very satisfying day.
Yet there is the flip side. Appointments and other obligations do not stop because of snow. Even a clear calendar is no guarantee of remaining snug, safe, and warm at home. In spite of full cabinets, a full freezer, and full refrigerator–all stocked and readied in response to predictions of snow–the perishables perish and eventually it will be necessary to venture out. The snow is lovely but I do so fear the ice. The possibility of hitting black ice and slip sliding off the road or the fear of taking high flying spills on icy walkways and sidewalks are enough to keep me indoors until the next thaw. Add to that the lack of confidence in my winter driving experience, which is to say no prior winter driving experience, and I would happily opt for cabin fever.
In spite of its newly fallen beauty, I cannot be at peace until the winter snow, slush, and ice draw back from the roads and walkways leaving no treacherous ice behind. Unfortunately, none of my weather apps or websites–not a single one–show above freezing temperatures for the next few days. Unless I am willing to give up the milk in my coffee, it is high ho, high ho, out in the snow I go.
Look out experienced winter drivers, here I come.