Posts Tagged ‘snow’
Every year, there comes a day…usually in the early Spring…around mid-April, that can only be called Slap Day. No, I’m not saying that everyone should go slap someone, or even that the weather makes you want to slap someone. Although, maybe it does, when they say something like, “We need the moisture.” I mean, we all know that we need the moisture, but it could snow on the mountain, and rain down here. That is what we are supposed to get in the Spring, right? Rain!! I know that the weather isn’t their fault, and they are just trying to look on the bright side. Still it is just so annoying to me, that after enjoying the crocuses and daffodils in your yard…that is starting to turn green…suddenly you can’t find your yard…much less enjoy any flowers. No self respecting flower would come out in this kind of weather, anyway!! I mean, they are delicate!!
I try not to complain, but when Winter pulls such a cruel joke on Spring, I have to draw the line. It seems to me that Winter is enough of a bully to all of us, but when it has to go out and start picking on Spring, who is really just a newborn, after all…well, I get ticked. And, as if that was not enough, Winter doesn’t just throw this whole bullying thing at Spring, he is slapping me with it too. I don’t get it. I have tried to be patient. I have tried to look at snow and cold as just a part of the changing of the seasons. But, lets get them changed already!! What’s up with all of this back and forth. Spring officially arrived on March 20th, after all. That was weeks ago!! And prior to the trusty ground hog’s ridiculous prediction of an early Spring, we had a pretty easy Winter going. You see, once old Punxsutawney Phil decided it was going to start getting nice early for once…well, Winter decided to cut loose. That is the last time I listen to old Punxsutawney Phil…thank you!!
So, all ranting aside, I will just have to look on the bright side, which is impossible to avoid, especially when the sun hits all that snow…and say that yes, we need the moisture, and I’m sure that when this all melts I’ll be glad we got some. And in a few days, I suppose I’ll be able to forget this cruel trick, and move on into Spring with a smile. My annoyance will subside, and the Spring flowers will put joy back into my heart. Yes, I’ll get over Slap Day, but let me tell you this…Old Man Winter…I will not quickly forget your cruel ways.
Living in Wisconsin, my Uncle Bill was no stranger to snow. In reality, it was a fact of life from the time he was a little boy. I’m sure that some winters were worse than others, which is the case in any area that gets snow, but those winters when the area got lots of snow, seemed to cause particular problems for Uncle Bill. I’m sure everyone thinks that lots of snow causes problems for everyone, and I would have to agree, but for Uncle Bill, it was a depressing event to a degree.
At least in his younger days, my uncle loved to be outdoors, and traveling, in particular, was very enjoyable to him. In the letters my dad wrote home to him from World War II, Dad mentioned that Uncle Bill was thinking of going to Mexico…of course, there was a job involved in that one, but Mexico would have also been a way to get out of the snow and warm up too, and since the letter was written in February, it’s my guess that Uncle Bill was, true enough, worried about the shipyards closing, but also, and maybe more importantly, feeling the cold winter weather pretty deeply too.
As a little boy, Uncle Bill had run across snow problems when he found himself sitting on the front walk of the family home, looking at the deep snow that was making it impossible for him to any further on his tricycle. The look on his face told me that this was not a happy little boy, and who could blame him. Tricycles are for riding on, not sitting on with the inability to move. And unfortunately for Uncle Bill, his tricycle was not the only place he found himself in just such a fix. It seems his car ended up snowed in as well, which we all know can be frustrating. The biggest difference between the tricycle and the car is the fact that with the car, Uncle Bill was still able to smile about the whole situation, where with the tricycle, he looked quite annoyed.
Winter’s snow can be lots of fun for everyone, or at least those who like winter and snow, but it also has the irritating ability to slow traffic, mess with travel plans, and make the use of certain toys impossible. For those who live in areas that get lots of snow, it can be particularly annoying, as was the case for Uncle Bill, whose plans always seemed to be foiled by the dumping of large amounts of snow, right on top of his world. It seemed he was always getting snowed in again in those days.
A few days ago, my father-in-law received a phone message from an old family friend. She was calling to wish my mother-in-law a belated happy birthday, and to ask my father-in-law what he remembered about the 1949 blizzard in reference to Colstrip, Montana. Since my father-in-law was in the hospital at the time, I called her back and told her that I would have him call her. Meanwhile, my own interest was peaked about this blizzard, of which I had been totally unaware prior to this call. I got on the Internet and did some searching of my own, and I was quite surprised at what I found.
The 1949 blizzard began on January 2, 1949, and it was soon to be called the “worst winter ever” by anyone who had the misfortune to go through it. The storm roared across several states, and was actually a series of storms that raged on until February 22, and dumped between 50 and 60 inches of snow, depending on where you were. It put a whole lot of people, especially farmers and ranchers in dire straits. Before long everyone knew that something was going to have to be done. Emergency flights of supplies began bringing everything from food to hay to the desperate people in the area. Snow plows pushed through in an effort to get truckloads of hay into the ranchers. Still, it would not be enough to stop the massive loss of livestock that the coming spring would reveal, not to mention the 235 people across several states who lost their lives. My father-in-law told me that the cows tried to stay above the snow by walking on it as it fell. When the snow got very deep, the cows ended up walking above the trees. Then the weight of their bodies caused them to fall through the snow and into the tree tops, where the were trapped and died of starvation. Some ranchers lost entire herds of cattle, either to falling through the tree tops, or being buried alive. My father-in-law told me that the spring brought a horrible sight. Dead cattle hanging in the trees…everywhere.
Transportation came to a standstill too. Before long trains were unable to move forward, and became buried in the snow, right where they stood. When the tracks were finally cleared, the snow would stand as much as 18 feet high beside them. I’m quite sure it was an eerie sight when the trains finally began to move again, because the piled snow was much higher than the trains, and so prevented any view from the train. Not that it mattered much, because there was nothing but snow to see anyway. I can imagine that if a person was at all claustrophobic, however, the feeling that they would encounter going down that track would be almost more than they could bear.
The spring of 1949, would bring to an end, “worst winter ever” and the beginning of healing for many people. Ranchers would have to begin again. Their herds would have to be rebuilt, and it would take much time and a lot of work. I can imagine that the flooding from all that snow was devastating too. Still, healing would take place too. That spring was also one of beginnings, such as the beginning that is so special to my father-in-law, because on June 6, 1949 he would marry the love of his life, my mother-in-law, and so began their years of marriage…63 years and counting.
As much as I dislike snow, and the inevitable wind that always seems to come with it, there are times when, if I have just a moment of free time, and if I stop long enough, I can look at the snow and possibly see something beautiful. It’s hard to do that though…slow down…look around…stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Everything in life these days demands a hectic schedule. Every day I try to cram everything I need to do into a day that doesn’t have enough moments in it, let alone hours.
I had just such a moment on New Years Eve. I had the day off, and Bob had to work. I still had my caregiving duties, but I had a little bit of quiet time late in the morning. I took a look outside, and there it was. The wind had quit. The snow was a little bit windblown, but smooth in many ways. The sun had come out and was shining brightly on the snow. The air was cold…frigid really, but it didn’t matter. I stepped outside, and looked at the snow. The sun was so bright, it made my eyes water, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
The snow was beautiful, but looking deeper I saw what the snow tries to hide from those who just casually glance at it. So often we miss the deep inner beauty of the snow. There in front of my eyes I saw the riches of the snow…the gems that it had been hiding…snow diamonds. “What”, you might ask, “are snow diamonds?” Well, they are not just ice crystals sparkling in the sunshine. They are much more than that. They are the little glimmer of hope that no matter how heavy our burdens are…no matter how tough our job or our life is…there are still beautiful things around us that can lift our spirits, brighten our days, soothe our souls, and mend the brokenness that comes from a life that is lived far too often in a hurry.
As I stood there in the crisp cold air, looking once more at the beauty that had been pointed out to me by my Lord, in an effort to show me the things He has made that I might have missed, I felt a warmth inside me…a smile that started in my heart and after making a brief stop in my consciousness, it came to rest on my face. I closed my eyes so I could fix the image in my memory. With their beauty, the snow diamonds had completed their appointed work. They had lifted this caregiver’s spirit…brightened my day…and made me feel like I could breathe again.
Many people find themselves living, with no plans to move, in a climate that they are often unhappy with. This would apply to me when it comes to Wyoming winters, but, of course, not the summers. My granddaughter, however, is another story. I never would have expected her to be the one to like the winter, and especially the snow. I mean, she did as a little kid, but then most little kids do like the snow…then they wise up…again, my opinion, but Shai still likes the snow today. She wants it to snow a lot from October through March. Crazy kid, but she is my granddaughter, and I love her. Still, on this one issue, we will never agree.
We do agree that driving in snow isn’t such a lovely thing, and we do agree that watching it snow, as long as I don’t have to be out in it, is also a lovely thing. On the rest, well…sometimes I think Shai should have been my sister, Cheryl’s granddaughter, because Cheryl absolutely loves winter…every part of it, except maybe for the driving in it. I shouldn’t be so surprised about that, because Shai’s mom, my daughter, Amy maybe should have belonged to my sister-in-law, Jennifer, in that both hate beef, love vegetables and fish, and both could easily live on pasta. I don’t know how I managed to have such a mixed up daughter and granddaughter. Thankfully, the areas that we disagree on are few, and far between. We like many of the same or similar things, but on this one thing, well, I have to say that Shai is crazy concerning snow, and Amy is crazy concerning beef, and I will never change my mind on that one.
Of course, the snow scenes on Christmas cards, and other pictures is something I doubt if anyone could dislike. As long as you can be warm and cozy in front of a crackling fire with a mug of hot chocolate, those scenes are very nice and create a cozy atmosphere…at least until the reality of just how bitterly cold it is out there, sets in.
Winter has never been my favorite time of year because of the slick roads, wind, and cold, but one thing about winter that I love is the beautiful snow scenes. Sometimes, it is like looking at a Hallmark card. The snow glistens in the sunlight, like diamonds in a necklace. The leaves mostly gone are replaced with snow and frost…Winter’s lace.
Light snow falling gently to the ground, brings a sense of peace and quiet, so that you can almost hear the snowflakes touching the ground. The wind has calmed with the snow’s appearance, and it brings a quietness to both mind and spirit. If you happen to venture out in the evening, under the street lights, the snowflakes look like falling stars twinkling all the way to the ground. It feels like you are walking in a wonderland. It almost seems like make believe. The air is crisp and cold, and add that to the quiet, and you can feel like you are completely alone in the world.
A light snow that sticks to the tree branches becomes like a lacy dress, especially in the moonlight on a crisp, cold night. It’s hard to capture that in pictures sometimes, but when you do, they are amazing, and so you take a little bit of time to try to capture the perfect picture of Night Lace. Finally, you succeed, and then it’s time to head for home.
Walking home in the cold Winter air, makes you finally long for home, The cold air finally creeps into your bones. The snow flakes gently flutter to the ground, and make you want to snuggle up in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa, and just soak in the fire’s warmth. These Winter evenings seem to encourage those cozy moments by the fire, with the smell of the burning wood, and the crackling of the fire. The hot cocoa begins to make you feel tired, and ready for a warm bed and sweet sleep, but your mind continues to linger on the beauty of Winter’s Lace.
I am often amazed at the changes in our weather. No, I don’t buy into the Global Warming thing, which is ridiculous, but I do think our weather runs in cycles. We have droughts and then wet years. We have years with little snow and years with huge spring runoffs. Back in the 1980′s, while Bob was working at Shirley Basin in the Uranium mines, we has one of those huge runoff years. It had snowed an awful lot that year, especially in the mountains, and when Spring arrived, there was so much water that it caused part of the road he drove to and from work to wash out. I know this kind of thing happens periodically, but this was really our first experience with anything like this.
It was quite a big deal. They had to make a way for the men to get around there so they could get to work and I believe that for a time, that meant taking the long way around, adding time to the drive home. Thankfully this was a big enough issue that the highway department got things fixed in a big hurry, but for a time it was quite the novelty. I think probably every person that worked at the mines had their picture taken at the site of the washout. It was the only washout that occurred in the years that Bob worked at Shirley Basin, even though we have had other bad flood years since that time.
One such washout, or in this case, landslide, happened in May 2011, when a huge hillside near Jackson, Wyoming blocked Highway 26/89 for 10 days. And then there was the flood that practically wiped out Kaycee, Wyoming in August 2002, wiping out one of the bridges on I-25. Even though these situations were not the first ones I had ever heard of, they still shocked me in a big way. Wyoming is normally such a dry state, that to think of floods and landslides is unusual. It’s just something that can happen in any state if the conditions are right.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher. That said, I’m quite certain that I would not have been very interested in being the only teacher in a one room schoolhouse, where I was responsible for all the grades. I suppose teaching was quite a bit easier, because so much has changed is the education system…not to mention the knowledge base we have now as compared to in the 1800′s.
Of course, teaching and the students have changed so much over the last 100 years, that I don’t think I would want to be a teacher these days. With all the changes in the school systems, especially the removal of God from our schools, discipline and respect in the schools is a thing of the past. Students do whatever they want, and teachers have little or no control. It is a sad state of affairs. Also, with the removal of God from the school, alternative lifestyles are being taught. I don’t say people don’t have the right to live their lives as they choose, but I don’t like the idea of that being taught in the schools, and I would have a hard time teaching it myself.
What I find interesting about the old one room schoolhouse, and they way they taught back then, is that the different grades had to do their own work while a group in one grade was being taught their lessons. We often say that kids shouldn’t listen to the radio, while doing homework, but I think they have been able to close distractions out for many years, and the radio doesn’t seem like it would be any different to me. I also wonder about how much the younger grades are absorbing while they are hearing the upper grades lessons. It would seem to me that they could learn quite a bit that way, and it might make it easier, as they move into the next grade, to understand the work.
And of course, the students played together. These days, teenagers seldom spend much time with grade school children who are not related to them, but back then, it was very common. Most of our grandparents or great grandparents attended a one room schoolhouse at one time or another. We are the ones who find that so different. One thing to note in Wyoming, however, is that we still actually have a couple of one room schoolhouses in the state. I think I would find it interesting to visit one…wouldn’t you?
Travel has always been something my family has enjoyed doing. As a kid, I remember that my teachers and fellow students were surprised at some of the places we had been. When Bob and I got married we wanted to pass that on to our girls as much as possible, and while we didn’t do quite as well and my parents had, Corrie and Amy have had the opportunity to go a number of places. Bob bowled in the national bowling tournament, so the places we went were places we might not have gone.
One place we went that was not on a bowling vacation, was Beartooth Pass in northern Wyoming. It was an amazing trip. The area is beautiful and the mountain views are awesome. It had been quite a while since I had seen summer snow. The year my daughter, Corrie was born, in fact. She was born June 30, 1975, and it snowed for a few minutes on the 4th of July that year…I couldn’t believe it.
The trip through Beartooth Pass, however, made the 4th of July snow look like a rain storm. It was so much fun to see all that snow. It was over the top of our camper. They had to have poles to show the snow plows where the edge of the road was. I know we have all seen stuff like this before, but we really hadn’t come across it, in my memory anyway, so it was pretty cool. Our girls got pretty wide eyed when they saw it too.
Vacations are all about going to new places and seeing things you wouldn’t normally see in your own area, so I guess you could say that we definitely accomplished that. And some vacations are of the type that you really never forget them, and for a variety of reasons. This was one we never forgot for several reasons. The vast scenery, which was so beautiful, the deep snow, and the breakfast that became lunch because what appeared to be a few miles down the road on the map, ended up taking several hours to travel. Everything turned out ok in the end, because we also tried Buffalo burgers for the first time, and they sure were good.
When little boys get a new toy, it seems inevitable that the dads, uncles, big brothers, and even grandpas are going to help the little boy play with the new toy…especially if the toy is a cool one, like a truck with moving parts, a crane , or something cool like that. Sometimes the big boys help so much that the little boys hardly get to play at all. It seems like when girls grow up and get done playing with toys, they don’t tend to go back to them as readily…not so with men. Those toys always have their draw for men.
The funny thing about toys is that sometimes, the little boys get almost pushed aside so the big boys can play with the toys. Or better yet…it must be time for a nap right. Oh they’ll never admit it, but boys toys are pretty hard for the big boys to resist…especially considering the fact that the toys these days are more cool that when we were kids.
As boys get older, the toys do cost more but the reality is that they are still toys. Women think of a car as transportation, men have to know all the inner workings and how it all works. Oh, I know that there are exceptions to the rule. There are women mechanics and men who don’t care about how a car works, but there are still toys that big boys have. And, the types of toys are as varied as the boys.
And sometimes, The little boys don’t even have to be around with their toys for two big boys to decide to act like little boys again. On a snowy day when they are done with their work, or maybe just tired of it, a child’s sled can and a strong son-in-law can make for a great big boys toy. And if the little boys come out and want to play…well, you just tell them the same thing you told them when they first learned to play. If you had it first, you don’t have to give it up, so…seriously…we had it first!! Go find your own toys to play with.
Yep, the funny thing about boys is that they never really grow up. They might get bigger, and the toys might get more expensive, but that does not mean that they won’t want to play anyway. Boys will be boys. And boys will always have their toys.