Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter reflection: snowbound, safe, snug


   Winter in the northern Rockies can be magnificent and frightening. It can appear quickly with a temperature drop of 50 or 60 degrees.  Not for the faint of heart.  Or sissies. An elderly neighbor has seen snow all twelve months of the year in the Beartooths.
High Chaparral after a light snow.
Bruce Keller photos
     Winter can also be a time of unparalleled beauty, encouraging reflection and meditation.
One memorable, unusually warm February evening, I took a cup of tea on the porch to admire the full moon. I  tossed a sweater over my shoulders and breathed deeply of the chinook wind.
Change was in the air.  The Yorkies sniffed it!  We woke up the next morning to a couple feet of new snow.
     Here in balmy San Diego now, I'm thinking of my snowbound New England cousins and friends and hoping they're safe and warm.
     And I'm recalling that treasured time a couple winters ago, with 18 inches of new snow and more coming at High Chaparral in the beautiful Beartooths.
     The power went out.  I could see the sagging lines.  The pine boughs around my granite memorial were weighted down to ground level.  It snowed for three days.  I had no phone, no electricity, no heater, three shovels and two perplexed Yorkshire terriers who wanted no part of the great outdoors.  Dug a "medicine wheel" in the snow near the door, kept it cleared and taught Nick and Nora to transit it to do their business.  Had a bounty of fresh running spring water from the pump out front.  Cooked lamb chops and apple sauce on the wood stove.

 Cookie collecting firewood
     Made a comfy bed in the living room and closed off the upstairs to keep the three of us warm. Fashioned a "frig" out front on the porch for the perishables so I didn't have to open and compromise the freezer or indoor frig.  Had six gallons of water in the wine cellar so with the pump water, had plenty for hygiene, flushing the toilet. Kept Gran's old copper tea pot full on the wood stove. Lit brother Rick's hand-painted porcelain lamps for reading my New Yorker in the evening.  No computer of course, but wrote in my journals, produced a couple decent poems.  Lots of firewood to keep the wood stove going, thanks to Keller's and Rick's cutting of three large downed cottonwoods in the last days of fall. Got word through to Keller, friends and family that I was safe, through a neighbor who dug out and drove to Billings. Rose with the sun.  Slept better than I had in years.  I was truly sorry to see the snow plow show up and hear the phone ring.
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