Looking out across the back yard fence at the khaki-colored foothills south of Missoula this morning, blowing steam from a hot cup of coffee, I see more turf than snow. In the back yard, I see more dog crap than turf. I really wish we’d get a big snow storm to cover that shit up.
Rain and snow are predicted for tonight. I’ll see it when I believe it, I’m thinking. Weather forecasters have the most difficult and thankless job this side of being Dick Cheney’s therapist, and Old Man Mother Nature seems intent on proving them wrong. Especially when it comes to snowfall in Montana’s Banana Belt.
When was the last decent snowfall we had? December? November? It seems like we had a couple of good storms early on, enough to open the ski areas and allow me to finally put the lawnmower away for the season. The kids got in one or two sledding sessions, but then the accumulation melted off. We’ve gotten a few minor dumps over the winter, but now we’re stuck in the February doldrums, with the filthy slush stubbornly clinging to everything like a wet booger on a clean finger.
Scanning the back yard, I notice that the exposed dead blades of grass are glistening with dew. I sip my coffee, trying to remember the old weather saying from the Farmer’s Almanac: “When the clouds are on the horizon, you’ll catch more balls than Andre Rison.” No, that’s not it. “When the rain is falling when it’s fair, you just might stain your underwear.” I don’t think so. “When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.” That’s it! The coffee is doing hand-to-hand combat in my brain with my Seasonal Affective Disorder, on a playing field made slippery by a slight Kettlehouse beer hangover. Even with this sloppy fracas raging between my ears, I can see that the snow will probably pass us by once again.
I’ve been reading about the “Snowmaggedon” storms along the East Coast, with Virginia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. getting record amounts of snow. Lots of photos on the internet of pissed off east-coasters trying to dig themselves out from under two feet of heavy wet snow. I’m receiving e-mailed photos of my cousins in Dallas, trying to shovel their drift-filled driveway with leaf rakes. Snowmen the size of garbage trucks, life-sized igloos in every yard. Entire cities shut down and powerless for days from the sheer amount of snow that’s buried them like urban waffles under a blanket of meteorological syrup. (Can you tell I haven’t had breakfast yet?)
But here in Missoula, where we used to have a six-foot high mountain of dirty plowed snow down the middle of Higgins from Thanksgiving to Easter, we’re still waiting. Two inches here or there is nothing to us. It’s just enough to separate the experienced winter drivers from the non-hackers with a flurry of fender benders just after every little storm cell. Local weather forecasters are visibly frustrated on TV newscasts, scratching their heads and trying to put an optimistic face on every low pressure front or arctic moisture thingamajig that moves toward the area. But instead of enjoying a winter wonderland, we’re seeing golf courses open, car washes humming with business, and young women walking around downtown in tube tops and shorts. Okay, I made that last part up, but I’m a big believer in the power of suggestion.
I figure, man, if it’s going to be winter, be Winter, for crying out loud. I don’t want to see crocuses poking up through the dirt in February. I saw a trio of robins in a neighbor’s yard a couple days ago, and it infuriated me. Maybe it’s the SAD (not to be confused with SADS, or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome), but I need me some Real Winter before we slide into spring. Closure on winter? Hell, I’ve hardly seen opener.
Before you wise old-timers jump in and tell me that there’s more winter yet to come, I know that. I was here when the early June snowfall crushed half the trees in town. I’ve been around long enough to see snow in Western Montana in every month but August. I’m not exactly hanging up the sleds and breaking out the patio furniture yet. But I’m getting impatient and grumpy about the lack of snow. Simple as that.
I want to take the kids tubing at Blue Mountain. I want to experience deep powder on my yard-sale snowboard. I want to dig channels through the yard and help the kids build a snow fort. Hell, I’ll even happily shovel two feet of white stuff off the driveway, if it means I get to do all those things.
And don’t even get me started on the snowpack issue, and what it’s going to mean six months from now when the rivers are shrinking down to a trickle and the hills are alive with the sound of wildfires. I’m just taking the short view, and hoping, like everyone else, that we have at least one mother of a snow storm in our near future.
At least enough to cover up the yard again.[Bookmark NewWest.net/BobWire today. Then pray for snow.]