(originally written in October 2016)
According to the real estate establishment in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, there are, on average, 242 days of sunshine. That is, they claim more shining sun than in Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
That’s the way it is today: An absolutely clear blue sky, with not one cloud. The forest in which we live (Routt National Forest) at 8,800 feet high is a kaleidoscope of green, yellow, orange and reds. In a word, dazzling. I can see down and out over the valley for seventy miles. The surrounding mountain tops, Hahns Peak, Sand Mountain, Iron Mountain, look like they have been sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Last night, when we walked down from the bunk house (where our TV is exiled) there being absolutely no ambient light, the Milky Way spread above us like a road of bright pebbles. A myriad of other stars were sharp, and bright: Heaven as it ought to be.
It’s not all paradise. Over the last weekend—Saturday and Sunday—it snowed! That’s the earliest sustained snow I’ve seen here in more than twenty years. (The half inch of snow has already melted around us) And to be honest, during the course of the winter (October through April) it can snow as much as six hundred inches. Moreover, when the sun is NOT shining (one of those 123 days) it is gloomy, and one gets so used to the brilliant sun, the greyness can be depressing, especially if the gloom begins to string out for a number of days.
Once, when living in Los Angeles, California, I asked someone if she often went to the wonderful museums in town. “I save them for rainy days.” Then, as she thought about it for a moment, she added; “But it doesn’t rain much in Los Angeles.” In other words, she didn’t go to L.A’s museums. Until I asked, I don’t think she noticed.
Here, in a very rural environment, weather is part of one’s daily life, conversation, one’s work schedule and even—since the nearest food market is thirty miles away—what you eat. In modern urban environs I suspect weather is more of a nuisance than anything, and there are ways to avoid it—like the tunnels and skyways that connect buildings in downtown Minneapolis, or the subways of New York City.
Yet, aware or not, weather does affect us—from what clothing we put on, with what shoes we shod our feet, and yes, what we eat and drink. But since there is weather all around us, 365 days a year, I suspect, more than anything, it influences the way we think. Have you noticed?
(An update on 9/5/17)
At the moment the air is full of smoke. Some of it comes from a (controlled) fire seven miles north. Some comes from a (not controlled) fire fifty miles south west. But most comes from a huge (out of control) fire in Montana. There are more than five hundred fires in the west—right now.