Always the Weather

Snow boots(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.

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Judy Kay Slowey-sly
Judy Kay Slowey-sly
6 years ago

I live about 45 min­utes from Los Ange­les. I have endured my share of fires and smoke. Some of the fires have been less than a mile from my neigh­bor­hood. The smell of smoke lingers a long time. 

I just fin­ished read­ing Catch You Lat­er, Tra­tior. It was a a page turn­er. It was espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing to me as I was born in 1950 and can remem­ber some of the hunt for “com­mies.” Thank you for show­ing what it was like for an ordi­nary family.