By Bill Biddle
“A faux Indian Summer will usher in December” – so says the Methow Valley Winter insert available everywhere in the valley. Right on! These first few days of December will have a faux feel to them with temperatures in the high 30s and no snow on the valley floor. Real Indian Summer, though, was way back in early November after the first snow in mid-October.
So where’s the snow that the valley is famous for in December? Patience, dear readers, patience. The snow is waiting for the waning of the full moon, which will be happening during the first weekend. And, as the calendar would have it, the waxing of a blue moon during the final weekend (immediately after Christmas) will usher in another snowstorm, but this one will be much more vigorous than the snow of the first weekend. Weatherwatch enjoys having the moon predict the weather instead of mainly poetry!
But a poem will tell us what the whole month of December will be like. In May, 2008, Weatherwatch asked Duane Niatum for a poem that would capture the spirit of the season. He contributed a paean of praise for the finch as the songmaker of spring. Now he has given us a poem about winter that speaks about the cold, snowy month of December in the Methow Valley:
Breathing air crisp as spun frost,
wind possesses our nerves,
hands the running ground for snowflakes.
Retreating deeper into afternoon sun,
we step around the last petals of the Nootka rose
tumbling to the ground, vermilion
as the oldest meadow of our elders.
We make raven tracks in the snow,
sing back to the family of chickadees
picking berries glazed with ice,
aware and unconcerned with the two
thorned beggars sliding by.
Spun frost, snowflakes, glazed ice – December. Retreating into afternoon sun is one way of escaping the drama of winter in the Methow.
But Weatherwatch readers can take solace in the verve and vigor of the snow and cold of this December. Early winter this year has had a potpourri of snow/cold and rain/warm events. This will continue throughout the whole winter, but the first blast of truly cold air will come over the first weekend accompanied by a snowstorm, then another snowstorm, and yet another snowstorm. By mid-month two feet plus will blanket the valley. And cold – brrrrr!
The week before Christmas will be clear and especially cold over the solstice on the 21st. Some valley long-timers will be touting 10- to 20-below readings, vying for the lowest reading. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost will be the poem of that week. The month will end with another snowstorm and the waxing moon, which will be full on the 31st. A good December with moonlight and poetry!
January? Stay tuned!