By Bob Spiwak
It is Saturday morning, a gray day with a few snowflakes falling from a leaden sky. Earlier this morning, we took the dog to Dripping Springs trailhead just down the road. Expectations were to find a lot of cars and a lot of dogs. We were mistaken, and were alone but for the grooming machine plying its way through the Big Valley Ranch trail. We were probably early for a holiday weekend morning.
Several vehicles had gone by on the highway, snowmobile people on their ways to Washington Pass or perhaps to Harts Pass. For over a week the traffic has ranged from solo cars and trucks to caravans headed west. Today at Harts Pass they will find 70 inches of snow at the summit and a snow/water content therein of 22.5 inches, or 126 percent of average. While the snow level has remained pretty static, the water content edges up. With sub-zero nights in our forecast, that figure could be headed down.
We spent Christmas Day at our granddaughter’s place on Lake Chelan. No snow on the ground, no wind off the lake, and bright sunlight throughout the day. Going south from West Boesel there was but one other vehicle all the way to Pateros, and that one turned off at Twisp. With the sun rising to our left, it presented a rare picture of the valley — in part caused by the scars of the summer fires, and otherwise bare spots surrounded by or punctuated by snow fields rising intermittently until reaching the lower levels of the Sawtooth range. There was more texture than I had ever before observed in over 40 years of driving Highway 153. The entree to all this was a brilliant sunrise over the mountains to the east of Winthrop as we approached the sleepy village.
Just a seat-of-the-pants observation, but it seemed that mailed Christmas cards were down about 80 percent from years past. We were among the non-senders this year, although our output has slowly diminished over the decades as well. Perhaps this is the result of the Internet, where you can now send and receive personalized animated cards such as the Jaqui Lawson document from a friend in San Francisco that allowed us to create a moving train from a stationary yard of various railroad cars, engines and tenders. We don’t have audio on the computer any more and this was a chance to use our imaginations.
Another anomaly was the lack of outside lighting and other decorations along the twilight roads back from Chelan. Not only was there a scarcity of holiday lights along the residences, but the towns were also without much decoration, or looking bleak. This was especially true in Winthrop, which looked sad, and made me wonder if it is a budget factor, or a nod toward becoming a “green” town.
When I started this column there was barely any snow falling; now it is coming down thickly in big flakes. Also, when I began this lecture it was not to highlight what happened up here in the hinterland over the past year, but more accurately, what did not happen.
But long-time readers know that little happens here, and what did not happen could be far more exciting and invigorating. So have at it, fill in the blanks and all have yourselves a happy new year. Or any other kind you wish.