Welcome to Snowmagedon, 2022. Call me crazy, I love winter. Despite the scary driving, constant shoveling, high-stepping through drifts and chilly toes, I do love winter. The way the sun sparkles on a field full of snow, the songs of chickadees and juncos, and the rosy highlights of alpenglow along the ridgelines.
Winter days are short. The alpenglow colors of sunrise and sunset linger for an elongated hour in all directions – only seen in winter on snow-covered hills. The bowl shape of the Methow Valley edged by jagged ridgelines reflects sunlight off of snow and ice particles low in the atmosphere as the sun hides below the horizon.
Several years ago, I stood next to Methow descendant Elaine Timentwa Emerson as she swept her arm in a wide arc about the valley. She said the word “Methow” meant a bowl-shaped valley surrounded by hills. As she spoke, she cupped her hands together in a bowl shape before drawing a line in the air with her finger, tracing the edges of the hills and peaks within view.
Several years ago, writer Solveig Torvik interviewed Elaine and her sister Tillie, recording audio files of Elaine speaking common phrases in the Methow language. Read the interview and hear the recordings at https://methownet.com/gristarchive/features/timentwa.html.
As I swept and shoveled the 24 inches of snow that fell on Gold Creek last Thursday, I thought about an idea floated by Jarod K. and Leslie Anderson in their podcast, The Cryptonaturalist: “The water in your body is just visiting. It was a thunderstorm a week ago. It will be the ocean soon enough. Most of your cells come and go like morning dew. We are more weather pattern than stone monument. Sunlight on the mist. Summer lightning. Your choices outweigh your substance.”
And isn’t that what we are? Weather patterns that shift with pressure systems, alpenglow reflecting the light around us, unique snowflakes one moment, melting the next, and rushing to the ocean soon enough? All we leave behind are the choices we make that affect the landscape and people around us.
I don’t know what it is a about being snowed in, but the feeling of a dark wintry night makes me hungry for pie. Last week I made a deep-dish shepherd’s pie using root vegetables and canned tomato sauce from our summer garden. For dessert, we had a blueberry lemon pie made with the frozen local blueberries from Hank’s freezer section, and a lemon from our greenhouse lemon tree.
This week, I’m thinking an apple/pear/cranberry/fig pie with a walnut cinnamon topping will make an appearance. Got a favorite winter pie recipe you would like to share?