Life is full of perspective checks. Feeling beleaguered, put-upon, unfairly inconvenienced? Just read or listen to the news, if you can bear it. War in Ukraine. Earthquake in Turkey. Mass shootings nearly every day. Unimaginable national debt. Tech sector job losses. The undemocratization of Florida. Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity caught telling the truth. George and Kellyanne getting divorced. Dilbert banished.
And snow, snow, snow in California. The state has been swept by a monstrous series of storms. Great for jaw-dropping photo ops and possibly for the snowpack and drought outlook. Not so much for inundated residents. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Associated Press story:
“In an extremely unusual event, staggering amounts of snow fell east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains and the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains, where thousands of people live or visit communities at high elevations reached by windy, steep highways.
“Both mountain ranges routinely have winter snowfalls, but what looked like the foundation for epic downhill ski days instead became a nightmare.
“Big Bear City received 80 inches (203 centimeters) of snow over a seven-day period, the most since these records have been tracked, according to meteorologist Alex Tardy, with the National Weather Service in San Diego. Until now, the most snow recorded in a seven-day period there was 58 inches (147 centimeters) in 1979.”
To be sure, it’s a once-in-an-eon phenomenon, we’re told, but if it’s your eon, that matters.
All of which makes me feel embarrassed about being a little — OK, more than a little — whiny over the lingering effects of our Methow winter, which continues to advance and retreat. Snow, cold, warm, thaw, freeze, ice, snow on top of the ice, rinse and repeat. Please, spring, stop dawdling and get on with it. We’re ready.
Of course, the current season has been great for skiing and winter recreating. And it’s pretty, at least above the floor level of the valley. Down here in the towns, ugly cement-like snow berms are piled along the streets, narrowing the driving options and blocking views from intersections. The craggy Twisp Range on my street is particularly impressive.
And have you hit one of those landlocked icebergs, thinking on impact that the snow would give way? I did. It was my bumper that gave way, as a big chunk of it separated from the rest of the car. It was pretty much cosmetic damage, but still. A friend of mine had the same kind of encounter with an impregnable snowbank, which shocked her by mashing a running board on her rig. Bump, dents and missing parts are relatable experiences.
I shoveled my small driveway twice last weekend. The narrow path to the door of my house is a treacherous corridor. At work, melting snow has already seeped its way into our office (then freezing overnight). There are sandbags at our door. All over the valley, I see similar floods waiting to happen.
What’s the matter with me? I know where I live, what to expect, how to cope. I lived in Minnesota for years, enduring some of the worst blizzards in that state’s history. So why is this winter so wearing? Whatever it is, I’m not alone — I’ve heard countless hard-core valleyites express similar sentiments. They’re tired of the meteorological vagaries, weary of guessing when it’s least-hazardous to venture across the mountains, fatigued by walking like penguins (harder than you think) to avoid going helplessly airborne.
It may have been the early-season dumps that caught us a bit off guard, altering holiday plans and taxing our plowing and snow-storage resources. And let’s face it, there has been a lot (I know, not scientifically precise) of snow since then.
And yet, not quite California, where a good portion of the population has no experience with anything like even a normal Methow winter. Here’s another excerpt from the AP story:
“Free food distribution centers have been set up at five locations, including the community of Crestline, which sits at an elevation of about 4,600 feet (1,400 meters). A line of people waited there Monday to pick up food and necessities, such as toilet paper stacked in a parking lot.
‘Imagine not having any food in your house after being trapped for 13 days,’ resident Michelle Calkins told KTLA-TV.
“Pablo Tello, another Crestline resident, picked up a replacement for a broken shovel so he could get back to helping dig snow away from homes, with special attention to buried gas lines that have been linked to several fires.”
Yikes. Perspective check. So, buck up, slow down, keep the emergency gear in the car, give everyone else a little space to maneuver. Be brave, Methow. This too shall pass.