Let it snow! Let it rain! Let it sleet! I know driving can be miserable in these weather conditions, but according to the National Weather Service, November was the driest month on record for Southwest Idaho, and the third warmest. It’s finally gotten cold and wet enough, I’ve pulled my ski jacket out of storage. We have a crusty old friend who wears coveralls most days and scoffs at people who worry over winter’s late start. He says, “This global warming stuff is nothing but a bunch of hooey!”
I know people who deny climate change and other people who actually applaud it, telling me a warmer climate lengthens the growing season for Idaho crops, and besides, they’ve always hated freezing winter weather. I know people who think like this, but I’m not one of them. I much prefer changing seasons to changing climates. There’s nothing like a good, robust snowfall, the kind that comes in with such a thick blanket of white, schools and workplaces shut down. Then time seems suspended and we’re all forced inside our warm homes, where we talk and get to know each other again.
Though we’ve had some snow so far this December, will there be enough of the white stuff to push with a tractor into a sparkling hill for my children to play “king of the mountain” as they did in 1983? And though it’s cold enough this morning to make walking outside sound like chewing ice cubes, will it freeze long enough to turn the edges of Bruneau Sand Dunes pond into a skating rink like it did in 1991? I remember our kids slipping and sliding along the periphery of the pond in their snow boots, laughing and scaring up a few mallards in the process. In 1996 the snow was so deep on the grain field we were able to give rides across it, with people sitting on an old upturned car hood attached by a rope to our pickup hitch. Will the snow stay thick and cold on Bogus and Soldier and numerous other lower-elevation resorts long enough for a decent ski season?
Even though winter weather has its challenges, we expect it, we want it, we even need it. Prolonged cold kills aggressive insect species like mosquitoes and pine beetles that are a scourge on human lives and the forests in the Northwest. The yearly snowpack in the higher altitudes is what feeds our reservoirs and enables irrigators to make the desert bloom. Winter is a time for all of nature to take a rest, including we humans, who apparently experience a slight metabolic slowdown during this season of hibernation.
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With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, rest doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to me. Even Clement Clarke Moore thought it was standard behavior for this time of year: “And mama in her ’kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap ….”
Diana Hooley writes from her home in Indian Cove.