First Snow of the Season

November 18, 2011


     Living close to the land, we understand that our human conventions such as months and weeks are all well and good, but the calendar that counts is nature's. For example, we know that regardless of what the calendar says, it's not wise to plant corn before the oaks get their leaves, or to transplant tomatoes before the snow has melted from the Simcoes (a long, low mountain ridge that we see to the north as we make the drive in to the county seat).

heading off on the morning hike

     Perhaps the most dramatic timing cue nature provides is the season's first real snow ‒ roughly defined as enough snow to make it difficult to use two-wheel drive vehicles. This year, the first snow came unusually early; whether that's a harbinger of the winter to come is anyone's guess. As one of the old-timers noted our first winter here, there's only two kinds of people around here who predict the weather: newcomers and fools. Since we're no longer newcomers, and embarrass ourselves enough as it is, we generally strive to do our best dealing with the weather nature sends us and leave predicting to others.

     When we started out for the morning walk on Wednesday, the ground was clear, but by the half-way point, the snow had started to fall. By the time Lindsay and I headed out in the work truck around eleven on a run to Goldendale, the roads were getting slushy, the visibility poor and the flat trailer we were pulling was acting rangy.

      Fortunately, there were very few others on the road so we had much of the twenty some miles to town to ourselves. On one hand, that was nice, but on the other the empty road starts to make one wonder if you didn't get the memo about the smart play being to wave this one off and try another day. By the time that became apparent, it was as much of a hassle to turn back as it was to be careful and just go on.

looking south across the cloud filled valley of the Klickitat River

     I'm pleased to report that we were able to get our errands done, especially the pick-up of a 4'x9' double-pane, insulated window that a friend of ours had removed from a home being remodeled. It was big and heavy, and for safety's sake, we also picked up a half-ton of hay to give the work truck better traction in the slush pulling the flat-bed trailer.

     We were able to make it home well before dark (a key safety concern on weather-event days), dropped off the trailer with the window where it needs to be stored for now, added the extra hay to the barn, and settled in for the evening.

Andrew gives scale to the huge double-pane thermal window we were able to salvage

     The snow continued on and off most of Thursday, and by Friday morning we had about four inches of accumulation. That's not a lot, but it's certainly enough to qualify as the season's first serious snow. As we met and started out on our Friday morning walk, the sun was peaking through the clouds, and we greatly enjoyed taking in the "winter wonderland" effect of the snow-laden trees.

     We were also pleased to note that we'd gotten through the first snow without a power outage. The first wet snow of the season will often take down a tree somewhere along the power line that serves our area, an outage which is usually dealt with in a matter of hours. One of the many blessings we enjoy here is a top-notch electrical cooperative that is very proactive at keeping the lights on. We're steadily working at enabling Windward to become self-reliant as to our electrical needs, but it's nice to know that it doesn't need to be our first priority.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71