White out

For the last few days, we’ve been in crisis mode at our house.

Of course, I’m talking about the snow. It’s not that I wasn’t prepared. In fact, compared past years’ experiences, I was more prepared than an Eagle Scout in the wilderness. Which for me – someone whose children endured their first few hours as “Baby Doe” – isn’t saying much. However, after the last few winters caught me with my pants down in storage and slicks on my cruiser bike, I decided to get serious about this winter stuff – you know, in between enjoying my fourth “last bike ride of the season” and procrastinating until I was absolutely sure every leaf had been purged from the trees out back.

Anyway, in an effort to avoid last year’s unfortunate roof ice dam and subsequent black mold outbreak (still sends shivers down my spine), spouseman spent an entire weekend doing his best Santa impersonation, up on the rooftop. Needless to say, the last tube of Liquid Nails was barely dry as the first flake fell. Talk about prepared, I had even wrestled all the tomato cages out of harm’s way, where no one would run the risk of accidental impalement, and nestled the windows under their blanket of Visqueen for their long winter’s nap. The stage was set, with enough snowpants, boots, hats and various outerwear implements to outfit the 10th Mountain Division.

And that’s when the storm struck. Really, just a small flurry at first, which I dismissed as nothing more than silly schoolyard superstition.

“Did you know, if you wear white and fall into the snow, you will disappear? No one will be able to see you?” my 4-year-old daughter informed me last week. I laughed it off, mostly because at that time, the prospect of any snow seemed particularly remote, let alone enough to engulf an entire child.

However, as the storm of the century began to take aim at Southwest Colorado, her declaration became more frequent. As if harboring her own inner barometric gauge, the announcement increased with frequency as the giant low-pressure system barreled toward us like a bull’s eye in the cross hairs. Soon, the message took on a sense of urgency, broadcast to any and all who would listen.

“If you wear white and fall into the snow, you’ll disappear, lost forever,” I heard her admonish houseguests before sending them out into the pre-storm night. I just shrugged, figuring it was something she learned from a book or TV, or something she ate.

Sure enough, as if on cue, the snow began to fall in copious amounts just as we were going through the rigors of the Monday morning re-entry routine. Suffice to say, Monday mornings are rough enough, without having to run around like a mother hen with her head cut off, scouring dark basement corners and under furniture for missing boots and stray mittens. But, this time the dreaded snow day drill was, dare I say, more like Swiss precision than Clockwork Orange. But it’s funny how just one little, 3-foot-tall, ferociously determined kink can put a wrench in the whole works.

“But, mom,” Scarlett protested as she evaluated the morning’s wardrobe selection. “There’s white!”

Let’s just say, I have a hard enough time getting my self dressed in the morning, let alone another highly opinionated female who prefers to dress like something out of a Punky Brewster convention. It goes against the very fiber of my staid, color-coordinated Midwestern heritage. However, this morning I felt I had done an admirable job of mixing flowers, polka dots, sparkles and stripes (horizontal and vertical).

“What’s wrong?” I asked, slightly injured.

“The stripes. On my arms,” she complained, indicating that not only was I a horrible stylist, but blind as well.

Sure enough, hidden amongst a Technicolor palette to rival Sherwin Williams, there happened to be a few, minuscule, innocent little white stripes. Stripes that took several minutes of convincing would not result in a sudden and traumatizing disappearance from the face of the earth while making snow angels at recess. “Just keep your jacket on,” I reassured her, which she accepted, somewhat reluctantly.

Later that day, as I looked at the curtain of side my office window, I also found myself slipping into a state of disbelief. As night fell, my bike became a mere white stay-puff marshmallow of its former self, and I knew the evening commute home, though only a few blocks, would be epic.

Sure, it was December, but a few short days ago I was basking in short sleeves and 70-degree temps, and now I was faced with the not-so far-fetched prospect of being swallowed alive in a sea of white.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that after several dismally dry years of pining away for powder – heck, I’d a even settled for dust on breakable crust – I had grown accustomed to the fact I now lived in the “banana belt.”

“It used to snow here,” friends who grew up here would say, as if remembering a really good dream. “A lot.”

But then all that changed. Powder dreams gave way to drought nightmares; rivers dried up and forests burned. And then, just when we thought we had it all figured out, it flip-flopped again. The vicious dry cycle ended, and winter seemed to be back with a vengeance, or at least a respectable showing.

Whether it’s a fluke, the real thing, or yet another twist in the global warming saga is any fool’s guess. In any case, I’m prepared – and if I happen to be wearing more white than usual, it’s purely coincidental.

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows