I've been out in California the last 10 days,
managing to miss just about all of the worst snowstorms in my adopted home
state of Virginia. Our first big storm happened the week
before we left, and barely cleared in time for us to leave. Then, the day after
we left the massive snow dumps began (massive by our standards; sorry, New
The caretakers were snowed in up on the
mountain, the house/dog sitter snowed in at our place in town.
Clear driveway, repeat. And repeat.
The temperature was in the 60's in northern California and they
were praying for rain, with none in sight. Feast or famine, drought or flood.
What's worse, a dust bowl or a mud hole?
I miss snow on the mountain. I don't
particularly like wading a mile through unplowed snow up and down the steep hill to
where the car is parked. I don't miss the power outages and the downed
trees, or the 100 dollars per trip plowing bills and 600 dollar propane
bills. I really don't miss putting two wheels in the
ditch and doing a "controlled" slide down the steepest part of the
road, trying not to notice the nasty drop-off on my right.
I do miss the silence snow brings, the
blanket of quiet and calm it wraps around the house. I miss knowing
animals are circling just at the edge of the woods, and knowing this because I
have seen their tracks. I miss imagining the shapes of these animals as I
identify rabbit, skunk, deer, coyote, bobcat, and the wondering of where these creatures are going to or coming from.
I miss the sound the creek makes when
it's almost frozen bank to bank but still running swiftly under
its ice and snow blanket. I miss those first years when both Jesse dog and
I were strong enough to enjoy those moonlit walks back up that unplowed
road to the cabin after a night at the restaurant.
I miss that dog, and I miss that woman who
still had the strength to work a shift and then walk back to that cabin with
that dog, towel dry us both off, build a fire and sit steaming before
In town the plows come by every couple of
hours. We can pay someone to shovel our walk, clear off our
cars and dig out the snow ridge the plow leaves across the
drive. I can walk into town, or to the grocery store, in less time than it used
to take me to walk down my driveway.
There’s the constant sound of those plows,
and neighbors calling to each other as they shovel out. There are cars and
trucks racing and sliding up and down our street the moment the snow
stops. The only non-human tracks I see are those of the dogs in the
fenced yard. A couple of blue jays and a cardinal are no match for a
trio of red-tail hawks hunting in a slow circle above you
I may not miss that tree falling
across the road, but I miss hearing it fall.