About those things you just can’t change

Yucca icicles
The big yucca in front of the house is home to some three dozen sparrows, hiding in there behind the unusual icicles.  A Cooper’s Hawk sat on the front gate during the storm, hoping a silly sparrow would come out to dinner. (Photo by Jericha Franz)

Sometimes I am especially un-eager for an occasion to end.  Just once in a while along comes something or other to offer just that extra bit of time.  But one can’t be particular about about the “something or other part”.

There are few things in life that I enjoy less than heavy snow.  Few things I enjoy more than visits from my daughter, Jericha.

early in snowstorm 1
The yucca early in the storm, orbed

What a lovely vacation week my daughter and I were having during her visit here last week…  On Christmas Eve along came word of a winter storm so big and fierce that forecasters were calling it Goliath.  They said it would pound away at New Mexico, top to bottom, and all the way across over Christmas weekend.

Jericha shovelling
Jericha facing a melting Goliath

No matter what can be said about dangerous forecasts, sometimes they are more correct than not.

From late Thursday through Sunday evening we were alternately stirred and numbed by reports of misery in the form of five foot drifts of blizzard snow in parts of New Mexico, to be followed by the coldest temperatures of the year.

Once the actual event launched itself there were reports of 100 or more weather related accidents in Albuquerque, images of scores of semis parked on I-40 eastbound — unable to budge due to the storm.  I-40 eventually was shut down from the Big I in Albuquerque all the way to Amarillo, Texas.

The White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico was among scores of sites shut down, in a jolt to my psyche — I had the notion that snowflakes historically avoided that region.  Two or three flakes every hundred years or so, perhaps?

Jericha’s flight back to pleasant California was set for 6:05 a.m. on Sunday, in the heart of Goliath, giving me pause as I had not driven at night for six years, nor in a snowstorm more recently than 2006.  And here comes a 32 mile trip up the highway doing both?  Hmmm.  I always did like challenges but this one was seeming a trifle, well, life threatening?

flinging snow
She’s having too much fun flinging that snow around!  There was lots more earlier, but I shoveled some of it away to make for faster melting.

Luckily — for us — I live in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, where the Manzano Mountains to the east and a mesa made of old volcanoes to the west often block the worst of weather.  Such proved to be the case this time.  Instead of us digging out from a predicted eight inches of snow, we spent time on Sunday removing less than four inches from walks and driveway.  The stuff was eager to melt, too.

The friendly thing about Goliath, for us, was that Jericha was able to reschedule her flight till Monday morning — even though at the same ghastly early hour.  She even had a small savings on the cost, and no penalty.

The extra time was golden.

I fussed and grumbled about this morning’s early trip to the airport, but the roads were quite clear, no more snow was falling, and night driving was as pleasant as those years when I did lots of it.  Three cheers for not making things worse in your mind than they turn out to be.  One of these days I’ll learn the trick.

So, for many of us in the high desert of the southwest an extreme blizzard, while the Northeastern part of the country featured green grass — even the occasional lawnmower.  Trees blossomed, and sprouting shoots popped up in the woods.   Over where my daughter lives,  the South Bay region near San Francisco, there were hard freezes at night.  She had to get a roommate to bring her bonsai in from the patio for several nights.  Freezes also occurred in far southern California.  Not so far from Death Valley, the hottest place on the planet, in summer.

Another head scratcher.

But us?  Those five foot drifts in southeastern New Mexico never materialized.  Or not for long — they got eight foot drifts over there.  The National Guard had to be called out.  Things were every bit as tough for them as was predicted, and then some.

A smaller storm is due on Tuesday, maybe another on Friday.

Climate change, El Niño?  …  ’Tis the season to be weirder?

Yucca in snow sm_1024
Sketch by Emily Lee


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