This past weekend was not a favorite for skiers and snowshoers in our region. In fact, as I sat in my living room, I swear I could hear my cross country skis whimpering softly as they stood by the door. Unfortunately our forecasted wintry mix proved to initially be mostly rain and it made a mess of our snow. And then the ice arrived, making Ice, Ice, Baby a more appropriate Christmas Carol than White Christmas.
For folks like me the rain and ice make for poor skiing conditions, although Wren and I enjoyed a nice ski on Friday – our first rainy day – before too much damage had been done. In fact our conditions that day were quite good with a nice glaze on the snow to propel me along. And while skiers were unhappy with the rain and ice, for other people the disappointment at the loss of our snow was more about Christmas and how the first day of winter should not be 45 degrees. I couldn’t have agreed more.
But oddly enough, as much as I was tired from chopping and scraping ice on Sunday, the world was beautiful – like living in an ice palace. And I was surprised on Sunday morning by a flock of about 40 Snow Buntings which descended upon my deck in an effort to extract frozen seed from its cold tomb. Snow it seems can come in many forms.
But despite the beauty of the ice, there is something nice and perhaps “normal” about a truly white Christmas. Perhaps it is the snuggly feeling of being inside where it is warm with our family and friends when it is cold and white outside. Perhaps it is specific activities of the day – my own Christmas ski may be threatened this year depending how much snow we receive in the next few days. Or perhaps it is some nostalgic sense we get as if we are in some Currier and Ives print, complete with old street lamps and horse drawn sleighs.
Perhaps too it is that the darkest time of year needs a little light – and snow provides that. After all, the shortest day of the year precedes Christmas by four days. And many of our own traditions of the holiday involve light. We string lights on our trees, put candles in the windows, and festoon our houses with color. But snow adds light to the entire landscape. It has a comforting glow and appeal.
Over the past week I’ve been out skiing or hiking with Wren in the evening with only the snow to give us light. On moonlit nights it can truly be bright out in the middle of the night.
But despite the loss of much of our snow, all is not lost. Unlike many places further south we did keep some of our snow. And the frozen surface we now have is at least a base for catching more, and snow showers are on the way all throughout this week. Perhaps that’s the reason that The Weather Channel still gives us a high chance of a White Christmas. Hopefully they will prove correct. Not only that, but winter has only just begun. Perhaps in the hopes of positive thinking, I’m still planning on getting my season pass at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Rest assured snow will return and we will all be waiting for it ski poles and snowshoes in hand.