it snowed in colorado today. being a state known for snow, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. it’s february. however, for all of us natives, transplants, and visitors alike, it actually is surprising because according to alec baldwin and wnyc, here’s the thing: it doesn’t really snow in colorado. not anymore. it hasn’t really snowed in a very long time.
i grew up in the foothills of the rocky mountains. i remember getting storms once a week during the winter. that may be an exaggeration, but i remember it snowing regularly. we’d go skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and ice skating. we’d have snow ball fights, make snowman and angels and white wash each other until someone was crying (usually me, i was a runt). 6-12 inches was not a blizzard, it was a normal colorado storm. of course, we did also get blizzards. 72 inches, white outs so bad you couldn’t see your neighbor’s house, and piles-taller-than-my-person kind of snow storms (yes i am short, but trust me, it was a lot of snow. i had to shovel it).
but for the last few years we just haven’t had the snow. while the northeast has power outages, we are sitting at 60 degrees and sunny. the south has flooding problems, our ground is bare and brown and dry. we might get a storm or two a month, with little to no real accumulation. the lake barely freezes over. the ski slopes look desolate. a few weeks ago it rained. this is colorado. it shouldn’t rain in january. but it did.
so here we are today with a rare, beautiful winter storm. depending on where you live in the front range, they predicted 6-12 inches. everyone is calling it a blizzard.
to be honest, i don’t care if we call it a sprinkling, dusting, storm, wonderland, blizzard, sign of the apocalypse or one of the other 994 words eskimos have for snow. i’m just happy to see the good stuff (“do you know what the street value of this mountain is?” better off dead. anyone? john cusack? what a stud). colorado burned all of last summer. it’s bound to do it again this year. i won’t go into the details of my personal opinion on wild fires (it’s natural and necessary and just because we used our money to build houses in beautiful places doesn’t mean we should be immune to the natural cycle of the ecosystem just to save our “things.” blah blah blah/get this tree hugging hippie out of here, i know) but we need as much moisture as we can get this winter to see real life this spring, and to attempt to try and survive another hot and dry colorado summer.
needless to say, i was happy to wake up to gorgeous fresh snow in denver. unfortunately, i live in boulder. there’s about 30 miles between the two. so after the most horrifying driving experience of my life (coloradans are absolutely out of winter driving practice and snow plowers apparently don’t work on sundays), i felt like i had lost about seven years of my life from the stress/anxiety/fish-tailing/yelling at florida license plates (please do not use your brakes on ice. it doesn’t work. and it’s stupid. and i hate you). so once i was safely home, i decided to try and re-gain some of my youth.
i put on an extra pair of socks, laced-up my snow boots, buttoned-up my parka, and found my favorite babushka hat. i left my cell phone at home. i didn’t even lock my door because really, who is going to rob me during a blizzard? then, i wandered out into the snow alone.
here are a few of my favorite things: ducking under branches because the weight of the snow makes them kiss the ground. talking to neighbors you’d normally ignore because today you both have the time. hearing kids sled down freshly powdered hills. disappearing tracks. the snowballs that cling to the tips of boot laces. dogs running with snow up to their chins. wet eyelashes. feeling like you’re experiencing something no one else has ever seen before simply because the ground is fresh. silent foot steps. the way normally dead colors of brown and yellow and red stand out in snow like artwork against the sky. puddle reflections. plants imitating porcupines because only their tops can see the light. frozen rivers that still move. and when it’s all over? a steamy tea kettle whistling for your attention.
my absolute favorite thing? snow can still slow us down. instead of 65 mph, we have to go 30 or less or not at all. snow takes out power lines forcing us into candle light and warmth from wood burning fires. we can choose to stay inside and complete projects we’ve never had time for or we can venture out and and feel like a new explorer. either way, whatever we inevitably had planned was cancelled due to the weather and our whole day is suddenly free. for example, i was supposed to go snow shoeing today. silly me, i cancelled. due to the weather.
today, alone and outside, was one of the best days i’ve had in a very long time- reflective, quiet, and slow. i hope we get at least one other blizzard this season for the sake of colorado and in the name of slowing down.
a year ago, i was making my way back from california to colorado yet again. i often think of how things would have been if i’d stayed out west. i would be in a completely different place with my career, personal goals, and relationships. sometimes i think about going back. sometimes i think about going somewhere completely different just for the adventure. i can’t promise i’ll stay anywhere forever, but today, at the one year anniversary, i’m happily reminded that i have plenty more adventure waiting just outside my door.
after all, it doesn’t snow everywhere.