Red, White, and Winter Blues

Horses are motionless in the sunless cold. You’ll have to pump the brakes. A stillness descends.

field of snow in Wyoming

For better or worse, no red wave has splashed across our land. Instead, we have a white one.

As mere ordinary mortals, we can’t control the weather any more than we can control political events. With apps, we can watch a snowstorm coming on days earlier than we can see the leaden cloud bank looming on the horizon, and they are usually better at forecasts than the political pundits.

Still, somehow, the storm comes as a surprise.

Then the reminders begin. The cotton knit gloves just will not do any longer. You cannot just get up and go these days, because it will take far longer to get ready and also longer to arrive. You turn onto the highway to meet shiny, hard-packed snow, and you cannot quickly trust your sense of the road. You will drive 50 or less rather than 70, brake well before any curve, and pump your brakes gently long before you intend to stop.

Horses in a snowy field

In the valley below, horses stand motionless in the field, saving their energy in the cold, waiting to be fed.  A stillness descends.

“Here we go again,” said the clerk at Super Foods, looking out the plate glass window. Rather, here we stay again.

The mountain pass closes for the day. You call friends who live alone to ask if they need anything. We won’t be packing in for the entire season as the homesteaders did back then, but we will surely spend more time indoors now, in COVID-like isolation.

Darkness falls in late afternoon now.  Just at the time of day when I felt busiest and most alive a few weeks ago, I wonder how soon I should go to bed.

The houses of Congress will be deadlocked again. The longstanding Town Council member has won the election, and everything will go on (or remain dormant) as before.

Snowy highway

Back East the road crews would spray salt, and the snow on streets would melt to slush. Here they spread dirt. As I drive facing a scene of endless white and gray, the fragrance of fresh soil rises up through the ventilation system, bringing with it the incongruous memory of digging in the flower bed with my trowel.

I waited too long to cut down the hollyhocks. They stand there festooned with snow, looking as ridiculous as dowagers who can no longer see well enough to apply their own eyeliner. Another day, I will have to put on heavy gloves and a scarf and shower myself with snow to carry them away.

Will I take advantage of all those extra hours indoors, working by lamplight to accomplish great new things? Probably not. I sense that we will watch old movies by the fire, eat popcorn, and go to bed early.

© Lois Wingerson, 2022

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Author: LivingDubois

I am a retired science journalist, devoted to enjoying and recording the many pleasures of life in the Wyoming's Upper Wind River Valley.

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