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A Rocky Winter

The temperatures have finally risen and stabilized to more spring-like––sometimes summer-like––levels. An array of color has returned to the earth as the trees and flowers bud, leaf and bloom. Pollen fills the air, dusts everything, and allergic reactions abound. A-choo! Yes, that’s right, no matter how harsh or pleasant their surroundings might be, some typically never-satisfied humans still complain about the weather…which prompted me to consider the alternatives and an experience I’m sharing in this week’s blog post. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by.

A Rocky Winter

 A fire blazes inside the confinement of its moss rock enclosure. Flames dance to the rhythm of crackling wood, a hypnotic spell only broken by intermittent pops as sap pockets erupt like mini volcanoes from the pine logs. The red-orange glow creates an atmosphere of comfort and warmth––perfect for cuddling. The homey scene greatly contrasts the event outdoors as crystalline bits of moisture drift from the night sky to embrace the earth with a chilly white blanket. But even the most basic pleasures of gazing at a toasty fire and the mesmerizing snowfall must come to an end–– there’s a job to get up for in the morning.

 

Five a.m. My bed seems to give birth as I emerge from the many blankets that secured me like a womb. Brrrr. Five degrees outside. Nearly ten inches of fine powder cloaks everything in sight. I shiver, then scurry to the bathroom and a hot shower.

 

With preparations complete and a warm breakfast consumed, I’m ready to challenge the Dr. Zhivago-like surroundings viewed from my window.

Glazed roads inspire an air of caution. Motorists inch along the pavement toward their varied destinations. My trusty 4X4 pickup accepts the difficult conditions and pulls with steady determination.

Following a successful drive, I arrive at my workplace, Rocky Mountain National Park, and step out into an undisturbed pillow of ermine dust. Flakes continue to trickle from the heavens and anoint my face with Nature’s cold blessing. After high-stepping to the office, I check-in and prepare for another day.

Being first on the entrance station scene, I’m obligated to clear the sidewalk and a pathway to my kiosk. But I don’t mind. My reward is the privilege of witnessing the absolute quiet that accompanies a fresh snowfall. Except for the frigid temperatures, Eden could not have provided a more peaceful setting.

While shoveling, I scan the landscape. The majestic ponderosa pines are decorated with clumps of snow that roost in their branches like albino pigeons. An occasional wind gust loosens the frosty mounds and they tumble from their perches. Cascading through other limbs, the clumps gather companions on their downward journey. An explosion of white powder announces their unified collision with the ground.

By mid-morning, the precipitation ends. The sun slowly peeks through thick gray clouds, and the wonders continue. Ol’ Sol illuminates the pristine beauty like a spotlight. Billions of tiny flakes sparkle like rare gems. The added warmth encourages further alabaster migration through the conifer branches. Like inept jugglers, some of the giant ponderosas’ limbs spring back and vault the unexpected weight into the air without direction. Saplings exaggerate that spectacle to the point that I expect them to sigh with each branch cleared. The show continues well into the afternoon.

But Mother Nature’s performance is not limited to the trees. Deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and a few turkeys intermittently appear on the wintry terrain. The critters meander through the chalky powder, each searching for sustenance. Foraging with their noses or beaks, they stop and paw through the dense white mantle to uncover a tantalizing morsel. Between bites they often pose for admirers, then move on. Awed by my surroundings, I can’t help but smile.

 

As my day draws to a close, the sun slowly fades behind the rugged, Rocky Mountain horizon. The temperature descends as well. My furry and feathery companions have left to forage elsewhere or bed down for the night. Still clinging to the branches of their hosts, several snowy clumps freeze and settle in, too. Their turn to display limb-bouncing acrobatics will have to wait for another day.

And like the sun, I must also depart. My shift has ended––time to check-out and return home. I smile once more, grateful that tomorrow I get to repeat the cycle.

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