Back in November, I was lunching at Chet’s Place when a bunch of skiers came in. I overheard snippets of their conversations: “I guess I’ll take up golf for the Winter”. “No snow even up North… maybe I’ll go out West before Christmas…”
I was confused at first as to what this panic was all about. I never pay much attention to the weather until the last week of November, or the first week of December. If, like some years, we’ve had some snow by then, fine. If not, then I may get at some more outside chores before they become blissfully unreachable, buried in snow.
The snow crew at Elk are such experts at operating their state of the art snowmaking facilities, that they can make skiable much of the mountain with only a very few days of sub-freezing weather. Why hope for natural snow any earlier than December?
Noting the continued absence of snow, someone remarked that old farmers wisdom dictates that “Snow won’t stay till the ponds are full”. So, patience ensued. It then rained, and rained some more; the ponds became brimming. Yet no snow.
The now saturated ground, under the influence of temperatures that could be described as ‘balmy’ has given rise to a kind of daily uncomfortable humidity. Lately, the air seems thick with moisture – very much like when Spring sunlight coaxes the moisture out of the last of Winter’s snow pack.
Earlier this week, under the influence of freezing temperatures, that humidity bound itself to the forest. The first rays of morning sunlight illuminated branches causing some to look as if studded with diamonds, others, the frost mimicking the velvet on a buck’s antlers.
Some Winters that begin like this, limp through till Spring, soggy and drab. I’ve also seen Winters that begin like this change, as if someone turned a light switch burying us in more snow than what seemed likely early on.
My prediction? I’ll let you know in March.