Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours."
We've not seen much winter around here lately--not even a good hint! That is coming close to blasphemy here in Montana where winter seems to like to make itself "king" for almost six months of the year. Basically since October we have had two storms with significant and measurable snow and lots of little one or two inch dustings of snow--but nothing that even comes close to a so-called normal winter here in Montana. At this point, in the little rural town where I live, we are probably a good 20 to 30 inches below our normal snow fall for this time of year. Typically at this time of the year it would have been at least two months since I last saw the grass in the backyard, this year is out in plain sight for everyone to see. At least with the snow the yard looks like everyone else's yard. Winter just has not showed up . . . at least not here . . . and at least not yet.
Winter usually blows into Montana in mid-November with a few preludes in the weeks leading up to that time, but not this year. We had one storm that created quite a stir, but it was a false alarm. It created a little anxiety, a little fear, and people began bracing themselves for a long, long winter. But hey, Montanans are used to winter. Winter is the six to nine long months Montanans endure to enjoy the two months of summer. With the first storm the snow shovels sold out, the snow blowers became hot commodities, and all the sidewalk salt disappeared--then nothing. The snow melted and basically never came back. There was great joy for those who hate winter, sadness for those who love winter, and then confusion for the rest of us who sit somewhere in between. O winter, where art thou!
We have not had snow . . . and, no, I do not miss the snow when I have to shovel it or drive through it. I do not miss creeping along the roadways at a snail's pace, feeling my tires slide, and watching ambitious ignoramuses sliding off into the borrow ditches. The number one excuse they give the highway patrol: "I thought my four-wheel drive could handle the ice at 70mph!" Oh, if were so easy! Nope, I do not miss the snow when it comes to shoveling or driving . . . but this tardy winter is beginning to make me nervous. It is beginning to make lots of Montanans nervous. What will the spring bring?
I guess we will soon know--Groundhog's Day is just around the corner--February 2nd. On that day Punxsutawney Phil will either see his shadow and bring more winter, or he won't and spring will be right around the corner. The fear, at least here in Montana, is that it won't matter what ol' Phil sees --people are expecting the worse. The fear is that Mother Nature is going to come in with vengeance and make up for lost time and snow--it will be nasty. And, they might be right . . . at least based on experience.
Last year a lot of snow fell in April and into May. The Beartooth Pass did not open up until two weeks after Memorial Day--its traditional opening day. The local ski resort picked up nearly 70 inches of snow after its last run on Easter weekend. The hiking trails to get to the higher elevations were nearly impassable with snow until late June. Experience tells us Montanan's that we better brace ourselves as the worse is yet to come.
It makes one anxious--especially me. I am a weather worrier. I check the local forecast every hour on the hour at the National Weather Service. My only wish is that the weather forecasters would do a better job than they normally do--I have had egg on my face many times over the winter months when I braced for a blizzard and ended up with nothing more than a gentle dusting.
I guess some will blame it on global warming--they probably are correct. Others might blame it on an election year and all the "hot" air coming from the east. Some might say that it is just the fact that winter flew the coop and went south for the winter with the rest of the snow birds. Others just figure it is the lull before the storm and that Mother Nature is going to smack us good once we let down our guard. I don't really know, but I do know that my snow shovel is getting rusty, the yard is drying up from lack of moisture, and there ain't no snow to be seen anywhere except up in the mountains!
The only one who is relishing the fact that it hasn't snow is Dora the Dachshund--she hasn't had a belly dragging in the snow for over a month! She loves the fact that she actually has ground clearance and it is nearly the start of February. I love the fact that I don't have to go out to the backyard and shovel her paths to get around. Yeah, we Montanans are getting use to the winter being tardy, but we also know that it is lulling us to sleep and we had better watch out. Winter is out there and it is coming . . . we just don't know when! That makes us nervous . . . real nervous. O winter, where are thou?
It is coming. Soon we will all be . . .