Author-historian James Michener reported it used to be said of the Platte River: “Too thick to drink, too thin to plow.” Were he still around, he could write about modern Gunnison snow storms: Too much to ignore, too little to shovel.
Compared especially to last year, we have a decent amount of snow on the ground. But our standards have changed. “Decent amount” used to mean knee level, although we’ve established my knees used to be closer to the ground. Perhaps a more scientific indicator would be Cranor Hill Ski Area, which opened every winter but one during my youth, and these years is more often than not closed due to lack of snow. As it is now, although they are packing what’s there, in hopes of eventually opening this season.
Last year we got almost no snow, and when it did snow, it was Michener-like: just enough to be annoying. And we paid the price: major drought conditions this past summer. You should see the “lake”: Blue Mesa Reservoir is drawn down so far that local historian Dave Primus was able to lead historical excursions to the remnants of Iola, a little town subsumed in the 1960s by the new lake.
So this season Gunnison residents are telling each other, “We need the moisture,” every time it snows. But it’s a game of inches, to quote some football coach somewhere, as we build a base little by little. (We’re going to keep it, though, don’t you worry: we’re scheduled to go to -13 tomorrow.)
After snowing a drib here and a drab there, guess what it’s supposed to do today, the first planned day of framing at the Some Day Ranch? Really snow. Like it means it. Thus the Pushmepullyou begins: we need the snow, but Lynn and I want a house.
Yesterday at sunset we were out at Riverwalk wandering around when we saw headlights at our lot. My first thought, even though the angle seemed wrong, was that I had left my lights on, but no, it was Bret(t), Dusty’s employee who apparently gets all the choice assignments. For the second time he was out there on a non-regular work day, shoveling out the cee-ment pond, trying to get it ready for the framing scheduled to commence today.
His work may all have been for naught. I watched it start to snow around midnight-thirty this morning, although again, we barely have anything shovel-worthy seven hours later. We are about 15 minutes away from the start of the workday (for some people: Lynn has been at work for nearly two hours, and I won’t start for two hours yet), but I don’t know what this means for framers.
When it became apparent that this would be a winter build, Dusty told us he doesn’t waste his customers’ money by trying to work on days when conditions don’t provide for it. The amount of work done doesn’t equal the amount spent, he said.
At the time, he was planning to do the framing himself, but now that has been subcontracted. I don’t know who makes the call in a situation like that: Dusty, as the general contractor, or the sub boss, who knows what his crew can and can’t do. And I also don’t know what happens if a floor is placed over an inch or two of fresh snow in the cee-ment pond.
Dusty has told me a couple of times what the procedure is for lining the foundation and ensuring moisture doesn’t interfere with the new walls, but do you think I’m going to remember what he said? And I can’t imagine anyone, not even the tenacious Bret(t), wanting to shovel out a crawlspace with a floor on top of it.
So I suppose, since at least this inquiring mind wants to know, Oz and I will skip walking to work today and instead drive out to the lot. This will probably be like the day we drove out to see the well being drilled, only to find complete inaction. (And we still have no well, although I don’t guess we need it just yet.)
I can’t remember how old I was, or where Tia is in this story, but Jim Anderson was the newly-minted school superintendent, just arrived from South Dakota (which figures prominently in this story). It started snowing, for real, as it often did back in the old days. Superintendent Anderson, fresh from South Dakota, was sure the wind would kick up and the snow would begin drifting, leaving children stranded and unable to get home. So he closed the schools in the middle of the day and sent everyone home early.
It was the first time in 56 years Gunnison schools had closed on account of snow.
The blustery conditions Jim Anderson expected never materialized, of course, and all I remember is Terri and I out tromping around in above-knee snow in what was then a pasture and is now filled with houses framed by the crew that will frame our house. Some Day, if not today.
[After another 40-, 50-some-year gap, the schools were closed once again on account of snow, that time (if I remember correctly) for a day and a half, and by Superintendent Doug Tredway, who has been in Gunnison almost all of his life (and whose son owns a Riverwalk lot), so we assume that was a more reasoned closure.]
If framers can’t work today because of the weather, and not tomorrow because it’s a New Year (I don’t know about you, but by the time we get to this one, which should be the first but feels like the last, I’m about holidayed out), then we’ll see about Wednesday.
One inch at a time, I guess. After all, we need the moisture.