puddle 0219

“Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink”

–Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Although the sun is currently shining here in Gunnison, it seems to be a water sort of day. Our weather is generally imported from California, where it has been wet wet wet. The Russian River is sadly mispelled these days: it is Rushin’, cresting 13 feet above flood stage, I am told by the CBS crew that is stranded in Guerneville, completely cut off from the rest of California by this river.

But I’m not sure people along the lower Mississippi care: CBS is now telling us it’s at its fourth-highest height ever, with widespread flooding there as well.

And then the Denver news is showing a car in a sinkhole. Yet another water main has broken, which seems to happen on about a weekly basis in that city. I have no idea if the pipes are all that crappy or what, but water mains break with regular monotony in Denver — and they all seem to result in sinkholes, each of which seems to take at least one car down with it.

We in Gunnison, where we appear to be having a “slightly above average” winter so far in terms of snowpack and water content, are waiting for this California rain to arrive here, probably tomorrow, in the form of snow. I looked last night to see that 5-8 inches has been called for for Saturday.

Which, I hadn’t noticed until the editor of the CB News said something, but meteorologists appear to be standardizing their predictions into bracketed amounts: less than 1, 1-3, 3-5, 5-8. I don’t know what comes above that, since they haven’t predicted more than 5-8 inches for us yet this winter. Some places might know: last week Flagstaff, Arizona, got a hair under 36 inches from one storm.

I haven’t shoveled our roof yet, so I am not prepared for 36 inches, or maybe even 5-8 inches. I am hoping it will arrive at a colder temperature than the last big storm, for lighter snow. Fluffier snow. Snow that doesn’t weigh as much.

I think we are reaching the Shovel Fatigue Point here, even if it’s an average winter. Roads are getting narrower, although if you live in the middle of Gunnison, city crews are starting to crawl along your street, cutting the snowbanks back to the curb. We don’t live in the middle of Gunnison, and our street, thanks to the overabundance of cars and trailers, is down to one lane and covered with a minimum of three inches of packed snow that will someday turn to slush that the city still won’t plow up.

Driveways are thinner; sidewalks are frequently just footpaths. I stopped two-thirds of the way through my chipping project at work, because thanks to recent subzero temperatures, the snow has mostly solidified into ice, and it’s just going to be that way until sometime into May. Or June, if it’s going to continue raining in California and thus snowing here.

Spring break when I went to the University of Colorado was always the last week of March, and three of those four years I came home and raked the yard. (Do I know how to party or what?) The fourth year, which I think was my senior year, I had someone take a picture of me and Taggie, the dog of the time, in the backyard. Tag’s snout is visible, while I’m up to my knees in snow. Behind us you can see icicles hanging off the Bartleson house, indicating that melting had been taking place, even if you couldn’t tell by hearty snow cover.

So far, it’s not looking good for any spring breakers who might want to come home and rake the yard that last week of March. Nor for the people of northern California, nor the lower Mississippi. Not even Wisconsin, where an interstate played host to a 131-car pile-up last weekend due to blowing and blizzarding snow.

It’s weather everywhere, it seems, although we here in Gunnison are the Calm Before the Storm.


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