Snow What?

The “lake” — a term used quite loosely to describe this ribbon of water clear up near the dam, by Dillon Pinnacles.

Once upon a time, I don’t remember how long ago, but certainly before social media and “pow cams,” the Denver Broncos hosted some other team for a Monday Night Football game in December.

I remember nothing about the game itself; I probably didn’t watch it. But it was back in the day when you could only watch the NFL on Sundays and this one extra game on Mondays. There was no ESPN, perhaps not even Fox, no streaming packages to saturate your week with collegiate and pro football. Thus, the viewer numbers were more notable than they are today.

And while the game itself is of no lingering significance, the weather was: it snowed for the duration of that game at Mile-High Stadium, which probably was officially called “Mile-High Stadium” back in the days before we realized we could commercialize everything in the quest for more bucks.

It was a big, wet snowstorm, fat flakes wafting before the camera for the entirety of the game. Whether the Broncos won or not, Colorado’s ski resorts benefited mightily: reservations shot up the following day as this de facto nationwide “pow cam” (hipster speak for “powder camera” measuring snow totals at ski areas) inspired skiers across the country.

Now, today, we’re only one day into December, but the repeat of such a seasonal miracle isn’t looking promising. It has been a long, dry fall, with no apparent end in sight. Our ground has yet to freeze, which frankly is all wrong.

The Denver meteorologists are tracking all kinds of records these days: longest stint between snowstorms (usually measured spring to fall), record highs, record-high lows, how far above normal the temperatures are averaging . . . none of these records should be wanted, but I have to note that I’m not hearing many complaints.

In fact, yesterday at the Chamber of Commerce the friendly answer woman was luxuriating in our prolonged warm weather, even though the chamber should be pushing ski packages right now. She did allow as how wrong it seemed to be putting up Christmas decorations without freezing.

Therein lies the real problem: no matter how much we’re enjoying our warm, sunny days and using them to maximize our outdoor chores, this is not the rhythm of our seasons, and it’s throwing me off.

No matter how many Christmas songs Kara plays at work and no matter how artfully Lynn has strung lights around the house, there is nothing that’s going to convince me that it’s already time for the holiday season, and I am woefully behind in preparations for Friday’s Night of Lights and Saturday’s theoretically festive office holiday party.

Despite pervasive rumors that Opening Day was going to be pushed back to this coming Friday — a move that would not have gained a single flake — Crested Butte Mountain Resort opened as planned the day before Thanksgiving, although I heard multiple people refer to the “white ribbon of death,” the small strip of manufactured snow-ice (snice) that provides the entirety of the snowpack.

I’m not actually sure how they’re keeping it in place with days in the 50s, and there was a joke on the front page of the Crested Butte paper a couple weeks back about skiing on dead fish, since the river level is so low it makes one wonder how long they can continue to manufacture snice.

Monarch Resort, which spent a fortune on improvements over the summer, is completely at the mercy of Mother Nature without any snow-making option, and Ma so far isn’t feeling very giving this holiday season. At least not here: Seattle appears to be hogging all the moisture in the West. I’m not sure what they did to deserve all the beneficence, but Seattle should remember: it’s nice, and better than snice, to share.

There is no measurable precipitation in the foreseeable forecast around here, and we just haven’t had much to measure this extended fall. Lynn and I are still watering our tree acquisitions, a weekly task we thought we would be done with sometime in October. At this rate we may be doing this clear up until it’s time to resume watering in the spring.

The editor of the CB paper was still trying for optimism, last I read: he noted, correctly, that some of our monster winters have been preceded by a long dry spell. In 2008, for instance, we got no weather of note until sometime in December, when it started to snow and didn’t stop until 300 inches later in April or May, maybe even June. (That was when we started to wonder if we would ever get summer.)

But. There was that one year, my freshman year in high school, where it never did snow. The neighborhood kids were reduced to playing in our family room, wearing our coats and mittens, pretending it was snowing — it kind of looked like it, anyway, when we inadvertently broke open the bean-bag chair.

It did get cold enough, that year, for plenty of ice, so for recreation we all went out to the reservoir and skated on ice that creaked and cracked and groaned. But it wasn’t much of a ski season.

This year, should it decide not to snow, would be a different proposition altogether, because we are already in a prolonged drought. The entire West is drying up, and earlier this year we attempted to ship our reserved water downstream to Lake Mead, or Powell, or some dam that wasn’t holding back enough water to generate electricity for the Greater Southwest.

I don’t know if our generosity helped down there or not but boy is our own reservoir not even there. It’s pretty much just the Gunnison River, twisting its way across dust flats to the Blue Mesa Dam, which probably also isn’t generating much in the way of power.

So it’s dry, and warm, and we all seem to be enjoying these conditions, although there must be a skier somewhere who is sad, but it’s not really holiday weather and it’s for sure not conducive to keeping our trees hydrated. So welcome, December, but we hope you change your tune soon.

Dec. 1 and I’m already posting holiday videos. It’s a sign of my desperation.

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