Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

We live in a valley formed by mountain ranges to the east and west with an ocean bay 50 miles to the north and a coastline 25 miles westward; a geographical formation that climatologists designate a semi-arid area. By comparison to many areas of the United States, we do not experience the extreme colds of blizzards, the debilitating effects of high heat/humidity temperatures, nor tornados or hurricanes. Our snowfalls on the mountain ranges are not uncommon, but at 71 years of age I can count on one hand the times snow has fallen on the Valley floor. Because our most threatening natural occurrences, earthquakes, are not seasonal, our usual climate extreme comes in the form of high volumes of groundwater due to an abundant rain season. And while the loss of land and crop production is a huge hit to the agricultural economy and is felt nationwide, they do not result in the greater loss of life of other areas.

All that opening paragraph is gleaned from online sources just so I could convey to readers what most all of you already know: we got it pretty good when it comes to weather. I’m pretty sure that is one of the major reasons those of us who either return here after absences or have never left the Valley live here, the weather is tolerable.

I have over the past three or four decades spent time in other states whose weather was far different that what I experienced in my first 19 years in Greenfield. The extreme dry heat of the Southwest, the godawful snow hassles of the Ozark Mountains and the energy sapping, doldrum inducing humidity of the land between the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Here, we have none of those extremes, but we do have seasonal winds. I will admit that at my age I am less tolerant of windy days than a decade ago; such is old age.

All this is a lead up to explain that as one who does not operate well in the relatively cold weather we have here and has openly expressed a disdain for any snow that is closer than 15 miles away high atop a ridge and that doesn’t last more than a few days, I am now highly concerned about snow. Not about snow here, we get frost here (there is frost on the windshields of the vehicles I see out my window as I type) but not snow. I am concerned about the snowfalls 1,515 miles dead east of King City, and 1,139 north by northeast of here. Those are the driving distances between here and where my daughter and son live, and currently weather in both those areas are cause of concern; and by concern, I mean worry.

I don’t often write about Jenny and Steven, I mean we all have some family in our lives, near or close, and whether it makes any sense or not we all at one time or another worry about what is happening in their lives. At this time the severe winter weather sweeping through the Midwest can be a driver’s nightmare, and Jenny and seven grandkids live in the Edmond/Oklahoma City area, only three are non-drivers. The second oldest, Beccah, was in an accident when as a senior on a wet, slippery day, her car jumped the curb, crashed through a fence, and came to rest against the side of a house. Both she and the car survived and, hopefully, she learned something. On this past Christmas Day, the third oldest at 21 years of age totaled both his car and his ankle in another cold weather accident; the ankle is doing well but probably will need some surgery. Lesson learned; I hope.

My concerns can be supported by the weather report for Edmond, Okla., tomorrow, which predicts temperatures from 1 to 9 degrees with morning snow showers and 11 mph winds. And five of my family must drive the streets and freeways in those conditions. I wish them luck.

And usually, the last to call for snow, I wish it would make a prompt appearance up in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Just outside the small town of Darby, there can be found the Triple Creek Resort, an upscale resort offering a wide variety of outdoor experiences, including horseback riding in the warm seasons and both cross-country skiing and dog sled rides in snowy season. This year the annual snowfall is well below average and the snow that has fallen quickly blows away and melts. The heavy snows that pack enough to allow for skis and sled runners to glide smoothy across the landscape have not fallen.

The reason I’m all for snow this year is because my son Steven is the one who gives the sled rides to people from places like Florida or Phoenix who want to experience winter sports just like a Vermonter or New Yorker wants to snorkel in the Keys or water ski on the Colorado. And as of yesterday, there is still insufficient snow to propel a sled; no matter how much his 53 dogs are, literally, chomping at their reins.

As dogs with inherent capabilities to endure cold weather and trained to pull sleds when the cold weather sets in, it is hard to keep them inactive. Not to mention this season the great loss of income for Steven; no small situation as the dog food bill is $2,300 a month, every month.

This is his third season at Triple Creek and to avoid a roundtrip with dogs to his Idaho homestead, he stayed on during the warm months as part of the resort’s maintenance and construction crew. His wages plus the cabin he stays in and the dog enclosure come gratis with the job are holding him over until substantial snowfall frees him up to do that which is first passion and his dog’s greatest joy: sledding through a snow filled forest with passengers on board. So, I hope for snow.

Take care. Peace.

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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