As I wake from bed, I stumble over to the loft and stare out the huge windows. It is so cold that it seems even time has frozen. The air is hushed and nothing seems to be moving in this wintry scene. Still, it is 7 a.m. and the dogs need to go outside. In summer, I’d slip my sandals on and be out the door in 10 seconds. Taking them out when it is zero degrees outside requires quite a bit of preparation.
Where are my snow boots? Must have snow boots that fit high up on the calf so I don’t get those icy crystals inside my boot. Need some warm pants – my thin little sweat pants won’t do on this cold morning. And I will definitely need the down jacket, gloves, as well as a hat. Finally, after 10 minutes of pawing through the closet, I’m ready.
Logan and Shawnee are jumping up and down – they don’t care how cold it is. They long to romp through the fluff, kicking up their heels, or better yet flop on their backs to make doggy snow angels. Or maybe they just really need to go potty. I get their leashes on and with trepidation, open the door.
The blast of cold air hits my cheeks, and momentarily takes my breath away. As the sun glints off the snow, it sparkles in a million points of light, and yet also makes my eyes hurt. I forgot one other piece of equipment — sunglasses. As we walk across the driveway, sound breaks the hushed silence – squeak, squeak, squeak. With every step, the rubber soles squeak in the crystalline snow. It’s that cold.
Shawnee is walking funny, picking up her paws abruptly as if she is walking across hot coals. The snow is so cold, it is literally freezing her pads with each step. Logan is moving so quickly, he doesn’t seem to notice, or doesn’t care. He stares intently into the woods. Glancing at the snow, I see hoof prints — probably deer. Winter also gives clues to who’s passing through.
The snow that has fallen is skier’s snow. So light and dry, it literally sprays like sugar as we walk through it. Downhill skiing on days like today can be a double-edged sword. I scream with delight skiing through the champagne powder, but feel the bitter cold riding the lifts. Just the 7 minutes or so it can take to get to the top make my fingers and toes go numb.
It’s strange to think that it can be this cold in the second week of November. We just came back from a trip to Charleston, South Carolina where all weekend people complained of the “cold.” “Oh, it’s so cold today, are you managing to stay warm?” the waitress said. The “cold” consisted of days topping out at 62 degrees and lows in the 50s. I tell them where we live, a foot of snow is falling and that temperatures will be around 0 when I get home. “I can’t imagine, I could never survive!” It’s all relative.
Despite people’s worst nightmare of bitter cold temperatures and snow, it’s not really accurate. As quickly as this snow and cold has come, it will go. The sun will be out, and it will be 50 degrees by week’s end. On the Front Range, winter weather is a constant cycle of peaks and valleys, cold and snow, sun and warmth. You never know what you’re going to get, but you can count on that it’s always changing.