Whitery

Snow coming down at my place
Snow coming down at my place

Longtime friends of mine recently returned to their Spokane home from a New Year’s vacation in Australia and remarked on leaving the greenery down under and arriving at the whitery at home. I have shamelessly adopted their humor as my own. 🙂

chicken in snow
chicken in snow

I live in a valley that is about 500 feet in elevation. That’s not really worth raising an eyebrow at in the Pacific NW, but it does mean a bit more snow than if I were at sea level. The cold air sinks to the bottom of my valley and means the snow lingers a little longer too. I like it. I’ve lived in places most my life where winter was a serious situation: Vermont, Colorado, northern Nevada, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, and the worst winters of all in Idaho. It’s luxury not to have to shovel snow for months, but I also miss having the white stuff around. I only need enough to make it feel like winter is here for real.

In the past six weeks we’ve had enough snow to warrant some photos and a post.

Looking at the tiny hen house from the deck.
Looking at the tiny hen house from the deck.
Chicken hussies were not phased by their first snow, and treated it as they do everything: tasting it. Snow proved edible, and they spent all morning eating it.
Chicken hussies were not phased by their first snow, and treated it as they do everything: tasting it. Snow proved edible, and they spent all morning eating it.
This is Jamie. I can tell her from her twin by the patterns on her back.
This is Jamie. I can tell her from her twin by the patterns on her back.
What's up? Chicken butt!
What’s up? Chicken butt!
Looking up at the house. Even in the winter I am pretty sure I need a couple of trees hanging over that deck. Guess I'll be planting this spring.
Looking up at the house. Even in the winter I am pretty sure I need a couple of trees hanging over that deck. Guess I’ll be planting this spring.
The pond froze over, so the wild ducks went off to find a more accommodating home.
The pond froze over, so the wild ducks went off to find a more accommodating home.

So remember when I blogged about the flooding here? The creek water was so high that it eroded the banks and turned everything that was left to mud. A couple days later there was an enormous downburst in this area, and that blasted high winds into the trees in Rainier. Mature trees were snapped off everywhere, at about 30 feet up from the ground, blocking many roads. Many more were torn right out of the soggy ground, and laid flat. This was the case on my property, where most of the trees down were those whose roots were exposed and loosened due to the flooding. Fresh snow on the downed trees makes it easier to see them on a dark winter day.

Alder in the creek. In total, I have eight trees down. Six are in the creek.
Alder in the creek. In total, I have eight trees down. Six are in the creek.
The log resting horizontally here shows high water level back when the creek flooded.
The log resting horizontally in the air was dropped there when the creek flooded.

Tara and I made a trip up to Moyie Springs, Idaho to visit my stepdad. Our timing was not so great, as we encountered a storm in Hood River, Oregon (about an hour out of Portland), and the snow and slick roads continued all the way through Kennewick, Washington through Spokane and Coer d’Alene, and finally stopped coming down in Sandpoint (about an hour from our destination). It was a 12-hour day, but the Dragon Wagon (my Jeep) did a great job and we were safe all day long. We arrived at Jim’s house to dry ground, but by morning the storm had caught up with us.

View from the Hood River Starbucks as we got some fuel for the road.
View from the Hood River Starbucks as we got some fuel for the road.
View from Jim's cabin in Moyie Springs the morning after we arrived.
View from Jim’s cabin in Moyie Springs the morning after we arrived.
Jim loves antique cars, and so I'm going to assume these are here intentionally, waiting under the snow for some future TLC.
Jim loves antique cars, and so I’m going to assume these are here intentionally, waiting under the snow for some future TLC.
Now these are clearly well loved cars. Tara and I have been for a ride in the one in the center.
Now these are clearly well loved cars. Tara and I have been for a ride in the one in the center.
What do you do when it snows? You shovel, of course.
What do you do when it snows? You shovel, of course.

Now granted, these photos don’t show the worst of what winter can be. Snow only piled up about two inches deep here, and after four days it melted. We’ve had a few more snow falls since, and as you see from the photos, it is just enough to cover the ground. The temps were low in Moyie Springs, down around 18 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. Here in Rainier it dropped into the 20s for a few days, but now it’s up into the nice toasty 40s again and all the whitery is gone.

So I’m satisfied. My Winter check box has been checked, and I’m ready for Spring now.

23 thoughts on “Whitery

    1. ha ha ha! You are too funny, Bruce. Yes, it’s just warm enough that mud is the most lingering result of the snow, added to the mud caused by days and days of rain. Spring comes really early to the Columbia River gorge, so we are a bit spoiled here. I’m sure I’ll be posting photos of tiny green shoots and buds soon.

    1. I totally know what you mean, Andrew! At my age, I’ve lived in enough snow. I don’t mind giving it up for others from here on out. Sounds like your winters are reliably mild. But still… the long dark and wet days get tiresome. Something about snow adds a little excitement to break up the rainy days.

    1. I didn’t plan the Starbucks photo that way, but you are right: the red really shows off the way the snow turns the world to black and white.

      I do have tons of work here. You spoke as though you’ve got some sense of what it’s like to be a gardener, ha ha! I have friends who own chainsaws, and I have big plans for feeding and watering anyone who shows up to haul logs out of the creek with me. Right now it’s all a bunch of mud though, so luckily, I get to wait for dry weather before I really have to start the work. In the meantime, I have branches down all over the place. Again – I get to rely on others. My best friend has a six year old son who thinks hauling sticks to the wood pile is the funnest thing ever. I’ll wait before I tell him the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence…

  1. BRRRR!!!! You get colder temps there than we do here. The snow was fun to look at but then I didn’t have to go out in it. Done with those days. That was brave of you to make that long drive during the worst of the weather we’ve had. I might use other descriptive words here but I’ll be kind understanding that holidays me going home. Done it myself a time or 2 when young and not too bright. 🙂 It does look so fresh and clear there. Looks like you can have a lot of firewood if you are so inclined. More work. But that view makes it all worth it. Giant hugs.

    1. Yes! My thoughts exactly! If I can get all that wood cut up and split, it can dry during the summer, and it will be my fuel next winter. Nice how Mother Nature is providing for me. That kind of work makes me happy. It’s hard, but it feels like I’m actually doing something.

      I do think it’s colder here than a lot of similar places. We are certainly in a protected valley where I am. It’s a small valley, but it was pretty snowy here for days, and when I got out to Highway 30, only about 6 minutes away, there was no snow.

      Thanks for the hugs. I miss you guys. On our next visit I need to bring you a book I promised to loan, and also TS’s radio that he left here.

      1. TS didn’t mention the radio to me. Or maybe I wasn’t listening? 😦 Is it a 2 way radio? Miss you too. He said to tell you he really liked Tara’s senior picture that was in your letter. Great lighting. I’ve been trying to get a chance to tell you it got here. I know what you mean about hard work. It always feels good afterward. Miss you too. Maybe soon you’ll get a break from all the hours.

  2. Snow always makes such beautiful photos. It’s been all rain here the past week, although the snow is piling up on the mountain that I am enjoying now from our sunroom. Love your chickens eating the snow. Want to know what surprised me here, Crystal… all of the places you’ve lived. And here I thought I had bummed around a bit. 🙂 –Curt

    1. You HAVE bummed around a bit, Curt. I’ve got a bit of nomad in me, how about you? One of my favourite lines from the movie Chocolat is how she describes her mother, a gypsy, who was compelled to move to a new town whenever the wind changed direction. I can relate. I have lived in 14 states. But finally, I think I have found peace and don’t feel the need to pack up and take off every 2 or 3 years. I also realized, in all my wanderings, that nowhere feels like home except the Pacific NW. It’s good to know that I am where I belong.

      Snow does make beautiful photos. And like I told Andrew above, snow adds a sparkle to an otherwise dreary winter day.

      1. I’ve played around with genealogical research, Crystal. It’s fun and I wish I had more time for it. But what I’ve discovered is that I came from a long line of wanderers on both sides of my family. It is definitely in my genes. I certainly love where we are now. I was not cut out to live in suburbia. I spent much of my life escaping to the woods… Now I live in them.
        Snow, to me, is drop dead gorgeous.But other than my time in Alaska, I’ve never had to spend whole winters dealing with it. Here, we get our beautiful few inches and then it goes away. I have just enough time to run out and photograph it. 🙂 –Curt

  3. Hi Crystal, you have to love the first bit of snow right? Makes everything sparkle and look freshly painted. It’s better than tons of rain that washes away hills and anything else that gets in the way. My gosh, sorry to hear about flooding in your area. That’s scary all right. We had a fairly mild December, until right around Christmas. Then regular winter made it presence known. Very chilling when we left home for Maui two days ago. If we do get snow, it won’t amount to much this year. But those Arctic blasts seem to still be around.

    1. Maui!! Now that is the perfect balm to a wintery soul. When I lived in Vermont (which must have winters as brutal as yours), I always thought that if I were rich, I would leave the state every February. That seems to be the month when I really have had it with Winter, but it’s still too early to be getting thoughts of Spring. I do hope your vacation is exactly what you need to steel yourself for the rest of the season. How long will you be there?

      No worries about the floods. At my place, it just drowned the lower part of the property and it also filled the pond, which makes me very happy. AND, the pond this past summer had an oil slick on it, from when the previous owner accidentally dumped the riding lawnmower into it. The creek flooded into the pond, and ever since I have not seen an oil sheen. Yay!

    1. I am strong. Strong like a woman who bungee-jumped into a canyon in New Zealand not too long ago!

      To be honest, I am a wimp in warm, humid weather, so if I ever went to visit you at home, I would be whining all day long, ha ha! We have our unique strengths.

  4. Crystal, there’s so much to love in this post (because, as you know, I love snow) but I really like the image of the antique cars in the woods, in the snow. And the view from Jim’s cabin is beautiful.
    As I type this though, my shovel weary muscles are reminding me that they were not shovel ready 🙂

    1. I liked the cars too. So glad I thought to bring the camera. Tara and I had been tasked with taking the dog for a walk while Jim had other things to do. I haven’t asked him about those old cars in the back of the property, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on Jim’s mind and he’ll bring them into the shop one day to get some spit and polish.

      I haven’t yet shoveled this year! Tara wanted to do the shoveling at Jim’s and by the time we got back home, there was only a half-inch left, and frozen solid.

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