Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Memoir Monday--All About Snow

I suppose when I was little, snow was not anything major, cold, sometimes fun, beautiful and  mostly just accepted as something that happened. Kids tend to be that way.

The first snow I saw and really do not remember, although the photos trick me into thinking I do, was in 1944-45 when my parents were living in Cambridge, MA,  a suburb of Boston and Dad worked at Raytheon for a season. That must have been a snowy year. I had a nice snowsuit and appeared bundled in it in several shots. Oddly that snowsuit went through all three of us kids even if it was pink. The boys were too young to protest wearing it. It was warm and kept us dry!

Then we came to Jerome, AZ. For the first few years, it seemed to snow a lot and be very cold. Our house sat next to four big water tanks that fed most of the town's municipal water system. At least a couple of them were wooden, little more than huge barrels, and they leaked. I can recall a number of times when the fence on the west side of our yard was an ice sculpture. It was pretty but the whole yard was slick as skating rink. I am sure the temperatures must have been down in the teens and not above freezing for several days for that to happen.

It was probably 1949 when there we got a very heavy snow. We had to drive up the highway, 89-A, to see how Mingus Mountain looked. Dad figured our new 4-wheel drive Universal Jeep could make it. It did but only because they had plowed the road! The walls of snow on either side were probably close to eight feet high! On the level it must have been two-three feet anyway.
Of course out at Camp Wood, the very remote community north and west of Prescott where Dad taught the one room school for two years, was in the mountains and got its share of white stuff. There was where my one and only experience with skis occurred. I decided that sitting on my derriere in cold wet stuff was not fun!

By the late 1950s, a drought was in full swing and perhaps the initial phase of the last half century or more of climate change had kicked in. There was a lot less snow in central Arizona. I saw some while we worked with the stock but it was occasional and only one big snow that I recall. And on December 16, 1965, it did not snow much in the valley but that night when my friend Dusty drove me to Flagstaff to catch the train to go to California--at the time I was not sure if it was just a visit or permanent, but I did come back in mid January--the trek up Oak Creek Canyon was a real feat. He was a good driver and made it without scaring me once.

However, when I lived in Flagstaff for four years while going to Northern Arizona University, I got to see plenty! It was cold but even when I lived off campus the last two years, I walked everywhere and it did not seem too bad. One year though it really snowed round Christmas and New Years. That would have been 1967-68. I was again catching the train for California to spend the winter break and we sat in the depot all night. The trains were slow but the only thing running as all the highways were closed. While I was gone, more snow fell. It totalled about nine-ten feet but did melt some and settle between storms so there was probably no more than six feet on the ground at any one time!

My next encounters with snow--often and lots of it--took place the four years we lived in Colorado, settling in what was then a small, rural community called Falcon, about fifteen miles east of Colorado Springs. We had our first blizzard just before Christmas 1973 which almost kept Santa from appearing for the two Walton kids still at home.  Our last blizzard hit in March of 1977. The highway was already closed when my boss finally dismissed us at the Chidlaw Building (NORAD/ADC Headquarters) down in the east-central part of the city but Jim and I thought we could get home via Marksheffel Rd. We didn't make it and spent about eighteen hours in my Ford Pinto while the storm raged. Then we waited another eighteen or so at a nearby little farmhouse before we finally caught a ride home.  Jim and I both got carbon monoxide poisoning to some degree since I idled the car all night. The lee-side window was cracked but funes still built up. A few people did die in this storm and I did not fight when my position was cut later that year by a reduction in force. We moved to central California that fall. No snow there but plenty of fog.

Since then I saw real snow only a few times in Whetstone, outside of Huachuca City, AZ where I lived for almost twenty five years and a bit in Hurley. NM, the winter of 2008-09. Back in Colorado for two years I saw some but no huge amounts and since we have been back in southern New Mexico, it has been only skiffs. We had to sweep off cars and clear the drive of ice once that I recall. Usually it is gone by noon except a few bits in the shade.

Since that storm in 1977, I have been very leary about driving in snow and will not unless it is a real emergency. I like to see the cold white stuff on the mountains and wish copious amounts for Alaska for the sled dogs to enjoy but otherwise, I consider S**W one of the uglier four letter words!

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