Monday, December 15, 2008

Missing a Montana Winter

This morning we woke to a slight dusting of powdered sugar on brownies. Just up the road 30 minutes, friends received about 16 inches. "The picnic table has a nice cap on it."
I grew up in Montana and left when I married a military man. We have lived in warmer climates since then...Mississippi, New Mexico, Japan, Texas, Arkansas and now California. California is actually the coldest climate we have lived since the major went active duty. But I miss the cold of Montana...not the "freeze your lungs with one breath cold". My last winter in Montana we had a week of 60+ degrees BELOW zero...without windchill. No...I prefer the cold that makes the snow beneath your feet crunch with each step. The cold that bites at your nose and cheeks just enough to make them rosey.
When I was old enough to drive, I would head up to the mountains on a sunny winter day. I would drive as far as I could, camera awaiting on the seat next to me to get the perfect picture.
One day I did get that picture. The sun was sparkling through the trees laden with fresh snow. The creek below was frozen except for the slightest trickle of water determined to get through. The snow on the banks of the creek left undisturbed except for the bits of snow tossed from the tree's branches leaving dimples of shadow. This is the picture I always think of when I am missing a Montana winter.
As a child, winter was always comforting. It brought ice-skating everyday. On the weekends my brothers and I would ice skate all day...we lived just across the street from a park where the field of snow would be hosed down with a firehose to make an ice rink. And after a long day out in the cold we would come home to hot cocoa and freshly made donuts as well as a pot of chili on the stove. At night I would lay in bed, all snuggled in under heaps of blankets and listen for the train whistle. On those cold, clear nights the whistle could be heard like it was across the road...not 5 miles away. On these nights the moon would cast light and dark on the blanket of snow in our backyard. I would sit at the window of my bedroom just watching the sparkles of light, and the shadows of the trees until I fell fast asleep ...with all things quiet and still.

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