Storm Approaches
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Winter Storm Approaches

"...when we don't live with birds or weather or waves we lose the opportunity to think hard about ourselves, to discover from nature important facts about human nature."
(excerpted from Nancy Lord's, Fishcamp)

An Ode To Departing Snow

November 21, 1998.

It's early morn, about 4:30 a.m. This season's first real snowfall sleeps serenely in the darkness of a November night. It's cold, in the mid twenties, with the soothing brush of light northwesterlies fostering snow slumber. A perfect night for snow sleeping.

I wonder if the early risers among the sleeping flakes can sense the changes this new day promises to bring. Changes that are destined to shorten their heady existence as winter beauties and return them to the mundane world of water molecule. A reverse metamorphosis of sorts - like butterfly to larva.

Perhaps the more alert of their lot observed the red streaked clouds at last eve's sunset. While most of their brethren innocently bathed in the pink hue that spread among them, the more alert, probably more experienced, no doubt muttered the old sailor's adage, "Red sky at night; sailor's delight" and foresaw the sunny day to come. Not a good omen for an early winter snowflake.

Certainly those whose sleep is restless observed the clearing of the night sky. The clouds of their birth moving on with their remaining womb flakes, abandoning their offspring to the vagaries of life outside the storm. A cause for uneasiness.

It is, however, the shifting scramble of dry leaves across their surface that should give the sleeping snow the greatest pause. Dancing with the flakes in the height of the snowstorm, and then settling down to a barely perceptible northerly air driven crawl across the snowpack in the storm's languid aftermath, these last crispy remnants of a season ago now begin to edge nervously northeasterly - gently pushed by a gathering breeze that is backing to the southwest. Surely the savviest of the flakes know the import of this. Backing southweserlies in early winter can only mean the advent of snow's most awesome adversary - above freezing temperatures. Born in the warm bayous of the Gulf, and untarnished by the still unfrozen mid continent across which they traveled, these waves of southerly warm air will soon wash across the Keweenaw snowscape. Emboldened by what promises to be a bright and warming sun, the travelers from the south will surely set in motion the snow metamorphous.

So sleep well my beautiful nighttime neighbors. A new day approaches the eastern horizon, and with it the seeds of your demise. Before another dawn or two most of you will have shed your crystalline garment and returned to the clouds, streams and lakes that are your eternal home. Have hope my friends - it's early winter and as ole sol continues its slow march to winter solstice, the lands will cool, and the winds will blow from the Yukon, not the Gulf. You will return - and we will rejoice!

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