Thursday, January 19, 2017


I always had a snowsuit and a warm winter coat.

When I was growing up, November and December were cold months, with or without snow. But it was a given that we would have snow at some point during the winter, and sometimes quite a lot of it. And in January we might have a spell of temps above freezing, which my parents called the “January thaw.” And if they called it that, it must have been a phenomenon of some frequency. I hadn’t thought of that phrase in years, but yesterday as I watched the ice and snow turn to water and run down our driveway, it came to mind.

The weather in the Lewis-Clark Valley is generally milder than in my hometown of Orofino some 40 miles east and at a higher altitude, but nevertheless, winter just isn’t what it used to be 50 years ago. In fact, it’s mild enough here that locals call it the “banana belt” and the Chamber of Commerce loves to promote the valley as a place to “golf year-round.”

Well, not this year. This year we’ve already had a hard winter. According to the Lewiston Tribune (Wed., Jan. 18), between Dec. 1 and Jan. 16, snow accumulation at the airport was 23.8 inches. Last year at this time, snow measurement was 6.2 inches and the average is 4.9 inches. Along with this exceptional snowfall, we’ve had three cold spells with lows in the single digits and highs in the 20s, which ensured plenty of ice under the snow. Walking was treacherous. Bird-hunting was curtailed. Meetings were cancelled. People stayed inside.

The wind blew in a big tumbleweed.
But between Tuesday and Wednesday, the wind began to blow and bring warmer temps. And the wind blew out the pilot of our water heater. Fortunately, we became aware early in the day that the water wasn’t hot. Unfortunately, dealing with it – and the clean-up – seemed to usurp what remained of the day.

You see, we keep an old chest of drawers in the closet where the hot water tank is located. The chest serves as storage for envelopes, obsolete computer cords and accessories, records, etc. But it’s in the way when the hot water tank needs attention, so we had to take the chest out of the closet, which necessitated removing the drawers, and then we decided we should get rid of stuff stored in the drawers, and that led to shredding documents.

With warmer temps, snow and ice rapidly disappeared.
The chest is nothing special. It was purchased during WWII when goods available to citizens were poorly constructed. I suggested we just empty it, hit it with an ax, and use the pieces for kindling, but that was a bigger process than we could wrap our heads around. In the end, the chest went back into the closet, albeit with much tidier drawers. KW

1 comment:

Chuck said...

You have tumbleweeds as large as ours. What do you do with them? I try to stuff them into the garbage container, but they don't stuff very well. I remember the snow of '48-'49, when we got 18 inches of snow, which I had to shovel before bedtime. I got up and there was another 18 inches, which I had to shovel before I went to school. They didn't have snow days in that era. If the country kids couldn't make it in because the buses couldn't make it, the town kids went anyway (and built snowmen). Winters were fun.