Hunkering Down

Dearest Rachel –

Nature Seems to Know

As we started out on our customary walk yesterday, Lars wondered aloud what the odds would be of spotting wildlife in the woods over the next few miles and hours. Since we’d seen a few deer last week – and the trees were by now completely denuded, leaving the local fauna with absolutely no cover from us harmless observers – I figured we’d have a better-than-decent chance, but Lars disagreed.

“We won’t see much today,” he said, shaking his head, “they know what’s coming.”

It’s true that a storm has been predicted for today, but until now, I’d taken most of the prognostications with a rather large grain of salt – perhaps even a salt lick, which the deer we had seen barely a week ago would be more than appreciative for. Lately, most predictions of severe snow and accumulation have proven to be decidedly overhyped, as far as I could tell. Indeed, Lars agrees that some in recent memory have been so almost deliberately, going so far as to suggest that some of them might even have been devised to prevent certain specific gatherings from taking place (or at least, being as large as they might otherwise have been).

Personally, I get the need to warn people, even if it requires a little exaggeration. Better to be too prepared for severe weather than not prepared enough, or at all.

Skepticism and Scheduling

On the other hand, if one overestimates the severity of too many storms too often, people start to lose faith in one’s predictions, eventually ignoring them altogether (or, in some cases – there’s a certain stock market guru that comes to mind, offhand – taking the polar opposite approach to what one is predicting). As with the boy crying “wolf,” just because he’s been wrong (or worse, lying – but that generally isn’t the case with the weather) so many times before, doesn’t mean there might not be one, munching on mouthfuls of mutton, as he vainly tries to get our attention this time.

Still, until it arrives, I find myself less than enthusiastic about embracing the panic. Part of this may be due to the fact that I technically have nowhere to go on a given day, and even when I decide each day to show up at the ‘office,’ it’s not like I’m even three miles away from home. Even if traffic is jammed from here to there, it’s not an interminable distance between here and there. Worse comes to worst, I know I’m more than capable of walking back if I need to – not that I expect to need to.

Indeed, I find myself somewhat irritated by other people’s apparent overreactions to what’s been forecast, as it’s wrecked havoc with my schedule (my previous claim about not having to be somewhere or other notwithstanding). Allow me to explain, as I think you’ll find this funny:

Over this past weekend, we’d gotten the schedule for the Christmas Eve service – and more to the point, the rehearsal times (as the performance dates and times were pretty much cast in stone a long time ago – the date, especially). The two suburban locations were on different days, presumably to accommodate scheduling conflicts – and a good thing, too, as our location’s rehearsal was scheduled for Dad’s birthday. I contacted Mike, who’s in charge of the A/V team, and explained the situation, asking if I could simply rehearse with the team at the other location. He agreed to my request, but noted that, since they needed to rehearse their own timing, I might as well just be there to observe. But hey, it all works out, right?

Even better was when, in view of the coming storm, the folks decided to reschedule Dad’s birthday (or rather, the celebration thereof – in truth, you can no more reschedule a birthday than you can reschedule Christmas) for a day earlier. Excellent news! This meant I could rehearse when and where I was scheduled to work! I let Mike know that we were good to go.

Except… the very next morning, he and the rest of the worship staff made essentially the same choice as the folks did. The rehearsal would also be moved up a day to avoid us all having to deal with the weather (as if most of us don’t already have to as part of our daily activities – I’m an exception, not the rule, in not having a job to go to). As a result, thanks to this storm, I was right back where I started, and with no accommodation to allow me to attend practice anywhere.

All this for something I was (at this point) still not convinced was a particularly big deal.

And Here… We… Go!

This morning was grey and overcast, but since when is a day in December not so? Flakes were starting to come down once I finished breakfast, but they weren’t so close together that a careful walker couldn’t avoid being hit by one or another. As I drove to the ‘office,’ I noticed that the ambient external temperature was reading 33°. Based on this, if the temperature was to hold or increase during the day, whatever hit the ground wouldn’t even be likely to stick. In short, it looked like everyone had been panicking over nothing in particular.

And yet… the storm hadn’t been predicted to arrive until noon, which meant that the “if” statement I just uttered above wasn’t necessarily guaranteed, despite the fact that this is how a normal day might go, weather-wise. So it’s too soon for me to claim any sort of victory, moral or otherwise. Nor do I intend to; on the assumption that it is going to get bad by early afternoon, I ask the folks to keep me posted on what they see outside while I’m downstairs.

However, I’m still having too much fun working on your pictures to just drop everything upon getting one or another warning from them about what it looks like outside (“You’re going to need boots and a snowbrush when you go out there…!” Well, I have the second; will that be enough?). By the time I’ve decided I’ve had enough, and might want to consider making my way upstairs, it’s nearly two in the afternoon, those same two hours into this theoretical storm. From what I’m hearing, I’m expecting to be eating my words.

And this is what I walk out to. No offense, but this is little more than a light dusting. And while I could use my snowbrush on my windshield, the wiper blades aren’t bothered by this in the least.

On the other hand, you know the old line about how “the first big snow hits, and everyone forgets how to drive?” Yeah, there was a bit of that, even at two in the afternoon, when there wouldn’t be a whole lot of traffic to deal with. Even I was feeling it, with an occasional skid or two. But I got home safely, with little change in my circumstances along the way.

In fact, the snowfall is so light that a.) you can’t see it falling in the shot, and b.) what has fallen is still little enough that you could see the individual blades of grass if I had good enough resolution on this camera

And that’s about it; once home, I determined that Daniel and I would need to hunker down for whatever nature had in store to throw at us, and I would get back to you with the results later. After all, just because everything was reasonably clear at two didn’t mean that by, say, six, we wouldn’t be dealing with a massive amount of snow and I’d need to eat my words about being skeptical. Besides, my last letter was pretty late, too, so you wouldn’t be getting impatient for my next missive.

With that in mind, here at 6:30 are the conditions on the ground:

A fairly peaceful winter scene, to be sure, complete with the lack of traffic on our normally busy road. However, I dare say that the snow could be cleared just as easily with a sufficiently heavy-duty broom as a shovel.

At this rate, I could wait all night for a sufficient amount of snow to make it worth my effort to get out there and shovel. Back when Chompers was still with us, I’d have made a point to get some of it done while he needed to be out there. But now? I can’t work up the motivation to deal with this. We’ll be able to roll over this just fine tomorrow.

Still, it’s worth asking you to keep an eye on the two of us, and for you to wish us luck. We may yet need it, all the same.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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