Sunday, January 24, 2010

big snow

Productivity on my house has been curtailed this week by BIG SNOW. This season so far has been incredibly mild and we've been lucky to get to work through so much of the winter, but this week was different.

I'm sorry for the poor quality of this picture, but I didn't have my camera when I trudged in through 2.5 feet of new snow to get some tools at the building site. I took this picture with my phone:

Big snow like this is a whole-body experience. It fills up your every sense (as well as your snow boots).

:: It SOUNDS like quiet and hush; heavy moisture mutes all sound. But when you stop to listen, there are birds, incredibly enough. You also hear the insect drone of snowmobiles and diesel putter of snow plows all up and down the canyon going strong. And when you live just minutes from two ski resorts like I do, there's the jarring staccato of endless rounds of dynamite launches and the thundering reverberations of the avalanches the dynamite triggers, clearing the danger for paying customers in bounds at the ski resort. It can sound a bit like a war zone at times.

:: It LOOKS like endless whiteness. All texture is swallowed by deep snow. Tracks are covered in minutes. It becomes hard to discern up and down. The air around you even becomes a nondescript gray mass and it becomes difficult to judge distance.

:: It SMELLS crisp and clean. Not so metallic as a rainstorm because there's not the ozone in the air from the lightning. It's hard to smell anything very well, though, because sometimes your nose hairs sort of freeze together. It smells washed clean. The clean smell gets interrupted, however, by clouds of fumes from snowmobiles and snowplows.

:: It TASTES like cold and wet, so feathery you almost don't notice it landing on your tongue. There are few pleasures more primally satisfying than catching falling snow on your tongue.

:: It FEELS like moving in a dry lake. Snow is of course made of water, but the snow in my part of Utah is "dry." There is lots of air between the flakes, which creates our famous Utah powder which is so fun to ride. I think the moisture content of typical powder snow is something like 3 or 4%, meaning if you melt a full 3 gallon bucket of snow you wind up with about 1 cup of water. So, the snow is somewhat dry, but it also doesn't have any holding power. So you sink to your thighs and waist in the untrodden. Moving in big Utah snow is a little like swimming in a dry, cold lake with 4 layers of clothing and big boots on. It's very hard work!

We are supposed to continue getting more snow this week, but just little snow. Not Big snow. So, hopefully I can get right back at it.

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