The View from Mattie’s Pillow

Global What?

After the last post about the lovely time Mattie, Sam, and I had free-longeing in the deep dry snow, we in the Interior have been hit with two days of rain, fog, and ice.  While this kind of drippy weather is common in the Pacific Northwest, it’s unheard of here in the usually frozen north.  Our ground has been frozen for more than a month now, and the frost line is well below the surface.  What this means for us is that the rain on the roads turns snow first to slush, then to a thick layer of ice.  Everything—tree branches, fences, even horse manure—is coated with a slick clear layer of it.  It’s lovely in some ways, but it’s shut down the whole town and surrounding area for two days and counting.  The long-term forecast has it continuing until Wednesday night—too late for last minute Thanksgiving shopping.

The good news is that we just stayed home—then heard that even the university had cancelled classes, something that has never happened in my experience, even during periods of 60 below.  Articles in our local newspaper, the Daily News-Miner, show cars in ditches and the slick shine of ice on the roads.  Friends are calling and Facebooking each other to see how they’re holding up.  One friend is nearly out of coffee.  Another reports that a small willow fell on her mother’s car.  A third is tying on her and her sweetie’s ice skates, headed out to play hockey in the road.

Last night, we were settled in the living room with our laptops—remember the days when it would have been books?—when we heard a buzzing hum and saw a flash of green light out the window.  We looked at each other.

“What was that?” I asked.  The power stayed on, but, as usual, I thought of the horses and went out to check on them.  Sam, the watch horse, was standing outside the run-in shed, looking off up the hill behind me.  I went and checked them and took them a bit of hay to encourage them to stay in the shed.  Their coats were wet, but they didn’t seem cold.  On the way back in, I unplugged the water tank heater, still not sure what the strange light had been.  The snow was soggy with rain and a few small birches arched over the cutbank, glistening with ice.

Beck inside, I settled in once again, picking up the book, Horses in Human History. Suddenly we heard the sound again and saw the flash.  I pulled on my rubber muck boots and Mike put on his coat, and we opened the door.  The whole sky lit up green and the buzzing was louder than ever.  It seemed to be coming from up the hill where there is a power line cut running through the woods.  We called the electric co-op and learned that there were power outages everywhere and that they had just cut off power to that line.

Up until that point, I admit, it had been kind of fun—a bit of an extended holiday.  After that we thought of all the trees on our hill, how we lose a couple every summer in a windstorm.  Neither of us wanted to go to sleep, and when we did, it was with one ear open to the sounds of trees thumping.

Today, all’s well, but soggy.  I am headed out to the corral to put a waterproof blanket on Sam—more for my comfort than for his.  I’m planning alternative Thanksgiving dinners, since I don’t plan on driving out to shop—and the Seattle airport is hit with snow, as well, which means empty shelves for us.  We’ll have chicken and pecan pie, cranberry sauce from frozen cranberries, mashed potatoes from the buckets of potatoes stored in spruce shavings in our yet-unfinished tack room, and maybe some purple cabbage that’s out there, too.

By Thursday, temperatures are supposed to head back to normal for us—below zero.  All this slush will turn into glaciers. We’ll be chipping away at it for the rest of winter—an icy footing under the rest of winter’s snow.

And I’m wondering where this all is heading.  This weather blew over to us from Siberia, and it stretches the length of our state—Prudhoe to Anchorage—nearly 800 miles.  It sounds like the tail end of it is hitting the Pacific Northwest—so it’s possibly a 2000-mile weather system following a changing pattern of wind currents here in the North.  While the thought of the Interior developing weather like Alberta, as I heard once on NPR, has some appeal to a horse lover, the process of getting from here—the boreal forest, the deep cold of winters, the lovely dry air—to there is not a magical transformation, and means the loss of more than  just trees and grassland.

I’m not a scientist, but I know scientists here working on problems related to global warming—fish diseases, melting ice lenses, sea ice retreat, insects killing the boreal forest.  Things are out of whack, and we are just beginning to grapple with what it takes to think and act our way through it.

Meanwhile, coffee’s on.  I’m going to wrap this up and go dry off Sam, then settle in for a good game of Scrabble.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: