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Anytime the old cowboy was asked about the latest and greatest winter storm, he only had one answer. “It was just an ol’ equinoxer, I tell ya.”
He didn’t launch into any meteorological explanation, make any excuses about causes, or otherwise rant and rave about the unusually severe snowstorm, gray, overcast days, or the melt-and-pour warm weather that precedes some of the strongest storms. Valley residents set the tone, with the smug little smile and an “it-is-what-it-is-attitude.”
I can always count on a couple of columns between January and June that include the usual complaints about the winter weather. Whether it is the snow piling up (or not piling up), the slick black ice underneath fresh snow, the slush, or any other variety of seasonal conditions.
What is it about the cold weather that turns people into such weather-story badgers? They begin to hoard the little morsels of worst weather stories, until they pile up like crumbs in the kitchen corner to be swept away with a lot of grumbling. Spitting and hissing at the other badgers, who dare to steal one morsel, they get a little testy.
Two residents were bickering the other day, as they exchanged outlandish weather tales, claiming to remember the absolutely worst winter of the season. Outdoing themselves with tales of trucks not starting because of the below-zero temperatures and fingers and toes almost to the point of falling off with frostbite, they took such pleasure in topping the other one’s story. It wasn’t until they turned around to walk back to their vehicles, I saw two teenagers, who had spent at most seventeen or eighteen winters here.
Anyone who spends time reading this newspaper’s old-time news column “Days Gone By” can tell you one or two weather story toppers. The 45 below zero days upriver one January and a February spring thaw that produced huge blocks of ice going down the White River and subsequent flooding are only a few of the samples.
The standard conversation starter, “You ain’t seen nothing yet” is already in play this year, as most of us begin to yearn for spring. We know better than to think that winter will be short. Newcomers are always amazed by the length of the season, yet it never hits them that the old saw, “Spring is just around the corner” doesn’t work in northwestern Colorado.
It might be best to revert to that old cowboy’s assertion, It’s just an ol’ equinoxer, that’s what it is!”