Sunday, January 22, 2017

Buried. Our Mountain Hamlet Is Under Siege.

At first, the snow was our savior in a world afflicted with drought. It will fill the lake and water the Central Valley farmland next summer. But right now, it's our nemesis.

All we see is white.

Multiple feet in the beginning of January. Ten feet a week ago. Two feet early this week. Six feet in the last 48 hours. Three more feet predicted by Monday. Yes, we live in a particularly snowy micro-climate near Echo Summit. But all of Tahoe is getting hammered. The West Shore particularly, from Squaw and Alpine to Christmas Valley, is getting buried.

Last week, we were snowed in for three days and were without power for 36 hours in one stretch in addition to two smaller stretches. We lived by candlelight and cooked on the wood stove. And we're among the lucky ones. Many others have been without power for much longer. (Given this weather and the number of trees that have fallen on power lines, it's amazing how well the crews do in keeping the electricity flowing to our houses and businesses!)

Two days ago, a huge ice/snow chunk slid down our roof and ripped off the support for the wood stove chimney pipe. No more auxiliary heat or cooking. Until that gets fixed, it's going to be peanut butter sandwiches when the power goes out.

The snow piled up so high on our new van that it caved in the roof. Decks and shallow roofs everywhere are in danger of collapse.

As of this moment that I'm writing on early Saturday morning, we have power and we are very thankful for that. But we are snowed in again. We can't see out our windows because the snow, even after the constant compression/settling, is up to roof level. Looking out our front door, we see a wall of snow. It's like shoveling a tunnel. I take small little scoops and attempt to throw them straight up ten feet.

Outside, the morning sun has yet to rise. But the forest is lit with flashes of light as they blast on Echo Summit, doing avalanche control, hoping to re-open the road. Seconds after each flash comes a house-shaking blast as the shock wave boom shatters the snowy peace in the forest. A friend who served two tours in Vietnam once visited during avalanche control and said he was having flashbacks.

I remember our first big snow year after we moved here. It was the winter of 92-93. I heard a ski resort spokesman on the radio. He said, "The good news is, we have fifteen feet of new snow! The bad news is, you can't get here from anywhere!" It's like that now, only more so.

For weeks, we've been continuously shoveling the walk outside our front door. But when the sun rose Saturday morning, this is what the view outside our front door looked like.

Someday, the rotary plow will come up our hill and we'll rejoin the world. Someday, the sun will come out and stay out. Someday, the songbirds will arrive again and sing their arias.

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