Sunday, January 25, 2015


Weather: Snow Wednesday and Thursday.

What’s still green: Juniper, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas. Rose stems; leaves on grape hyacinth, Japanese honeysuckle, alfilerillo.

What’s gray: Salt bushes, winterfat, snow-in-summer.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach, apricot, apple and sandbar willow; purple aster leaves.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe and weeping willows; arborvitae have browned.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds.

Weekly update: The magic has passed. For a few days snow was beyond vocabulary. Everything was its opposite.

The sun rose in the west

and set in the east.

It began Wednesday with a few large flakes that turned to something so small it might have been snow turning into water as it fell. It kept coming down, but not accumulating. It sank into the ground and wetted every surface.

Late in the afternoon, when light was failing but the needle hadn’t moved on the thermometer, it began accumulating.

Through the night, snow fell on wet surfaces that must already have turned to ice. When the weather service forecast heavy snow it was thinking about the density of flakes in the air. For the plants, heavy snow meant a burden.

In places deciduous branches collected snow and didn’t allow it to penetrate.

In the morning, the wood’s warmth began melting the coat from within. Drips formed. Birds escaped to fences and overhead lines.

Even yesterday when I drove by orchards, their floors still covered with snow, each tree stood in a circle of brown of its own making.

The weather bureau said, when the snow had moved on late Thursday, the skies would be clear and the night cold because little of the snow pack had disappeared. It was four degrees when I looked at thermometer on my front porch Friday morning.

In a few hours, branches furred over.

The sun rose higher in the sky. Its rays bounced off the metal roof. Surface heat melted snow that drained over the edge. On its way down, the warmed water was rechilled. Plants below were encased in ice.

Physicists describe it as an interplay of water, temperature, and light. When all else fails the weather bureau resorts to "unknown precipitation." By Saturday, Shy and Guyer and whoever else works in the Albuquerque office were concerned with variations on fog that would cloud visibility.

I looked out over the Jémez. It was just before temperatures warmed enough to create bogs over frozen ground. Snow was rising from Santa Clara canyon.

Photographs: Thursday was the 22nd, Friday the 23rd, and Saturday the 24th.

1. Thursday 7:47 am, looking east.
2. Thursday 5:54 am, peach and bird.
3. Friday 7:07 pm, looking west.
4. Thursday 5:30 am, looking east.
5. Thursday 7:50 am, Apache plume.
6. Friday 7:54 am, black locust.

7. Thursday 7:52 am, rose stem.
8. Saturday 3:26 pm, looking west.
9. Friday 7:09 am.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Beautiful! I was skiing in Angel Fire Wednesday and loved the huge snow flakes that fell in perfect star shapes.