Earlier this week we were snowbound in Colorado. The first storm dropped about 10 inches on our kids’ home in the mountains west of Boulder. The snow piled up on the trees and then fell a second time when the breeze shook the branches. The clouds pulled out the next day, the temperature went into the 50s, and there were a couple of “blue bird” days. However, that was only the first storm.
The second storm mainly hit the open prairie east of the mountains with much less snow up at higher elevations. High winds on the prairie whipped up snowdrifts like those that we commonly get on the Farm. There’s a big difference between the fluffy mountain snow calmly piling up and the roaring prairie snow that gets pounded into hard drifts! And, there may be bare ground right adjacent to the drifts.
There are some things that are the same when you get snowbound in the mountains or out on the plains. When school was canceled recently in the mountains we did the same things that we used to do after a prairie snow storm: card games, board games, comfort food (especially popcorn), comfortable naps, and long nights. Cozy family snow holidays are the same in both landscapes.
But, getting snowbound on the prairie Farm or in the mountains also produces some anxiety. When one of our grandchildren was born 13 years ago, we were out here in the mountains and worried about the newborn youngster. When we were house bound by a blizzard on the Farm several years later, we had the responsibility of frail “oldsters” that gave similar worries. What if the electricity goes off? Do we have enough supplies? Will the stove or furnace keep up with the wind chill? And, deep snow means that the normal outside chores get complicated, even with improved equipment for moving snow.
It’s always been that way. We have letters from our homesteading great-grandmother to her sons in North Dakota that describe a heavy snowfall in southwest Minnesota before World War I. One of the sons who stayed home on the Farm also worked part-time on the railroad shoveling drifts off the tracks. There are no particular family traditions about the Children’s Blizzard of the 1880s or of the hard storms in the 1940s. However, the great-grandchildren do remember a series of winter storms that closed schools for four consecutive weeks in 1962.
So, the nagging anxieties and the snug comforts of being snowbound are the same today as in the past. And, the same spectrum of emotions is experienced in the mountains as out on the prairie Farm.