Summer Blizzard

As I pass the time on the verandah of the New Orleans apartment I review the morning news over a steaming café au lait in the muggy post storm air, listening to the swish of the verdant pecan tree foliage across the rutted street.  Devastating wild fires in various regions of the country, massive hurricanes tearing through the overly warm waters of the gulf, Napa in flames, Puerto Rico cut off from the world, New Orleans with an unusual October hurricane that shut down the whole city on a Saturday night, what runs through my head is “I can’t remember there ever being a hurricane in October….”. I also can’t remember there ever being a summer blizzard in drought ridden California.

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Global warming for some is a political catch phrase, a path to elicit much needed funding, a potential motive for mass hysteria, an easily used scape goat to deny things that aren’t beneficial to your businesses bottom line.  To me at this moment it is simply what is actually happening.

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It feels odd to be sitting here and seeing the real physical outcome of years and years of ignored warnings.  It seems like when scientists are advising you that global warming equals a rise in temperature, which equals bigger storms, that what runs through your head is “Well that’s going to happen sometime…to someone else”.

As I observe and reflect on the succession of things that have happened just this one summer you start to realize you are living in a science fiction film and that sometime is now.

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Having grown up in New Orleans a town infamous for the most famous hurricane of all you rarely saw a storm bigger than a category 3.  You never saw multiple category 5’s lined up in succession one after each other like children in line on the playground of adolescence.  In the historic tragedy of Galveston and the aftermath of Katrina we never would have imagined a storm that broke out above the actual categories.

As summer unwound itself in a virtual wave of natural disasters, an unclassified rating of Category 6 was something it’s waterlogged southerners had never dreamed of.  Just like in all my years of traveling to the Sierra Nevadas I’d never heard of a full on blizzard in summer…until now.

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Not to say these things have never happened historically, or couldn’t just be freak weather patterns, but it does cause alarm to see them all happening at once in a live and in person replay of every fictional end of days movie ever produced.

Since the temperatures were dipping rather ahead of schedule we wanted to make sure to get our wood stocked up early.  The menacing dead tress behind the cabin had finally been felled and since the weight of them was too heavy to take across the old Twin Lakes bridge the logging company had left them for us to use.

It was very exciting to arrive at the cabin and see these stacks of timber lined up all around the cabin waiting to be chopped!  We wouldn’t need to purchase wood in town this year or for the next couple years to come, we just had to “log” in some hours of manual labor in another round of cabin boot camp…!

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Having purchased my first real axe I was very excited to be getting into the swing of things so to speak….

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After some trial and error with the swing and trying not to chop a foot off I discovered that there are few things more satisfying than the swish and crack of hitting the log just right and taking the blade straight through the block.  It became an almost addictive high and a desperate desire to get that perfect swing in again.

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We live in such a modern society where very few people get to experience the joy and satisfaction of accomplishing something with just your hands and force of will.  I’m so grateful for these moments where I feel like I have this singular purpose of just completing a simple task and feeling useful.

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Having spent the first 24 hours at the cabin chopping and stacking wood I was ready to give my arms and back a break and had planned a hike or bike ride for the last official day of summer.  The weather service had mentioned that we might get a dusting of snow in the morning and I was delighted to actually be there for the first snowfall of the season, albeit a month earlier than expected.  We awoke to not a dusting but a full on winter blizzard!

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The dusting quickly became inches and the powder kept falling for the rest of the day and into the night.  I wondered if the campers in the adjacent campground when they awoke to the inches of snow were excited by the unexpected winter wonderland they awoke to or annoyed by the wet gear and changed plans.

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This snowy September marked the two year anniversary of cabin ownership and in those two years only a handful of friends have made it up for a visit.  Outside of the long drive the question I always hear first is “Does the cabin have wifi?”.  It’s so hard to step outside of our daily lives and routine, step away from our cell phones, televisions, computer monitors, and simply live in a different more simple time for just a minute and experience the incredible joy of a perfect axe swing.

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