I don’t mean to whine, but what winter?

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining here, but what is it with all this rain in December?  Does Anchorage not have any idea at all about how to do winter?

I look out at the street in front of my house and instead of those lovely brown snow berms, I see four inches of ice so smooth you could hold Olympic tryouts on it.  The mud that I associate with spring break up is a Christmas phenomenon here.

At the risk of sounding like a displaced bush rat, let me just say that in the bush we know how to do winter.  When we have single digit temperatures, we consider it good weather because it means its risen above 10 below.  When we have “winter storms”, they involve howling winds and blinding snow.  When you put your mud boots away in September, you are 99.9% sure that you will not need them before the middle of May.

I was trying to call a North Slope Borough office last week and was told that they were closed due to a storm.  Suddenly I was very homesick.  All I had to do was close my eyes and I was back in my cozy little home in Barrow with the wind blowing, the snow falling horizontally, visibility limited to the end of my nose and my dog refusing to go out for 15 hours at a time.  Now that’s the way winter should happen. 

The snow would drift to the top of my garage door.  Planes wouldn’t land and people’s business and vacation plans would be thrown into disarray.  My back would hurt from shoveling out my driveway.  The paper would not arrive for three days…hmm, maybe this nostalgia thing for winter storms is clouding my vision a bit to their reality.

My friends who are longtime Anchorage residents swear that this weather is highly unusual and that there is almost always snow on the ground at Christmas. Some of my more superstitious friends claim the only reason Anchorage doesn’t have four foot of snow already is that I insisted on putting my snow tires on in October.

Despite the beauty of the (somewhat) snow covered mountains that surround Anchorage, I can’t quite get rid of my longing for the tundra.  I guess we all have to decide what ultimately defines beauty for us and for me it is the sight of the tundra after the snow has fallen and the sun is shinning on it. The view is so sharp and distant that you’re pretty sure you can see tomorrow.

I’d walk with Mr. T down Fresh Water Lake Road after a storm and before the road was plowed out enough for cars to drive on it.  The silence was broken only by the sound of me huffing and puffing as I tried to walk through, over and around the drifts. Each time my feet would break through and I’d find myself waist deep in snow, Mr. T would come bounding up the drift to stare in utter disgust at a creature so big she couldn’t prance across the top of it.

My friend keeps telling me that winter here will improve and I will soon see its beauty. She lives on Hillside so I’ve already had a glimpse into the magic that snow creates there.  Now if we could just convince the snow gods to let that happen here in the bowl, maybe this homesickness would abate and I’d be able to find the beauty of an Alaskan winter in Anchorage.  Or maybe the tundra will just never really leave my soul.