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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Snowing in Northern California

Quick, Maude! Buy Milk and Bread!

By Andrew Hamilton
Junto Travel Writer

Three feet of snow this last 36 hours or so. Still, the big storm is supposed to be tonight and tomorrow, which bodes unwelcome because tomorrow is Sunday and it will probably continue to snow over the Monday, and the county doesn't have money to pay overtime to the snowplow drivers.

They graded the county road nice and wide this morning, so they might be able to catch up on Tuesday. This snow has been light and fluffy, it pushes off the deck like whipped cream, so all will be well if it stays cold and we don't get wet snow or rain on top of it. It was such nice snow that I dug a walking trench out the the covered wood-pile, and another one to the burn-barrel, and I even cleaned off the back steps.

Mail hasn't come for four days, probably because CalTrans, caught in the budget crisis, hasn't plowed the snow away from the mail-boxes, and it's pretty deep there so the mailman would have to get out and trudge through it ten feet or so to put the mail in the mail-box. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, sure, but two feet of slag off the edge of the state snow plow, that's another story.

I dropped by the post office, which is closed today, to see if there was an announcement. Dolly, the postmistress, was moving around inside there, So I stood for a while outside the glass doors where she could see me forlornly looking at the bulletin board and maybe invite me in to get my Netflix envelope. I would have knocked but there is probably a USPS rule against serving me, and if she isn't married then she's one of the few potentially available old ladies in the north lake area, and I don't want to burn any bridges.
From the post-office bulletin board, I learned that the Forest Service owns the borrow-pit at the bottom of Lake Grove Drive and doesn't want people to dump "vegetative waste" there any more, nor will citizens be allowed to borrow rock from there without written permission from the government.

Lake Grove Drive is the next drainage downstream from here, populated by a bunch of low-lifes because they have grid electricity, the lazy man's way to satellite TV service. The Forest Service softened the blow, or justified it by claiming that the borrow-pit is a potential LZ for the helicopter ambulance, and so let's keep it clear.

Also on the post-office bulletin board were something about the Frenchman Creek school board meeting, and a poster advertising the latest concealed-carry class. For all the rampant liberalism you hear about in California, this is still a western state, and the county sheriffs can issue concealed firearms permits so long as you take the class first. This latest sheriff has won two or three elections, and I suppose he's trading votes for carry permits.

For some reason your woods-dwelling yahoo, who will probably never see a scary inner-city home-boy like those guys on TV, deeply feels the need to tote a hidden pistol. The sheriff seems like an OK guy --- I saw him last summer glad-handing citizens up at the Frenchman Creek Store. The only way I could tell he was the sheriff was he was wearing a polo shirt with his name and office embroidered over the pocket, a big advance over these guys who don't go anywhere without SWAT-team gear.

Skiing out the front door was good Thursday and yesterday but too deep and soft this morning and too fast on the drive down into here where a downhill neighbor and his minions snow-blew it only one tractor-width wide so there was no room to turn and slow down. Last night I skied down to my next neighbor's just down the drive, and saw they were there, there was a foot-track pushed through the snow and smoke coming out the chimney, which explained the extra truck parked up at the county road.

This morning when I went up to the county road to go to the Sasquatch they had dug out their truck and were just leaving. These summer people! They probably came for the three-day weekend but big, storm coming, no balls, time to scarper. I could see by their tracks in the snow that they were wearing those ice chains you strap onto your boots. Those would come in handy in a couple of weeks if it rains on this stuff and then freezes. To be fair, they may be coming back, and if I had a place in the Bay Area with TV reception and gas heat I'd be right behind them myself.

The local market up the state highway has been owned by a recent immigrant from the flatlands this past two or three years. This guy was on the front page of the newspaper a while back because he won $15,000 in a blackjack tournament in Reno. This week's paper featured him bitching and moaning because he got turned down for a small business disaster loan he applied for because it was miserable smokey all summer from the forest fires and the tourists didn't come.

There was hardly anybody buying the incredibly expensive stale crackers in the market all summer except locals. I got a 20 percent off flyer in the mailbox this fall and redeemed it on some potato chips and onion soup and sour cream. I usually restrict my major purchases there to potato chips because the price is printed on the package at the factory and they can't double it.

The shop's proprietor doesn't like me much ever since I asked him to tell Andy, the UPS driver, to not deliver my stuff to the market, but deliver it to me the way he's paid to do, and he got excited and told me in an inappropriately histrionic manner that he has no authority over the UPS driver, which I knew to begin with. Plus, I caught him a couple of months ago loading up on stuff off the shelves at Winco Foods in Redding.

It was sort of like catching him doing, I won't say it, something embarrassing, so even though we exchange no words about it we have this ugly memory between us when I go in there, as I did today to buy a half-gallon of milk for the coming snow-in. In addition to which, he now knows that I shop at Winco Foods instead of supporting his market. I used to go into there every few days to buy tobacco products. But, since I stopped smoking, I hardly ever have to face him.
Today he was sitting behind the pay counter with his feet up on the window sill, gave me the no-smile civil greeting when I came in. He knew it was me because he could spot me out the window as I skidded up, so he didn't have to change expression . Of course, there is no life lesson here, since he deals with a lot of people besides me, and is a valued member of the community, which designation I have so far effectively shirked.

OK, 4:18 pm and it's snowing hard, which is exactly what the Weather Service sent the warning about. I haven't ever seen snow like this anywhere.

Yo, I'm not a global warming denialist, buy I am an honourably retired US Department of the Interior scientist who used to work with the sorts of numeric modeling that are designed to predict hydrologic events, but don't predict much more than an arthritic hip would. There's been a glacier growing on the mountain up here behind me for the last three years. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't advise anyone to sell his snow blower, although just to be safe you might still want to move back from the sea-shore

(Andrew Hamilton is a Junto travel correspondent who lives in a small town in Northern California, the exact locale of which is unbeknownst to the Editor).