Sunday, April 27, 2014

Climate Change

Pam and I endured our first northern winter as a married couple in Pittsburgh. Cabin fever hit us hard by late February, so when we finally began seeing a few warm days in March, we decided to celebrate spring with a weekend road trip.

It would have been a fine idea, except we headed north to Niagara Falls, where overnight lows were still in the 20s or worse. The falls themselves were frozen almost to their tops. 

It was a spectacle worth seeing to be sure, but not when we were longing for a Maypole dance. Thirty five years later, it’s all coming back to me, because it feels like we’ve done it again.

We left Mexico a few weeks earlier than planned this year because it was starting to get a little bit steamy in the late afternoons. Also, our friend Becky at the Ruidoso Chamber of Commerce kept posting tasty photos of Sierra Blanca looking springish. (No great trick in evergreen country.}

I began wondering on the road if we’d jumped the gun when we got to Saltillo and realized it was too chilly for flipflops. To find long-sleeved garments we had to grope to the bottom of the duffle that wasn’t even supposed to leave the car until the end of the trip.

Saltillo is about 5,200 feet above sea level. Here in Ruidoso we are now 2,000 feet higher. I am not writing this from our deck, which like the mountain out the window looks inviting in the morning sunlight but lies.

The thermometer nailed to a tree on the gravel drive is still clawing its way toward 40. At least we can go to the closet here for the right clothes, and we’ve got a fireplace.

But it’s not the temperature I wanted to whine about. You can’t very well keep a mountain cabin for the coolness and then complain that you have to wear socks. (Socks!) It’s the wind that has taken us by surprise.

Yesterday it blew a constant 35 miles per hour with frequent gusts to 60. Today promises to be the same or worse. The pines roar and gyrate. Deadfall branches skitter across the street. The swing set and hammock swing by themselves. The cheery double pinwheel I planted in the yard spins to a blur and then snaps off and away down the hill.

Chiquita the skinny little chihuahua stiffens her legs and rolls her eyes when it’s time to go outside and can’t get down to business when we carry her out the door. I think it’s the wind, but of course you can’t discount the chance she’s distracted by novel smells. Such as bear scat.

How could we have prevented this?

Well for starters, it wasn’t so hard to go online for my wind report. We might consider checking our destination weather before the trip instead of after.

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