The first big snowfall has brought out an unsurpassed beauty beyond what I could have imagined. Even the unsentimental, pragmatic Doug ooohs and aaahs about how beautiful the drive to school is, with the road deep in untouched snow and the evergreen boughs laden with white stuff. Mountains that we look out the window and see daily suddenly have taken on new dimensions and we see them with fresh eyes. I took these photos Friday evening as the sun was setting, and the air was aglow with pink light. We got about 8-10 inches of snow during the day (it was just beginning as we headed out the door in the morning). The fascinating thing is that Homer had virtually no snow while we were getting dumped on. Just past mile 10 of McNeil Canyon School the road heads down off the bluff and the elevation cutoff is such that the snow becomes rain. Friday morning it was actually snowing all the way into Homer, but it didn't "stick". The snow "sticks", or stays unmelted beginning at McNeil Canyon School. The temperatures warm up more in Homer, so snow turns to rain and snow gets washed away or melts.
Along with the incredible beauty, the snowfall brings icy roads. Thursday night as I headed home from the Greenhouse Gardening class I am taking at 9:30 p.m. I had only a few feet visibility the last 10 miles home (past the point where the rain turns to snow). Unfortunately, the road in the last 10 miles is narrow with steep dropoffs and no guardrails, many hairpin turns and tight curves and generally challenging driving conditions in the best of times. With virtually no visibility I was down to a crawl since I never knew when another curve would be upon me. I know every curve of that road by now, but when normal landmarks are gone it is a little disorienting. I was guided home by the reflective posts on the side of the road.
Friday morning had its own challenges since the snow was accumulating quickly, so the roads were now slippery, or at least had the threat of slipperyness. Since the stakes are so high (if you go off the road in the dark, down one of the canyons or off the bluff, no one would ever see you down there), I err on the side of being cautious and opt to stay on the road but get places slower if I don't know whether the roads are slippery or not. The elevation change offers its own threat, since somewhere along the way there is often ice, between the snow and the rain. Three busses were sitting on the side of the road putting chains on their tires Friday morning as I headed into town. They have an emergency plan and the roads were bad enough for them to go into action that day.
Such tradeoffs. I love the beauty out here, and if I lived in town in Homer I would never know how different it is out here in the country. Homer is brown and drab to our glorious Christmas-card perfection. I really begin to feel I live in two different worlds as I drive into Homer each day. I am curious to see if the snow will begin to "stick" in Homer like it does up here.