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In Central Nevada, there are two winters; the calendar one and the real one. It never fails to amaze me that I’m tired of winter before it officially gets here, which is on or around Dec. 23.

In a perfect world we’d be raking leaves in autumn and shoveling snow in winter, but in Austin it usually works out that we rake leaves in the summer, shovel snow in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, and shovel snow in the spring.

An old buckaroo once told me “if you don’t get snow in the country, you’re a dead coyote,” letting me know that snow is not an inconvenience here, it’s a necessity. The high country needs several feet in order to sustain the ecology year-round, and if the mountain peaks aren’t still white on July 4th, it’s likely to be a tough year for the life forms around here. Which, on a good day at least, includes me. So it would seem that I have a personal stake in getting lots of snow, and I spend the entire winter telling myself that, over and over.

The first snow of the season, when the cars disappear beneath a foot of snow in the driveway, I am totally convinced that this is a good thing, and I tell myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if it did this every single day for the next five months?”


The snow is wet and heavy, and it doesn’t push off the car easily. I have to turn the broom edgewise and cut into the snow, like slicing ham, but I can only scrape away maybe a foot at a time, so I have to make a lot of slices.

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening…”

The snow that I slice off the roof and the trunk and the hood has to go somewhere, so it piles up around the car in a sort of a siege ring. If you don’t shovel that away before you step in it, it packs down beneath your feet and makes it more difficult to get rid of.

“…through the lane, snow is glistening…”

Too bad. I haven’t got all day. I try to shovel away what I have to in order to get to the driver’s side door, but the snow sticks to the shovel and won’t slide off when I toss it, nearly pulling me into the bank with it. I have to stop and go inside to find Pam, and I come back out and spray the face of the shovel so the snow will slide off.

“…I’d smile with delight…”

I clear away enough snow so I can get the door open, and a handful of snow drops squarely into the center of the driver’s seat. The first few times that happened I figured I missed some snow on the roof or around the door somewhere, but I’ve since found that isn’t the case; no matter how clear the area is, one handful of snow always drops into the driver’s seat.

“…but my face is froze tight…”

I get in and start the car, bringing with me a bucket of snow that drops off my boots and starts to puddle almost immediately. I turn the defroster fan on high and turn on the rear window defogger, as if that’ll do any good. Then I get out and shovel the worst of the snow from around the rear of the car so there’s at least a chance of backing out and turning around.

“…walking in a winter wonderland.”

And there you have it. Well, there you have some of it, anyway. Well, there you have the first morning of the first day, at least. Actually, that’s about as good as it gets for the next few months.

But there’s always this; come summertime, far off in the future next year, I’m going to be one lively coyote.

Note: Jim has since gone home to be with the Lord. His daughter now manages his blog, repurposing articles he had written throughout his life with the hopes that he continues to live on through his words. Jim brought joy, love and laughter to everyone who knew him and is dearly loved and missed every single day.

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