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" …to those affecting the flat American dialect, … I'm forever Smaltz and The Muse, Swab …"

The rumor starts a few days before. By the time it becomes a genuine forecast signified by the red triangle with the exclamation point inside, it's already arrived. Our behavior changes long before the first snow falls, though. I'm up and out, driving in pre-dawn darkness to the closest supermarket to restock the larder lest we get snowed in and starve. Neither The Muse nor I have been in any real danger of starvation since Reagan was President, but one never knows. I suspect that vestigial memories linger from that terrible Autumn of 1804 when our ancestors barely survived to carry forward our DNA. We know how to prepare for snow.

I try to talk The Muse out of going into the lab today, thinking myself just acting prudently.
One fewer car on the road trying to navigate around the traffic jam caused by just one more car on the road. The routes up into our foothills do not include a not-steep alternative, and steep will quickly turn into slippery, and slippery into simply shut it down. The traffic here knows only one universal speed, catalogued as 'way too fast for present conditions.' At first I thought the hive mind that controls all traffic flow must certainly know better, but I've since abandoned that childish notion. The hive mind seems to love swarming and slow-motion spinouts into roadside snow. It must think it rather like ballet. I'm no dancer, but The Muse will take the car down and so take her chances returning home.

Of course the morning of, the snow hasn't fallen yet. The weather report promises some accumulation between three and nine inches between this afternoon and tomorrow morning. Sometimes the snow falls all night and hardly touches the ground. Other times, everything ends up ground to an absolute halt. Nobody ever knows for sure, and even knowing hardly amounts to anything like adequate preparation. Whenever it arrives and however it accumulates, it will be a surprise, another thief in the night. My eyes cannot seem to imagine yet what this snowfall might beget. I will fuss over today like a cranky caretaker, tending fire and soaking posole, keeping my weather eye focused outside, a proud prospective father of another narrowly-avoided catastrophe. Never fully prepared. Eternally preparing because one never, ever really knows.

I will watch with genuine wonder, for I've yet to unwrap snowfall's mystery. It seems simply miraculous to me, and so utterly unlikely. I feel especially gifted to witness its arrival, to welcome it back onto its ancestral stomping grounds. It mostly avoided us last winter, leaving the Continental Divide bare naked through more than a third of the year and everyone downstream wondering where else their water might come from. Frosted lace, filled with grace, transcending what we know. In the German-settled regions of this country, they pronounce every word beginning with an 's' as if it began with an 'sch.' Snow is Schknow, with only the 'k' mute. Sky is sch-ky. Schmaltz and Schwab translate perfectly there except to those affecting the flat American dialect, to whom I'm forever Smaltz and The Muse, Swab, and SchKnow, rather stupid-sounding snow.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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