Sunday, April 23, 2006
Springtime in Colorado
Today is the first real day of Summer. Sure, it's April 23, but we know summer's on the way because it was 80 degrees a few hours ago, and we have our first thunder, lightning & hailstorm.
It's also about to become Winter, because about 12 hours from now, we're expected to have snow falling.
Ah, Springtime in the Rockies. Schizophrenic weather and the ability to adapt to it, is part of the local tradition.
I've lived in Denver for 5 years, and otherwise spent most of my adult life in Seattle Washington. Denverites are as proud of their ability to adapt to weather changing on a dime -- about as much as Seattleites are proud of their ability to go anywhere in the rain, and people in Maine to being able to throw a barbeque in three feet of snow, or whatever it is that people from Maine do.
The one thing that really amazes me in Denver is the truly diverse ways the clouds can spit out different kinds of moisture.
In Seattle, the clouds generally hang around, and the rain is simply a variation of "lots" to "mist".
Here in Denver, I've seen snow fall while looking directly at a blue sky. I've heard thunder while it's snowing. One time, this weird cold stuff fell out of the sky -- not hail, not rain, not snow, and I stopped a cowboy on the way into a store, and asked what it was. "You're not from here," he announced as if I didn't know. "It's sleet, ma'am."
I often think of how the settlers coming across the Great Plains from neighboring Kansas and Nebraska felt as they saw the wall of Rocky Mountains in front of them. I see why Denver got settled -- as I imagine people saw the soaring cliffs and thought "This is good. We can stop here."
But like the sea -- you can't turn your back on the mountains. You use them as a bellweather for what's coming.
One time, it snowed on June 2 -- I think that was in 2002, just a year after I got here. That was the day that it started out at 65 degrees in the mid-afternoon, and in a half hour my view of the Rocky Mountains completely disappeared, the temperature dropped 30 degrees in that 30 minutes, and it began to snow.
My favorite thing about Spring here in the Rockies is the powerful thunderstorms. It's the announcement that summer hasn't forgotten us and it's well on its way.
I bought some flowers for my flower garden, but because it's snowing tomorrow, I won't plant them until Mother's Day or so.
But just for today, it's Summer. Tomorrow's another story. No worries though. It'll be 80 again by Wednesday.