You can always tell that autumn is in full swing in Utah when each storm that passes through leaves more snow on the mountains. Gradually the snow makes its way down the barren slopes above the treeline, through the aspen and pine at the very top of Y mountain, and then on down through the scrub oak–by now a brilliant amber-magenta–until it obscures the whitewashed block Y on the mountain above our house.
This morning as I drove south on 9th east toward work, the sky was absolutely clear and almost violet in the sunrise. I could see the sun reflecting off the snow on the back side of Mt. Nebo, and I wished I’d had a camera. The snow reminded me of the yellow nicotine film that covered every surface in my mother-in-law’s apartment when we were first married, but there was a fierceness to the contrast between the indigo-brown of the rocky peak and the bright but muted yellow.
Living in Texas, I had forgotten about seasons, really. They say that in Houston there are ten months of summer–and then July and August. For most of the year the grass stayed green, and the trees retained their leaves. And then, of a sudden around Christmas time, the leaves dropped and the grass went to a dormant straw color. Only the spindly limbs of the pin oaks told you it was winter because it never got all that cold. We had central heating and a gas fireplace, and used both about twice a year.
The last winter we were in College Station, an ice storm passed through. I had never seen such a thing, but when I left the house in the morning, everything was coated with a quarter of an inch of clear, glassy ice. The trees and the eaves of the house hung heavy with delicate icicles, and both cars were impenetrable, the doors and door locks sealed with ice. Eventually I managed to crack through enough of the ice to get in the car and start it. The roads were treacherous, each bridge, no matter how small, a slick sheet of ice.
But it was nothing like the snow. Last year, we drove up to Sundance, and the kids stood in the falling snow for at least thirty minutes, faces upturned and tongues out, reveling in the newness of the event. But it didn’t stick that day. But we watched the advance of the snow down Mt. Timpanogos until the day in late October last year when the yard was blanketed in heavy snow. My children made a couple of snowmen and had a snowball fight, but by the next afternoon it had all melted.
It’s supposed to snow this Saturday, and my kids are already arguing about who has to shovel and when, but I can tell there’s just a hint of excitement in the air. The seasons are changing, and we’re happy to see it.