Monday, January 7, 2013

Desert Winters

I miss living somewhere with snow right now; I’ve been reading too many blogs that tell about the snowy view out their windows, or their view of the woods where in winter afternoons they go on hikes through the trees and then come home to hot chocolate by the wood fire. Here we have winter views of neighbor’s houses that are now visible through the trees that lost their leaves, and we come home from the cold to gas fireplaces with fake logs.

In Las Vegas in the winter months, things get colder and indicate a change of season, but there aren’t as many notable changes that make it a time to celebrate the season. But because I try to be optimistic and see things in a more positive light, I will try to paint an accurate picture of desert winters - or Las Vegas winters - through rose-colored glasses that I will now put on.

As I type here at the wooden kitchen table next to a pile of papers, unopened mail, and the bottle of wine we won at a friend’s party last night, the light from outside is dark blue-grey as the evening approaches. There are a few fat sparrows at the bird feeder – they’re probably finches but it’s hard to tell in the dim light – and the water in the bird bath is frozen solid although the temp today may have reached into the low 50’s.

The neighbors houses are close, but they seem to be good neighbors – quiet people who have pets and kids – but we haven’t met all of them. The main tree I see from my chair is an Australian Bottle Tree, and I wonder how it likes our cold winters. So far it has taken the cold wind, and even the flurries we got a few weeks ago, with solumn courage.

Vegas skies can be gorgeous, especially when they get some variety instead of the clear blue skies of summer. All day today it was overcast, making it feel cozy to be inside with a cup of tea under a down blanket. Right now, the western sky’s blue is reflected in the patio furniture and the bricks of the patio, making the backyard monochromatic. The sky to the East is striped with long dark clouds.

George is sprawled across the back of the couch but I’m sure he wishes he were at Floyd Lamb Park right now. We went there today, even though it was super cold, to watch the ducks and peacocks and the blue heron who is often next to the main lake. Today a flock of Canadian geese filled a meadow that we passed, and we played chicken with a few who met us on the path. Some of the ponds were frozen, and the ice was covered with rocks and pinecones that people had thrown out to test its strength. The woods might not be right outside our door, but they are close. And we can come home to hot chocolate and get cozy in our warm house. If we were brave, we could light up a real fire in the fire pit outside.

In the winter, the mountains that surround Las Vegas become covered with snow, and the highest one (Mt. Charleston) stays snow-covered all season long, reminding us that it is winter even if a few days are unseasonably warm. We wear winter sweaters and scarves but don't have to bundle up quite as thoroughly as the rest of the country. And even though we could see snow flurries or occasional snow that sticks to the ground, we can just as easily see a stray hummingbird or butterfly. In fact, during Christmas week I opened the door to greet a friend and was surprised to see probably 15 butterflies fly up around us.

As I finish writing, I can no longer see the bird feeder; only the sky is visible above the dark silhouette of the surrounding houses and bare trees. White Christmas lights are reflected in the glass of our window, because I haven’t yet taken down the lights in the kitchen because Jude likes to point at them and smile.

There is laundry to do, and dishes to wash, and dinner to prepare, but instead I’ll sit for a bit longer and enjoy Jude’s nap and the chill in the room. It’s winter in Las Vegas, and I will sit here and redefine, or at least begin to accept, my new definition of winter.

1 comment:

  1. I like your post about Vegas winters. I dearly miss them. The snow in New England is all well and good until you have to drive in it...shovel it...scrape it...especially when you're trying to get to work.

    Vegas to me was perfect, a sugar-coating of snow on the mts and just cold enough to enjoy wearing a sweater. No running out in 10-degree weather to turn on the car to warm up....and if you feel like throwing a snowball, there's always Mt. Charleston. Soon, the flowers will be starting to come out (like February), while up here we will have to wait until April to see any hint of green or bloom.

    And I miss you too.