Today having been an excellent day to stay home and recover a bit from NaNoWriMo (but not to rest, oh no; my prior blog entry is correct, 52,000 and counting!), I found myself idly looking out the window of the second storey apartment in which I live.
I call this place a vertical trailer park because of the standards of behavior routinely exhibited by the human-shaped creatures who dwell here. Though we are just across the street from a fairly genteel housing development dating from perhaps the late 70s or early 80s, a development with modest-sized houses nicely maintained and yards in which people take obvious pride an an appealing middle-class tidiness, this apartment complex could be mistaken for some kind of halfway house -- but an unsupervised one. Thus the cars on blocks in the parking lot, the potholes that can turn into doggie swimming pools if it rains enough, the small array of shopping carts abandoned beside all of the building entrances. It's an enchanting place; but residence in an enchanting place is the price I pay for having a dog and not being ready/willing to buy a house of my own and surrender to mortgages and unaided maintenance. I pay it willingly; it's worth it to have the Collie of Folly with me.
And most of the time it doesn't get to me too horribly, because I live on the second floor and when I look out my window I don't see the parking lot and the shopping carts and the gatherings of doorstep smokers, but rather the sky to the west of us (currently flaming orange and black with the sunset and the stark outlines of a neighbor's great old cottonwood trees), and that's often pretty cool.
Earlier today the air outside was a little more alarming; the kind of air I could watch and imagine myself feeling and wincing at. Ordinarily one cannot see air, of course, especially not through a dirty second-storey window. When that air is clotted with little ice crystals driven forward, ever forward by another formidable Cheyenne wind, however, it is most dramatically visible.
That's when I had my little lexical epiphany of the day. "Snowfall" is almost exactly the wrong word for what happens here when evaporated water in the atmospher crystallizes around a dust particle and departs from a wintry strom cloud. "Snowfall" implies a mostly downward progress, from the sky to the ground, either in a gentle and meandering descent or an out-and-out plummet earthwards.
Snowfall does not happen here.
What I saw out my window was most assuredly a horizontal progress, begun perhaps three or four miles north of me, and, based on the velocity and ferocity, bound to extend for several more southbound miles before anything might be thought to have the potential to hit the pavement, soil, sidewalk or landfill. Perhaps it might even be Colorado before it landed.
It was not hard to imagine what it would feel like to be in the path of that snow, because I've been there many times. Millions of tiny missiles, hurtled along on fierce trajectories by an overwhelming force, their impact on one's face and hands and any other foolishly exposed body parts could be compared to that of tiny, tiny bullets.
And so I humbly suggest a new word for this weather phenomenon: snowfire.
"Don't go out there right now, Dobie! You'll get caught in the snowfire!" "I must, Debbie, for our Netflix movies are in yonder mailbox and we are bored." "All right, but be careful! We're counting on you!" "Fear not; I have a military-grade snowshell-proof vest. I will be safe."
Causes Kate Sherrod Supports
National Novel Writing Month, National Public Radio (two stations - KUWR/Laramie, WY and KUNC - Greeley, CO), Wyoming Association of Municipalites, Wyoming...