Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thanks, Mr Sun! (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

It is fun to live in Denver because, most winters, we get a lot of variation in our weather. Last winter, for some reason, we got snow feet at a time followed by temperatures so far below freezing it was a notable day when I was able to drive home from work without my fingers getting cold...inside my gloves! And I have a ten-minute commute.

This year, we got our first serious snowfall on Christmas Day, followed by another good dumping only a couple of days later. Naturally, there was some fear of a repeat of last year. But, no cause for concern! This past week, we had highs over 50 several times, and the remaining snow has dwindled considerably. Most important is that the roads are completely clear now--we don't mind piles of the stuff on the lawns, as long as we can get around okay.

Today, I celebrate and express my appreciation and gratitude for the variation we see in Denver. We get four seasons, and that's just last week! In fact, we do, honestly, have four distinct seasons in Denver, it's just that there is some overlap.
(apple tree in our backyard)
Spring, for some of our plant life, can extend well past the presumed end of that season at the vernal equinox. Or, maybe they are just late sleepers. Spring is often the shortest season in Denver, as snow can interrupt its beginning--snow in May is not impossible in Denver--and early heat sometimes makes you forget it is still technically spring in mid-June. Because of the wide variety of flowers and other blooming plants people try to grow here, something is blooming from the grape hyacinth poking its head through the snow sometimes in early March all the way to the first frost.

Summer, at least the warm temperatures of summer, sometimes arrive around the end of May and can linger past when everyone is ready for the 90's to end. No one minds all that much, though, because it cools off nicely after dark. It pays to be a mile above sea level in that regard; summer mornings start off in the 60's, perfect for a walk or a bike ride. Contrast that with Phoenix, where I visited a friend years ago at the end of May. The morning I left to drive back to Denver, before sunrise, the temperature display at a local bank said 104.

(view from Squaw Pass between Evergreen and Idaho Springs)
We have magnificent fall weather, particularly that period known as Indian summer, which I loosely defined as any nice weather experienced after the first hard frost. It is not unusual for us to see two weeks of pleasant days in October, so beautiful with the trees beginning to turn, and yet warm enough to be out in a short-sleeve shirt. Julia and I go for a drive in the mountains in late September to see the trees turning, always a preview of what is to happen in Denver in a couple of weeks. We don't have the hardwoods aplenty which make the time so glorious in New England, but the contrast of sunlit, golden aspen leaves shimmering against the deep green of the evergreens can take one's breath, just the same. Winter can creep all the way back to October some years--one of the most damaging snows in recent memory in Denver happened October 19th, 1997 before the trees had a chance to drop their leaves. It was heartbreaking to drive around after that storm and see how many trees suffered horrible damage. We are lucky to have lost no trees during these storms, even if we did have some branches lost.
(the little garden table visible in the spring shot is under the dome of snow in the middle of this photo)
Our winters are the time during which the weather is most variable, as this past week or two has shown. We are probably in for at least one prolonged cold blast of Arctic air which will drop us below zero for a few days, but a week after that it could easily be 50 again. Snow? Usually only a few inches at a time, and usually gone from everywhere but the north sides of buildings within days. The good news about the 14 inches or so we got over a three-day period around Christmas is that all the perennials will not need water the rest of the winter. Sometimes, it can be so dry that we need to break out the hoses even in the winter to make sure that at least a little moisture is getting to the bushes. Not after a snow of this magnitude! It is the dormant season, so they don't need lots of moisture, and the snow melts slowly enough that the ground can absorb it, other than those areas with full sun bordering a sidewalk or driveway.

This tour of Denver's climatic variety is brought to you by my gratitude today, as I let you all know how much I love Denver on Sacred Life Sunday.


Kikipotamus said...

I also love to live in a place with four distinct seasons. Denver looks just beautiful.

Angela said...

Colorado is such a beautiful state. You know, I lived in San Diego for a couple of years in the early '80's and boy did I miss the seasons! You can have your 70-degrees every day of the year. Give me variety!

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies. I'm sure neither of you currently have any problem with experiencing distinct seasons of the year!

Angela--I went to school in southern California, just for one year, and it was enough. It is not a requirement for me to have huge snow amounts or bitter cold, but I do need wintertime. Never saw it in Pasadena!

Carla said...

I love living with four distinct seasons too. One of these days I hope to return to beautiful Denver and meet you!

Julie said...

Denver really is such a beautiful place. I'm thinking we all meet up sometime - maybe Boulder? Perhaps I am just always looking for excuses to get out of Atlanta-:)

Jane said...

Happy white winter, Rick! I absolutely LOVE the summer picture of the table and chairs. I've flown in to Denver and spent about 2 hours there. I'd love to get back again one of these days.

Rick Hamrick said...

As my grandmother was known to say, "Y'all come ahead on!" (my roots are in North Carolina)

It would be a blast to get a group together, and Boulder is a great spot for it.

Jane would have to bring her daughter, who is moving to Denver (or so she keeps claiming), and Julie could bring the V man. Carla could bring the dobies as long as they promised to behave on the trip. Kelly could bring Sylvain, O could bring LoveHubbie...we might have to rent a hall for all the folks who will be stopping by for a visit!