Be Careful What You Wish For

February 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Not long ago I wrote about a snow deficit here in Teton Country. Most everyone had been wishing for more: farmers, winter sports enthusiasts, nature photographers. Finally, after a significant storm at the end of January, Jackson Hole looked like it should in mid-winter. Since then Mother Nature has been a real over-achiever when it comes to snow production. Round after round, the inches pile up as the powder keeps falling. There have been so many consecutive snowy days in and around Jackson I've been unable to get over to Grand Teton National Park since the first of the month. And now February is nearly over. 

Be careful what you wish for! 

The good news is I expect to be able to make winter photographs in the park well into March. Maybe much later.

I've grown accustomed to abundant snow. While living in New England I experienced more than one so-called 100-year winter. Speaking of which, how many 100-year weather events can one person rack up? More than I would ever have thought. The winter of 2015 went into the record books as one of the most extreme. That season I cleared more than 200 inches off my driveway, sidewalk, and even the roof (no, I didn't live in the mountains; this was at sea level). The really crazy thing was that most of that snow fell in a very short period of time - only about six weeks.

Here in the wild, wild intermountain west it's the wind that wreaks havoc; blowing and drifting snow creates whiteouts and closes roads. 

Bottom line: it's not always easy to get around. Some days you can't go further than the end of your own driveway. Even after the roads have been opened, it can be challenging to find places to park the vehicle once I finally get to wherever it is I'm hoping to work. 

When driving becomes too difficult, I look for subject matter closer to home - or at home.

I had three flowering crab trees in my yard back in New England. One year they produced an incredible bumper crop of tiny fruit. Not only was this a hit with the birds, it provided a pop of color. 

Early that winter a storm deposited about eight inches of powdery snow which clung to everything as it softly fell. "Storm" doesn't seem like the right word; it came down gently. There was no wind - not even a breeze. Completely still, it was also very quiet, and absolutely beautiful. I grabbed the camera, pulled on my boots, and made a beeline for the tree with the most fruit. At about 15 feet tall and situated on a gradual slope, it was no longer very easy to access. Getting enough height to isolate a single branch while incorporating a pleasing background required an assist from the stepladder. Start with uneven terrain and mix in the already substantial snowpack and you've got a recipe for trouble. Both the ladder and I teetered somewhat precariously and the whole operation no doubt looked rather ridiculous - but I'm happy to report that the camera and I escaped unscathed!

It was worth the effort to search for a good background; all that snow clinging to the many branches in the dense woods beyond created a wonderful bokeh.   

Nature's beauty surrounds us. One need not travel great distances to find it.

Fresh PowderFresh PowderPowdery early season snowfall covers the berries on a crab tree in winter. (Newfields, New Hampshire)

     


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