A moment of snow
Each footstep crunching beneath the layers of newly fallen leaves has now transitioned to the soft silence of detritus, and of snow. Autumnâ€™s transition to winter has been a tug of war. At the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, the snowline has risen and fallen along hillsides like the lapping of waves against a shore. We have been watching, our eyes patient and waiting, the white, wintry callings only a few hundred feet above us for over a month.
This weekend looked promising for powder, with forecasts for the North Cascades to see snow at significantly lower elevations. Like a child during the holidays, I awoke with joy Friday morning, gazing upon fat flakes of frost falling from the sky. It may have been only a minute amount of snow, but its company was welcomed with excitement and an eagerness to go out and play.
There is something unexplainable about snowâ€™s presence in a wild landscape. Summerâ€™s transition to autumn is the coming of rain in the Pacific Northwest. The rain quenches the thirst of this landscape, allows it to breathe again. Winterâ€™s transition, however, is like a cozy blanket, like the feeling you get when you are sorrowful and a loved oneâ€™s hand is placed gently upon your shoulder for support. It is astounding that such a feeling of inner warmth is kindled in this cold of a season.
Though snowâ€™s presence will, like the waves upon the shore, retreat and advance as it pleases this coming winter season, when it does arrive, welcome it. Take a walk out in it and see what surprises await you. Throw a snowball. Catch the shimmer of an ice crystal in your eye.
On Friday, the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center saw snow. Below are moments brought forth by this welcomed precipitation.
Entrance to the Environmental Learning Center, snow spattering down from the sky
Sword ferns dusted with new snow near the Lily Shelter
Graduate students (from L to R) Paul W., Mike P. and Brandi S. playing in the snow
A female black-tailed deer rests, sheltered from snow, along Sourdough Creek trail
Mushrooms indicative of autumn are now surrounded by winter’s snow
A male black-tailed deer searches for food to eat along the Sourdough Creek trail
A wintry landscape is now in place among bare red alders and paper birchesPhotos courtesy of Kelsi K. Franzen.