This past year has been entertaining here in the metropolis of Bear Lake. Okay, it's not a metropolis, but a wonderful mountain valley. =) Lots of people like to visit here, as is evident from the number of tourists who pass through. Most come to enjoy beautiful Bear Lake, that pristine body of water that resembles the Caribbean. Campers enjoy our tree-filled forests. Others stop by on their way to Jackson, Wyoming or Yellowstone Park to partake of food, fill their cars with gas, etc. Some come to explore the impressive Oregon Trail Museum that lies along highway 30.
After a weekend like we've just endured, several people want to know what possesses us to live in a place like Bear Lake. Spring didn't make an appearance this year. We went straight from winter to summer in one fell swoop about the middle of June. Summer lasted from June until about the second week of August when the temperatures began to plummet.Our first snow storm of the season took place this past weekend, and it was a doozie. Nearly 8 inches of snow fell upon us on Saturday. About four more inches dropped down from heaven during Saturday night\Sunday morning.
We witnessed blizzard conditions about 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, from the comfort of the stake center where many of us were busy making things for the humanitarian effort. Myself, I was knitting winter hats with one of those handy loom thingys. I should have made a hat for myself. ;)
When we learned that a winter storm was on its way here, most of us smirked. We figured we'd see one to two inches, not a big deal. Imagine my surprise when I journeyed out of the stake center to see about 7 inches of snow all over my car. Imagine my disgust with myself when I realized I didn't bring along a handy snow-scraper. I had to use my umbrella to wipe the snow from my car windows so that I could see where I was going.
Heeding some advice from a well-meaning local type, I took 8th street out of Montpelier. Bad idea. Not much traffic had passed through that street and it was a slushy mess. I slid sideways a couple of times before I made it to highway 30. Once I arrived home, I had no intention of traveling anywhere else. It was cold, snowy and yucky outside and I began wondering why I live in this location myself. ;)
Sunday dawned cold and snowy. I looked out the front room window, appalled by the amount of snow that had accumulated on an apple tree I've been nurturing for nigh onto 13 years. Lest you think I'm silly, let me share why.My children gave me this tree for Mother's Day one year. It was a beautiful, baby flowering crab tree, and I was excited, since I had always wanted one of those. Then behold, during the following winter, my sons managed to mow it over while giving each other rides on an inner tube strapped behind one of our snow machines. Most uncool.
When the next spring rolled around, I was all set to dig up what was left of this tree and plant a new one. But it had survived. A sprout was bravely clinging to life, poking its way out of the root. So I let it live. I figured if it had that much desire to exist, I wouldn't stand in its way. An uncle of mine examined it later on and he told me that flowering crab trees are often grafted into an apple tree root, since those roots are sturdier. He figured my "new" tree would be something akin to a regular apple tree.
Through the years, this tree has been lovingly pruned, nurtured, etc. This year is the first time it has produced apples that are fit to eat. And not only fit to eat, but delicious. Neighbors and relatives have been enjoying its produce the past couple of weeks. We've harvested quite a bunch of apples from this industrious tree so far. Then this freak winter storm hit.
When I looked out of my front room window Sunday morning, I saw that this tree was in trouble. Its branches were hanging on the ground, weighted down by icy snow. The snow from the day before had melted just enough to freeze into solid ice. And it was still snowing, adding to the weight. So, after church, I fractured the Sabbath a tiny bit and went outside to knock the snow off my treasured tree.
It's difficult, raising trees in our climate---and this tree is important to me, a symbol of not giving up when life mows you down.As I carefully removed the snow from each branch, I figured I would repent by going to choir practice that afternoon. However, after saving the tree, I saw that I was snowed in.
In the tradition of our valley, we have a metal roof on our house and garage. Since winters here are usually vicious, these roofs are a necessity---they allow the snow to slide harmlessly to the ground. Unfortunately, it always manages to slide from the roof above the garage to the driveway below, effectively blocking the way for one to travel out of the garage with say, a car.
Locating a snow shovel, I began the tedious task of removing just enough snow to permit my car to back out of the garage. At that point, there was about a foot and a half of snow blocking its way. Keeping in mind that it was the Sabbath Day, I only shoveled enough snow for my tires to fit through. Just as I finished, a bunch of snow came crashing down on top of my head from the roof. Nice. I wasn't seriously injured, but I couldn't see for a few seconds; part of the snow had slid between my face and my glasses. Most of it plastered my head, effectively ruining my hairstyle. The rest went down my neck, saturating the sweater I was wearing.
Realizing there were about 10 minutes before choir practice, I hurried inside. Then I caught on that I didn't feel very good. So I checked my blood sugar. I'm a type 1 diabetic, and sometimes when I exert, it causes that level to drop. It was low, so I grabbed a container of Gatorade and hurried to the bathroom to fix the damage to my hair and face.Mopping off the water, I dried my hair, changed clothes, then restyled my hair before I left the house. And there was the little matter of my low blood sugar level. It usually takes about 20 minutes for that to return to normal. Since I only live about 3 blocks from the church house, I waited an extra five minutes, to make sure I wasn't going to pass out. Then, deciding I would live, I headed down to the church.
It was all for naught---the only ones who showed up for practice yesterday afternoon were the choir director, the pianist, and myself. Everyone else must have decided it was too yucky of a day to venture forth. =) Isn't that the way?!
Back to why I live here:
1) The people in Bear Lake Valley are awesome. We're a small enough community that there are no strangers. Most are willing to help whenever life's adventures descend.
2) Huckleberries! Der!!! Need I say more?! These delicious berries don't grow every place. But you can usually find them on the mountain sides of Bear Lake.
3) It's never too hot in the summer. ;) [This is called looking on the bright side.]
4) Winter lasts 9 months. Okay, maybe that's not a plus, but it does give me a chance to catch up on all of those projects I don't have time to tackle during our short, but busy summers.
5) We seem to only have 2 seasons: Summer and Winter. I kind of miss spring and fall, but in way of good news, the mosquitoes only last 3 months. =)
Bear Lake might not be the perfect place to live, but I seriously doubt that such a place exists. There are pros and cons to every area. I saw this when my family moved around . . . a lot . . . while I was growing up. I've lived longer in Bear Lake than I've ever lived anywhere else and for now, it's home. There's something to be said for that. When a place feels like home, I think it's a good idea to stick around.;)
Welcome to Crane-ium: thoughts, poetry, lyrics & photography of Cheri J. Crane
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