Snow on High Ground

By , November 14, 2011

What a weekend! When I went outside Friday morning, the gibbous moon hung invisible west of the ridge behind me, but its bright light bathed the snow-covered Coast Range in a brilliant blue glow. A couple of hours later, the sun rose over those same peaks, drenching the dooryard in sunshine. Michelle arrived shortly after that for her weekend visit, and we had a splendid day in the sun.

That evening, just after 9:00 p.m., tiny flakes of snow began to fall. The next morning, the homestead lay under a deep covering. We had received an inch an hour in the previous twelve.

First big snow of winter 2011-2012

The homestead beach in a foot of snow (Photo: Michelle Zeiger).

By Saturday evening, the temperature rose above freezing, and the thaw began. Now the dooryard is almost clear once again.

On the ridge above us, however, the snow hangs on. It brings to mind one of my favorite Nightnoise tunes, Snow on High Ground, from their 1988 CD, At The End Of The Evening.

This is the season for that poignant piece. Besides its original album, it has been included in several Christmas music compilation discs. Being an instrumental piece, it’s highly adaptable. But whatever its setting, whatever time of year I hear it, it is ineffably evocative.

It recalls similar days to this one, in which I can stand on the bare dooryard and look up to the ridge behind the cabin, at snow lying thick on the slopes above me, seen through the surrounding trees.

It calls to mind a windswept Montana draw, southeast of the Crazy Mountains, when Michelle and I hunted for a Christmas tree with my father and mother. As dusk fell, we scrambled over the rocky ground, through scattered drifts of snow, until pulled up short by a small herd of mule deer bursting from cover and running past us.

It reminds me of climbing a sea cliff somewhere near Sitka, pulling myself up over the edge to fall face-first and full of surprise into several feet of snow in a sheltered place where it apparently had failed to melt with the rest.

There are many other memories of snow on high ground. The song calls one or the other to mind any time I hear it.

We’re likely to see a whole lot more snow this year. I might not be so excited about playing songs in honor of it in another month or two, but for now, I’m enjoying it.


One Response to “Snow on High Ground”

  1. Michelle says:

    Yes, we are getting more snow! In town there has been about 3 feet of snow in the last 48 hours. The main roads are plowed and the school and businesses are open. But everyone you meet smiles and shakes their head in disbelief. More than one person observed that this year may make up for our lack of snow last year.
    The soundtrack here is the sound of two-stroke snow blowers and cars and trucks slowly sliding off the road.

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