May 232008

Well, this is how I know I’m not in the desert. The desert is indeed nearby, but this canyon is nestled into the Mogollon Mountains, being the southern most extension of the Rockies and the beginning of the Sierra Madres. It started raining last night, cold rain that got me out of the outdoor bed quick when it started splashing against my face. After covering the bed with a tarp, I wandered sleepily around with Loba, transferring water from barrel to barrel, storing the much needed liquid in every available container. Even though we were draped in capes and raincoats we still got soaked and frozen while playing in the rain. It’s worth it though!

Back in a warmer, dryer bed I listened to the wind whip around the corners of the small cabin and the soft swell of the river below. When I woke up this morning, there was huge, fat white flakes of snow falling from the sky. I closed my eyes in disbelief and then slowly opened them again, thinking my vision would clear. Nope, the canyon was covered in a thick blanket of snow.

To fully grasp the strangeness of the situation, you have to understand SWestern seasons. We often get light but soaking rains in late winter and early spring which helps to get the plants up and going but usually from March to July we’re in the dry, hot part of the year, better known as fire season. True to form, the last couple of weeks have been blistering hot, the land dry and brittle and the fire danger building. Usually, come the beginning of July, the monsoons kick in. These are the huge thunderstorms that come up from Tucson, bringing the summer rains and triggering a second spring where every flower in the SW pops up in the span of a week and spends its vitality in a wild show of fertility. These rains usually last from July to mid-September, often causing large amounts of flash flooding and triggering the prolific growth of riverside plants. But like I said, right now is usually dry dry dry. So how strange then, to wake up to mud, snow and pouring rain. I’m not complaining at all, we’ll have more flowers and berries and fewer forest fires this summer. I do hope it doesn’t disrupt the normal flow of the monsoons though, because the plants here need the high temps and several months of rain to properly flourish and reproduce. For now though, I’m enjoying watching the snow sparkling in the still small Cottonwood leaves.

It’s been snowing and raining off and on all morning, giving us lots of clean washing and drinking water, though clouds have severely limited our solar power and ability to be online or on the laptops at all. Our electricity is limited to what we can get from about six solar panels and a similar number of batteries. This is usually enough to run the laptops and the inverter powered satellite, but now always.

Low power and lack of computer work has the wonderful blessing of freeing up my time to do more homey things, like make herbed piima cheese, put away a quart of lacto-fermented veggies, make kefir and piima and do a little bit of baking. All this in between Loba and I dashing out every half hour or so to transfer more cold water from barrel to barrel before rushing back into the cabin to warm ourselves by the roaring woodstove. Loba sipped her Oatstraw infusion while I gratefully brewed up a nice hot mug of roasted dandelion and chicory root with a sprinkle of cardamom and cinnamon on top.

All photos (c)2008 Kiva Rose

  5 Responses to “Home in the Mountains: May 23rd Snow Storm in the Gila”

  1. The weather is crazy. That wind has been brutal, and I saw the huge clouds over the Gila Mtns yesterday on the way south. How strange and wonderful that you got snow!!
    In Tucson it’s drizzling and windy and grey. VERY ODD for this time of the year. There were tornados in Denver yesterday due to the wierd weather. THanks for the lovely pictures!!

  2. Our weather has been off here too. April showers are supposed to bring May flowers but it didn’t rain much in April. In the past when we’ve had a dry April, May becomes quite wet, flooding in areas, etc. But no rain in May either.

    This spring’s lack of water is setting us up for a very dry summer and drought-like fall. It’s as if we’ve been transported to the southwest instead of the northeast.

  3. Wow, thats wild! Has it all melted by now?

  4. Ah, weird weather all around…. certainly an interesting time to be alive.

    Yep, it’s all melted now, shawna, and our normal incredibly blue skies have returned to us, along with lots of wind and new plant growth.

  5. Our weather is turned topsy turvy as well. I still have the down comforters on the bed which are normally off in at the end of March. Hot one day, cold the next, now downpours of rain for days. We usually only have 40 days of rain total. Its great for our cherries which has not plumped up yet. I was wondering how to water them the other day when we didnt get any rain in April and now mother nature has solved my problem. I did catch a couple of barrels of water too that we use to water the plants and cats 🙂 Its nice when the computer is down to do things around the house, baking feels wonderful and I adore lacto fermented anything! Stay warm and dry and enjoy

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