As we prepared for our first winter in rural Southern Oregon, we expected some challenges. “There will be rain. There will be snow,” we told each other. “It will be cold.” I read up on winter horse care; we bought muck boots (for the mud), warmer clothing (for the snow), a propane heater and extra bottles of fuel (in case of a power outage), and learned how to operate the pellet stove.
Of course, Mother Nature can be whimsical.
We had the rain (“My goodness,” our new friends said, “it’s never rained this much before”) followed by picture-perfect snows — the good kind, where you wake up to a soft blanket of white that conveniently melts within a day or two. “Wow!” we chortled to each other. “This is great!”
That, as it turns out, wasn’t winter. That was the prelude to winter. In early January, the temperature started dropping. “My goodness,” our new friends said, “it’s never been this cold this long before.” When the water pipes to the paddock froze, we watered the horses from the rainbarrel. When the rainbarrel froze solid, we carried buckets of warm water from the bathroom to their stalls. When the pipes to the house froze, we filled buckets from the hot tub.
We learned to expect several different kinds of weather – and often, we’d experience several different kinds of weather each day. Rain and snow and sun. Snow followed by sun and hail. Fog, then snow, then sun. Fog, sun, rain, hail, AND snow.
What we didn’t expect was the Pogonip.
Pogonip (the name comes from the Shoshone word meaning “cloud”) is frozen fog. The fog itself freezes, leaving intricate ice sculptures on everything it touches, which is…well…everything. It was called “white death” by early Anglo settlers who thought that breathing the frozen fog would kill you. (And you might die, too, not from breathing the fog, but from slipping on the ice while carrying two buckets of hot water to the stalls, and spilling the hot water all over your fool self. Just saying.)
So, not just winter weather, but totally new and different TYPES of weather. What’s next, banjo wind? Mandolin rain?