After a blustery, snow-filled vacation, school is back in session. Denver has welcomed me back with its usual big city comforts: expensive parking at every corner, geese feces littering the sidewalk, and stressed students rushing to their classes, wishing they could extend their couch time by just another day.
The biggest gift the metropolitan area has given me has been dry sidewalks and above-freezing temperatures. My break was defined by snowfall. The Gunnison Valley received more than 90 inches of snow within 10 days. This means that my life was covered in a blanket of white, as I slipped and slid and tried to stay warm.
When the snow started to fall, it never stopped. I watched from my window, snapping videos and sending them to friends on the other side of the state who were unaware of the incredulous snow-pacolypse hitting my hometown. I peered with strained eyes to see through my windshield in a complete whiteout, having to pull over every mile to re-scrape the glass, careful not to slip on the layer of hardened frost separating my feet from the pavement. I scrolled through dozens of posts celebrating Gunnison High School’s first snow day since a heater burst in the 70s.
My mom and I would spend an hour at a time trying to clear our driveway, to make it possible to leave. After shoveling until our backs and legs were sore, we’d go back inside, sip on some calming tea to warm up, and head back into the storm less than an hour later. My dad would return from work in the evenings, eat a brief meal, and then head outside for hours, trying to clear our roof of the dense fluff. My fiancé would disappear in the morning time, then check in around lunch—he’d shoveled his driveway, his grandmother’s, and he was off for his sister’s.
I witnessed a town bunker down and deal with a snowy phenomenon isolated from the rest of the state. The snowplows ran for 48 hours straight, pushing the excess snow into the medians of Gunnison’s main roads. Neighbors came out in full force with shovels in hand, taking off work to clear driveways and sidewalks and stairways, offering to go the extra mile for a friend in need.
Back in Denver, none of these stresses have followed me. A little slush pales in comparison to a full-blown winter wonderland, where the snow is so extreme that the local ski resort has to close down due to too much snow.
As I am finishing up my last first day of school, I’m thankful for the clear skies and dry roads. I’m looking West for inspiration; when homework piles up, group projects begin to surface, and the imbalances of student life start to take hold, I’ll attack the situation like a Gunni-grown kid in a snowstorm: adapt, face it head on, and be a good neighbor. Have a great spring semester.