"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer." Albert Camus
Winter in Big Sky, Montana, what can I say? Well for starters I hadn't even planned on staying for one when I arrived here in May of 2021. Greeted with snow on Memorial Day I thought to myself, "what have I gotten myself into?" Fast forward to 2023, and here I am just wrapping up my second winter. A winter filled with sub zero temperatures, 3am wakeup calls, and a massive amount of that thing they call snow. The winters of 2022 and 2023 were night and day by comparison. In 2022 we'd have a day or two of snow, followed by multiple days off. In 2023 we'd have multiple days of snow, followed by a day or two off.
November the 1st marked the beginning of plowing season, and from that point forward it was full on go. My recollections of November and December are a blur, as the minutes turned into hours and the hours turned into days. Everyday felt like that scene from Groundhogs day, when Bill Murray wakes up at 6am to the tune of "I Got You Babe." I shoveled snow, I blew snow, I tasted snow, I felt snow, I shit in snow. Big Sky, Montana had turned into my own personal Snow Globe.
The holidays came and went like Usain Bolt running a 100 meter race. My Thanksgiving was spent enjoying a home cooked meal with some friends from Michigan, Christmas Eve I watched It's a Wonderful Life for the first time at the local theater, and Christmas Day was spent hiking with a fellow adventurer from the sunny shores of Florida. Time kept ticking away as midnight finally hit on January the 1st, ushering in the new year of 2023. A week later, the dog and I would venture to the Tetons in Wyoming for a short winter getaway. You can read about that adventure by clicking the link: HERE. The snow continued to fall through-out the month and a another nice reprieve arrived, as my dad flew in for his seasonal visit. We enjoyed some quality time together, but just as quickly as he flew in, he was headed right back out, and along with his departure it would usher in the most memorable three week stretch of the 2023 winter season.
Over a six day span we received three feet of snow, two of which fell in a 24 hour period. A 4am start with already 8 inches of snow on the ground, and nearly ninety driveways that needed to be cleared, I knew I was in for an arduous grind. By 3pm when I began my route above the meadow village, there was nearly two feet of snow covering the roads. I continued clearing my driveways and before I could even blink, it was 9pm and was being offered pizza from a stranger who hailed from Lake Tahoe. The eighteen hour day had ended and I was quickly up the following morning to do my route all over again. That Sunday temperatures dropped to -30 degrees Fahrenheit overnight, and by far would be the coldest night I would have to endure in the truck. Even with my space heaters running, it was still pretty frosty inside. Earlier in the evening my coworkers and I were blessed with an abundance of food for all the hard work we had put in. The freezers had stopped working at the local market, so instead of letting the food spoil, the workers came out while we cleaned up the parking area and told us we could come in and take whatever we'd like. I stocked up on frozen vegetables, burritos, tortillas, burgers, dinners and french fries.
Three weeks of clearing snow and moving piles, and I had been anchored into my port of Big Sky. Worse places I could've been if I'm being honest! That being said, I hadn't been to the gym/hot springs, my laundry was piling up and I was beginning to feel the mental effects of the grind. Ten hours inside of a Toolcat blowing snow, and you start to go a little bonkers. A slight depression had overtaken me and the winter of 2023 was beginning to take its toll with nearly 3 months left to it. I had soon realized that it wasn't the winter that was taking me under though, it was the feelings of heartbreak and heartache that still lingered in the background from a breakup years prior. For a deeper read, click on my blog post entitled: Good Things Happen in Goodbyes.
By mid February my mind had cleared up again and I was ready to endure the final months of the winter season. The snowfall had let up and our days of working were beginning to space themselves out more. March would find me slowing down and enjoying the time out on my routes. With my windows open and the music on, I knew we were over the hump. The days were getting longer, the sun was shining brighter, and the snow was melting quicker.
As I'm writing this, we have three weeks left to our winter season, and while I don't expect anything major to happen, you just never know. Considering how our 2022 season went, I wasn't expecting 2023 to turn out the way it did. It's definitely the most snow that I have ever experienced, and I'm beginning to wonder if it becomes the new norm? Will we see the depths that Lake Tahoe in California experienced next winter, or does the season trend backwards like the year prior. As of now I'm committed to two more winters in Montana which takes me though 2025, so I'll have plenty of time to experience more of what just two years prior I said I could never have endured. As the quote that started this blog on life post above says, "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer", deep I know, but that's just how I roll.
To browse and purchase my Montana landscape / fine art photography prints, click the link: HERE.
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