Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave

ON THE WINDING ROAD ROAD SOUTH OF MY HOUSE I have come to recognize the colors of each season. The ebb and flow is marked by high, green fields of alfalfa in summer; slow cattle drive traffic jams in fall and spring; then later by the bare-splay of cottonwoods and the stolid peppering of black angus herds out on winter pasture.

In winter what I notice most is the quiet. The river creeps to a cold, dark flow; its highwater line as visible as chalkmarks drawn on a blackboard along the rockbeds and canyon walls is a lonesome reminder of the long, golden days when rafts and drift boats clogged the water. The road, too, is settled into this long season. Gone are the trundling motor homes and loads of tourist rental cars bound for Yellowstone and many of the SUVs from the summer residents. When it’s busy I sometimes recognize the drivers and we exchange a quick wave; most of the time the passing is anonymous.

Now, bereft of the high season activity, this line of pavement seems a waste along a vast stretch where I see very few cars each day. On both sides, the mountains layer with snow. Day to day the valley piles with white, then drifts, then melts, then covers again. I watch for signs of life — deer, eagles, the fox by Strawberry Creek. Storms come from the west, and the arctic pull of wind funnels through the valley. But the road — its bends, straightways, hills and dips — is the same.

As the season deepens, the trucks and cars that pass become familiar, we are so few. After a while, we all acknowledge each other — a nod in daylight; an index finger tipped from the steering wheel; a two-fingered motion of greeting; and with people I know, an open-hand wave. It’s as though each driver has come to know that we all might meet one day — whether it’s car trouble, on the side of the road in a bad storm, at the store or through mutual friends — somehow we know we are in this together. We’re sticking out the winter and it’s good to know somebody else is out there.

Through the wonderful, drawn months of winter Big Sky Journal is here. We come to you as a friendly wave down the road, or more so, a come-with-us beckon to celebrate the big snow on the slopes, in the backcountry and all winter long.

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