A change in the weather

Published 8:58 pm Friday, March 5, 2010

For a guy who can’t stop nagging his wife about his dream of living in Montana, I sure am glad the cold weather has begun to break.

The Montana dream has been a recurring theme in our conversations since Annette and I visited Glacier and Yellowstone National parks several years ago and drove across major portions of both Montana and Wyoming on our way to Colorado from Washington state.

I’ve traveled in Europe and have spent time in 37 states, but Montana was the first place besides Virginia that ever called to my heart. Traveling through Big Sky country was the first time I ever went through the experience of literally having my breath taken away by the sight of a landscape.

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The majestic peaks of Glacier National Park — accessed by the aptly named Going-to-the-Sun Road — were defining images of majesty. And the other-worldly landscapes of Yellowstone — combined with the freely roaming wildlife that makes the park home — provided an unforgettable experience of Montana and Wyoming.

Of course, it was springtime, and the snow had melted away from all but the highest elevations. Temperatures were in the 50s and 60s, and the days were long and stretching as the Earth edged closer to vernal equinox. In other words, we missed out on the bitterness of that region’s winters.

I was thinking about that trip on Friday as I walked out of the house here in Suffolk into what felt like the first sunny day in a year. Although clouds moved in throughout the day, they could not steal the hope that I found growing in my heart as a result of my brief morning flirtation with spring. The temperature still says winter — at least until next week — but my mind already has moved along to April, and Friday’s brief, blue window into the sky just served to fix me more firmly in my thinking.

Meanwhile, the forecast for Baker, Mont., calls for snow or freezing rain every day through Thursday. Temperatures in Wolf Point, Mont., were expected to fall to a bracing 6 degrees Friday night. The town of Fisher Creek, Mont., still has 5 feet of snow on the ground. Yes, that’s 5 feet. Folks in Virginia City told us it’s not unusual to have snow on Independence Day. By the time some parts of Montana see spring, we’ll be raking and bagging leaves.

For now, at least, Montana can have its snow, and I’m content to remain a Virginian. We may not have mountains that soar into the stratosphere, but at least we know how to close the door on a hard winter.

With the full knowledge that anyone who lives in along the I-95 corridor north of Petersburg will curse me for saying so in light of the winter experience they’ve had this year, I’ve decided that I’ve had enough cold, enough rain and enough slushy snow for the year.

It’s over. I’m done. Bring on the sun and the flowers and even the pollen. As a native Virginian, I’m asserting my God-given right to call for a change in the weather.