Look outside: Summer days are here again | SierraSun.com

Look outside: Summer days are here again

KEEPIN' SCORE, Matt Riddle

I moved at beginning of the New Year. The backyard of the new place copiously loaded with snow, snow and more snow.

There was a driveway back there under all the snow, somewhere. But at this time, we were just parking on the other side of the house.

This past weekend, my roommate and I started parking there again. Two and a half months later, the snow is gone. We had to clear a pile of snow that the plow service had left at the top of the drive into the backyard, effectively blocking any drive down. It took 30 minutes to chop up the snow pile- ice block, really- and shovel it off.

“I’m thinking about putting my summer tires back on,” Dave, my roommate, said. His SUV rides on snow tires every winter. This winter, he’s just been shortening the life expectancy of the asphalt between here and Alpine Meadows, not getting better traction.

The snow is melting. No new snow is replacing it. Even backcountry runs are turning into hardpack.

Despite all the potential optimism I could have, I have to admit it: Summer is starting already.

We could blame it on El Ni-o, La Ni-a, President Bush, global warming, cyclical weather patterns or Gray Davis. It would be convenient to blame Saddam Hussein, too.

But why? It’s summer. It should be welcomed. Summer is the time where we can wear shorts regularly, not as a novelty to make the gapers gawk. Sleep in the backyards, hike in the mountains without skis or snowshoes, climb, mountain bike, have water fights and swim in Donner Lake (Well, after July, anyway).

Right now, we’re in that gap where it’s not prime skiing and snowboarding weather, but it’s not really summer sport weather, either.

The grass in the backyard is completely brown. There’s not a blade of green. A thin layer of pine needles covers the mud in the rest of the yard. The neighbor’s two-level roof no longer has any snow on it. In early January, it was several feet deep and the top level wouldn’t unload because the lower level’s sunroofs blocked the snow hanging down. It was just one, large oblong block of snow.

One time, a dog ran up the snow that had built up underneath and went straight up on the roof. I visualized a really nice jump off of it, thinking the cool video it could make to come down the roof onto the second to hit a jump at the edge of the eve (The owners probably wouldn’t appreciate that, though).

Now their backyard is open enough to throw a baseball around without any snow.

I want at least two or three more solid powder days, and I realize that, yes that may not happen.

So I should greet the inevitable with a smile: Spring is coming.

We’re still holding out for powder. Another run down Siberia Ridge in Squaw Valley as I drown in the fluff would be nice. Maybe Headwall, or something off of Scott’s Chair in Alpine Meadows. I always wanted to hit Lookout Mountain at Northstar on a powder day, but I’m thinking I’ll have to wait until next year.

Until then, I’m going to enjoy the warmer weather and not be deterred by that insatiable snow bug in me.

But one last bottomless turn would close this winter chapter with pure satisfaction instead of compromise.

Matt Riddle is sports and outdoors reporter for the Sierra Sun.