Jim Harrison’s poem, I Believe, is one of my favorites. So the other night with it in mind, I drove up the west slope of the Tetons, parked on the side of a dirt road, and wrote this, my version of I Believe.
It’s called adiabatic cooling. It’s why the mountains get more snow than the valleys. When air rises, as it must when passing over mountains, into the lower barometric pressures associated with higher altitudes, the reduced pressure it encounters lets rising air expand and cool off. Cooling off causes the condensation of water vapor which is falling to earth right now as snow. The weatherman in Teton Valley measured new snowfall from the current winter storm at ten inches. Grand Targhee Resort, twelve hundred feet higher, reports twenty five - the equivalent of four inches of rain. SNOTEL sites from across the Snake River watershed indicate 121% of average snow water equivalency to date. Yellowstone’s at 167%. And that’s good, it will be fishing season soon and the solution to most worries in the west, whether they be fish, field, or forest related is to just add water.
However it’s measured and whatever its use, water is making life quiet in the valley. The already soft sounds of winter are muffled into silence by the snow piling up outside my window. I’ve been writing and have just sent off to my thesis advisor the first of five essays for critique with hopes the process of collaboration will let the words cool and expand and come back down to find a form, find a use, maybe even find a truth. Until then, I’ll enjoy the quiet and the fire, the work still ahead and the reassuring feeling that I am where I’m supposed to be.