A whisper and a foreign sensation combined to wake me suddenly this morning well before dawn. There was no grogginess. I flung open the front door with energy to experience the beautiful murmur of melting, the unmistakable trickle of snow and ice melting. I smiled at the roof line displaying a column of overhanging new snow that last week took me (and many friends around the Gorge I’ve learned) many hard hours of shoveling to ensure that our roofs would hold under the heaviness of ice.
Many northern climes do not experience the spring thaw until months later than January 21, and so we should be grateful, yet here in the Pacific Northwest lowlands, where a dash of winter has become the norm, all of us have six weeks of stories of treacherous driving, power outages, and so many cancellations!
Unlike the sudden snow melt in Portland resulting in flooding, we still have plenty of snow where I live (four feet), and it is the hopeful slow conversion of solid to liquid that benefits both nature and human, the percolation of water back to the ground water table, a dependable supply of our most precious natural resource for next summer’s fish, for wetlands, for irrigation.
I was hoping to find an English word to describe a slow melting, and the closest word was thaw, so I turned to the Japanese and found “tokasu,” which also means thaw and interestingly, “a combing out.” However, it was the Inuit word (of course!) aniuk which translates into “snow for melting into water” that might be closest to the right description. I also discovered the Inuit word for the season’s first snow, apingaut, but no word that might describe what many here are hoping for….the last snow of winter. ~