The pandemic of 2020 has me grateful to be able to remain active at home, the circumstances resembling winter in that regard. I opened my diary to this note:

Nov. 20, 2016. A severe snowstorm, nationally itemized as “historic” for New Mexico, came last night. In downtown Santa Fe, we got a respectable snowfall.

It was cold, and on the secondary downtown street where I live, the powdery snow even through this evening was to become compacted down and slippery, but not icy or refrozen. Late afternoon I had brought in my farolitos from under the front of the portal to set them out again and light them later unclogged by the heavy snow forecast for last night by the National Weather Service.

The main storm was a real blizzard. Two feet of snow fell across east central and southeast areas along and east of the Pecos River, according to a local news report. Interstate 40 east of Albuquerque was closed for many hours and Santa Fe was shut off from regular delivery of many goods from the east. When I swept aside the bedroom curtain this morning, a total of six good inches had already topped each adobe gatepost standing across the alley amid a rail fence extending, to the right, beneath the boughs of a small ponderosa pine, behind the snow-begotten green trash bins, to the end post with the old mailbox in it.

Eighteen miles away, on the mountain at the ski basin, the three feet of powder that the strong wind replaced before every run, was ideal. (Travel up Highway 475, Hyde Park Road, was easier than the trip back down, according to one experienced mountain driver.) I worked in town that afternoon. It appeared to me that skiers/winter tourists were all around, roundly satisfied with a snow-covered, sunlit apres ski, the cold snow remaining with its accent on the street signs and architecture.

I longed for my 40-year-old Minolta camera to shoot snow on adobe, and then engaged two intrepids with impressive lenses on digital cameras hung around their necks, right there in case a good shot came up, like I would be, ready with the camera I was lacking. They were sun-tanned, smiling and relaxed, apparently hours on the slopes, while still having time to capture the whole scene for the record. Both husbands, they were members of a healthy foursome, independent photographers, each free in his own way with his own gear to shoot, though standing only three feet from the other, in different ways the same event, even the approach of separately bundled up wives approaching up San Francisco Street in the cold mid-morning.

A precipitous winter was aptly awaited this year as already several snow storms had graced mountain and valley. As to this one, reportage would be brought down from the slopes for days about the snow, while our black ravens’ obliviousness to the weather, timeless, was symbolic of the relatively, by human standards, light snowfall on Agua Fría Street.

Twenty-five degrees was the high as tourists and skiers, joining parka-techies and the well-layered among the locals, proceeded in the elements — the crystal-frigid desert air and brilliant sunlit mountaintops — all human appreciation when, returning from the day and the terrain, various adventures and viewpoints would be recounted into the night by the piñon fire in a 21st-century cantina. Santa Fe is sometimes like a winter time perhaps whose beauty refers again to the light of the constant and beautiful sun.

Jay Impellizzeri has lived in Santa Fe for 27 years.

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