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Fifty words for snow

Deb Hill
Yellowstone Newspapers

They say the Eskimos have 50 words for snow. I don’t speak Eskimo, so I can’t verify that -- but I expect it’s true, as I myself have developed quite a few snow terms.
Having lived in snow country since 1984, I’m intimately acquainted with the attributes of frozen precipitation. After all, I’ve been moving it around for over 30 years.
It doesn’t take much time with a snow shovel to learn there is more than one kind of snow. For example:
Fluffy snow: Very, very dry snow that doesn’t pack together. You can’t shovel fluffy snow. It’s too light and…well…fluffy. Pushing it with a snow shovel or deck broom does a pretty good job, as long as the wind isn’t blowing it right back where it was. But I’ve always wished I had a high-powered leaf blower, as I suspect that is the ultimate fluffy snow removal tool.
Packed snow: This is drift snow. Somehow when the wind moves snow that has already fallen, all of the air spaces go out of it. The result is hard enough to walk on, and must be cut out in blocks to remove. This is the other end of the spectrum from fluffy snow. You can shovel it with effort, but it might be just as easy to use the blocks you’ve cut with your snow shovel to build an igloo.
Crusty snow: After the storm comes the sun, yay! Don’t go celebrating too long, however. All that solar power on the freshly fallen snow means overnight it goes from removable to indelible. The best tool for chopping through the icy crust is a lawn edger (leaf blower, lawn edger – do you see the theme developing here?).
Compressed snow: This is what happens when your husband drives or tramps over the snow before you can remove it. Each footprint or tire print becomes welded to the ground. You can shovel all you want, but those tracks of compressed snow are still there. Left overnight, they turn into another category of white stuff, ice slick snow. Enjoy, because you will now have them to look at (or slip on) until spring.
Styrofoam snow: When the snow falls in tiny white beads that look just like the filling in a beanbag chair, it’s Styrofoam snow. Don’t try to fill a chair with it, though, unless your posterior needs cooling.
Squeaky snow: The noise snow makes when you walk on it in below zero temperatures. Removing squeaky snow isn’t harder, just colder. A pair of heated gloves makes the work survivable, but leads me to wonder: why hasn’t anyone invented a heated snow shovel?
Pretty snow: This is Hollywood movie snow. Huge flakes drift gently down, coating everything with a glistening blanket of white and causing trees to “bloom” with silvery crystalline blossoms. You may as well stop shoveling for a moment and enjoy the pretty snow, as it won’t last long. Within minutes the view is likely to turn to the more typical Montana snowfall: tiny, icy pellets being hurtled horizontally past you on the wind.
Stinging snow: What you get if you are looking into the wind at the moment when the pretty snow turns to tiny, icy pellets being hurtled at you horizontally.
Sticky snow: The snow shoveler’s nightmare, sticky snow makes snow removal 186 times more difficult. You bend, you scoop, you lift, you toss…and the snow remains firmly attached to the shovel. Every few scoops you must bang the shovel onto some hard surface to knock the sticky snow off it. With all the non-stick surfaces in use on kitchen tools today, you’d think snow shovel technology would be more advanced. “Look! This sticky snow just slides right off, along with this melted cheese. Order before the next snowstorm, and we’ll send you two Gotham Steel Non-Stick Shovels for just $19.99 plus shipping and handling.”
My snow dictionary doesn’t end here. Over the many hundreds of hours I have spent moving snow, I’ve developed quite a few other terms for it. However, the majority of these can’t be shared in polite company -- something I am sure is true of at least half of those 50 Eskimo words as well.


Upcoming Events

  • Friday, May 24, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, May 27, 2019 - 7:00am
    *American Legion Carbon County Post 17 Memorial Day schedule, May 27 7 a.m. Breakfast at Red Lodge Café 8:30 a.m. Memorial Service at Belfry Cemetery 9:30 a.m. Memorial Service at Bearcreek Cemetery 10:30 a.m. Parade through Red Lodge.  10:15 a.m. Meet at the corner of 14th and Broadway. Following parade there will be a lunch  at the Red Lodge Elk’s Lodge 11 a.m. Memorial Service at Red Lodge Cemetery 1:30 p.m. Parade in Roberts followed by Memorial Service at Roberts Cemetery. For further information contact Kenneth Beggs, Commander Carbon County Post 17 at   *The Clarks Fork American Legion Post 71 and the Joliet VFW Post 5748 will be doing Memorial Day services Monday, May 27. Rev. Robert Reed of the Joliet Baptist  Church will be the Speaker of the day.   The schedule for the day will be: 9 a.m. Services at the Gebo Cemetery. 9:30 a.m. March through Fromberg Main St. 10 a.m.   Services at Rockvale Cemetery 11 a.m. Services at Joliet Cemetery 11:30 a.m. March through Joliet Main St. A potluck lunch will be held at the  Joliet Community Center following the services.  Everyone is welcome to come. Any veterans who would like to help who haven’t been contacted can show up at the Gebo Cemetery at 8:45 a.m. Memorial Day or call Rich Pierce at 962-3320 or Jody Stene 962-3779.  
  • Monday, May 27, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.

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