Here’s the scenario: You’ve been hearing the sound of raindrops on the roof for hours, when it suddenly stops.
Here’s the question: How should you interpret this phenomenon?
Here are the options: It’s possible (taking a broad view) that you have just been transported to Mars, where it doesn’t rain. It’s also possible, if unlikely, that you have gone suddenly deaf.
Leaving aside these somewhat farfetched possibilities, you might conclude that it has stopped raining. Seeing as how it’s June in the Northern Hemisphere, this would be the most obvious conclusion—and the correct one, except that there’s a hidden assumption underlying that statement: “It’s stopped raining” generally implies “It’s stopped precipitating.” And while the former statement is currently true, the latter is false.
In other words, my good friends, it has started snowing.
This is not entirely unexpected; I’ve been watching the weather carefully for days and spent much of yesterday mulching my corn to within an inch of its life (likewise the potatoes) and devising wraps and covers for strawberries and cherries in flower. But midday temperatures were predicted to be near fifty, not the thirty-five we’ve actually got. It wasn’t supposed to get this cold until about three a.m., and snow here in Bozeman proper was an outside possibility.
The last time it snowed in Bozeman on June 6th was in 2001, our first year in town, when six inches of heavy, wet snow brought down newly leafed-out tree limbs all over the city. Also the occasional electrical wire. It was a week before all the roads were cleared, and months before all the piles of branches got carted away.
At that time, I had no garden, no cherry tree, no stake in the matter, though I do remember swinging a broom to knock snow off my elderly neighbor’s fruit trees. This time it’s different; this time it’s personal. If it keeps up, my lovely delphinium will keel over, and even if it doesn’t, I’m wondering whether the seeds I planted yesterday will all rot in the ground. Dag nab it.
But wait—I hear raindrops again. So I’m wondering, will it snow again? Will it freeze? Should I throw a plastic sheet over the newly seeded bed? Will my corn, potatoes, cherry tree, and strawberries make it through? Will the power go out? Which makes me wonder: Why didn’t I buy lamp oil after the last power outage? Dag nab it.