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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

Wild Card

This week’s weather goes something like this; snow, snow again, more snow, clear and warming, more warming, thunderstorms and tornado warnings. The weather here is a wild card, it can freeze or snow or be balmy any given day from November to March. Usually though it doesn’t do any one of these for any length of time – but this year we drew the wild card. Weeks and weeks of well below freezing, snow and cold, frozen ponds and roof top icicles catching the bright weak sun.


The birds fly at the windows if I forget to fill the feeders and the neighboring ostriches (there is a small farm nearby) are grazing tree branches while standing in the snow. That’s right – ostriches and snow. A world of wild cards. Which is not to say it is without beauty.

 Yesterday walking in the woods I came up 7 deer nests. All tamped down into different sizes, fawns and yearlings, does and a buck had been there just hours before, sleeping in a quiet, glistening world. The late fall grasses waver a muted amber over the meadow where all the ruts and bumps have disappeared under the cover of a startling white, and when the sky clears and the sharp blue winter pushes back lines well, it is startlingly lovely.

I knew when I moved here and saw advertisements for tractors and corn seed that San Francisco was a long way off, this was  somewhere I had never been before, not just the where of it but the how and why of it. I have been here over 25 years now, way longer than anywhere else, and I have grown used to the conversations about the weather. The local saying goes – if you don’t like it just wait 15 minutes, another front will be along. But not this year – it’s like I live in the northern most reaches of the northeast, or Minnesota, or Norway. A wild card winter.

Weather is by nature unpredictable, it reminds how little control we actually have over anything outside of ourselves. In poker you’re glad for the wild card you’re dealt, you can turn it into a three of a kind or with more luck a flush, or at least a straight.  But in the everyday world a wild card is most often buried in the deck, and you never really know what will happen.

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