mountain river in winter at night

Let it snow! There is beauty in a white landscape, snowflakes looking like crystals falling from an opaque sky, the pleasure of total silence while walking, and cardinals perched in snow-laden trees like glimmering red ornaments. 

A blizzard also makes us appreciate getting cozy inside our abodes. Fireplaces were designed for storms like this. So was hot chocolate. A good day to read a book, make something in a crockpot, clean a closet or write a column. 

Then, there is a certain reality that sets in, like the horror of driving (I-17 was a nightmare) and simple tasks, like getting mail, walking to the car, navigating steps, making it up the driveway, become something out of a “Mission Impossible” movie. Let’s get a cabin in Flagstaff for the weekend. It would be fun, they said! So lovely to play in the snow. Grandkids will go sledding. We can make a snowman. Oh yeah, it is all good, if you like shoveling, freezing, sliding and driving in zero visibility. Hey, snowstorms are dangerous! 

Snowplows, where art thou? Why stay so hidden when we are buried in drifts of heavy snow? Yes, I know, the Prescott area is a mile-high community, and with plenty of steep driveways, roads and ditches, it is a monumental task to clean the streets. One foot of snow and here comes Armageddon. We are battling for our survival! Folks shoveling and then veering off the driveways and landing in culverts. People unable to control their vehicles as they slide down roads barreling toward Highway 69. 

Hospital emergency rooms fill up with folks breaking hips and legs. My landscaper slid down an embankment and broke his arm. A big shout out to our first responders, busy with rescues. Yikes, even my neighbor’s chicken got stuck in a snowbank in her pen and had to be “unstuck.” A few folks found themselves unable to open their front doors or dig themselves out of the mess called “snow.” All types of rescues occur during a storm like this. Yet, we are so happy to get the moisture!

Better weather is in the Valley of the Sun. But wait, there were rivers of rain and even a dusting of snow in Wickenburg, Anthem and New River. OK, not really snow. It’s called graupel, which is granular snow pellets, also called soft hail. Well, it sure looks like snow! Beauty is a hillside of saguaros that are all white. Breathtaking and weird. When snow (graupel) comes to the Valley, it is more like a celebration. Kids and dogs out playing in it. People of all ages grabbing handfuls of the white stuff to throw at a friend (usually melting before it lands). It’s sort of comical to see folks walking around in Phoenix in boots, coats and mittens! Hey, we can all be part of the Bernie Sanders meme. Heavy jacket, face mask and knitted mittens are the new fashion statement! So, let’s not graupel about a few inches or feet of snow. Just stay safe out there.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at