The Right Altitude

May Snow

A week ago I posted Wisteria photo taken the same day, so enamoured I was of its floriferous and fragrant presence. I called it a mature spring dream.

Today, just one week later I had the opportunity to observe a unique scientific reality—that is—higher elevations have cooler temperatures. And that dramatically affects the visual coming of spring.

I live in essentially the same easting and northing for the Wisteria photo and these weather photos below. All have been taken within a 5 mile by 5 mile square on a map. I can observe the weather at 500 meters above sea level—the Wisteria–no snow fall at all–only a cold spring rain.

And I can observe the weather at 1,500 meters above sea level which I did today. My easy access to these very different elevations is possible due to the well developed cog-wheel train system in operation year round in all weather conditions.

Today, at 1,500 meters and higher, I saw no crocus, no dandelion, no green. But I did have the joyous fun of a snowfall in mid Spring—large flakes in blizzard-like conditions up to 12” deep and sticking to all coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs.

Good fun.


800 meters above sea level–at this elevation there was no snowfall but you can see the dynamic cloud activity–up the faces of the cliffs–along the  valley floor–and the entire valley is covered and darkened by the low overcast.



1,500 meters above sea level–at this elevation I have entered the low overcast layer that caused the reduced light at 800 meters. Inside the overcast layer was snowing.



2,300 meters above sea level–at this level I have risen above the first overcast snowing and am now in snowfall from a higher overcast. This is where 12″ of snow had already fallen and the snow was still falling. A cog-wheel train at left.




…Act 1 of 3…Snow?

The temperature lowered, the clouds lowered, the precipitation began…then the gray. Lower and lower came that crazy gray infinite, reducing my vision…that enveloping grayness, proving how limited is our human sense of sight. Grayed out–sense of sight, sense of balance, even sense of gravity…dissolving…bit by bit…

…Act 2 of 3…

…then the snow. I have carried a dream, maybe just a memory for decades, more than fifty years–strangely vivid–I was told to count backwards from 10 and inhale slowly and deeply–it was a black mask over my nose and mouth and it was ether that I inhaled–I saw the gray background turn darker to almost black and gradually it became filled with white dots–soft white dots–like snowflakes not quite in focus–that is the dream and each time it returns, it has a comforting subtitle–this is how death will come, quietly like a snowfall beginning.

…Act 3 of 3…

Oh, but this is just a late spring snowfall–it’s not death–it’s not the return of winter…but, oh, for the briefest of moments, it was strangely exciting to feel, but inevitably, not sustainable.

…too busy…I almost missed Spring…11…next…last