The road opened onto a wide snow-covered plain. Blue pine-covered mountains with fondant layers of snow reigned in the distance, surrounding the west and north views of valley. The east side was more windswept, yet flanked, too, with snow capped peaks that melted into treeless brown lazy lumps of snow-sprinkled hills, sagebrush poking up like stubble on an unshaven face. Pregnant white and grey clouds mimicked the outlining mountains, ringing the sky in kind fashion, brilliant blue the dome. The wind icy and brisk, kept man and beast hidden away and sheltered. Though the sun shown brightly through the clouds, a sense of foreboding blew with the wind.
Dotted here and there in the vast landscape stood a forelorn low-slung farm house, one kept company by a few weather-beaten out buildings and three squat, grey metal silos. Horses grazed on baled hay, thanks to someone’s hard summer work. A curious row of fat green pine trees marched in a diagonal line along the edge of a field. Further down in a similar angle stood a long line of naked Poplars, the wind having won the contest for this icy season, all the leaves blown away.
Without fanfare it began. Sharp ice crystals let loose a torrent, a barrage on the land, mocking the sun as they struck over and over again anything between the sky and the earth. They flew as if knowing their time was short, all the more harried must be their escape from the heavy clouds. Just a few degrees change and they would melt into freezing rain, coating the whole world in a suffocating, clear coat of ice.
To the onlooker the ice was beautiful, glistening crystal, a wonder of nature perfect for photography buffs. If one was encapsulated, it was restrictive, binding all it captured in a tight, unforgiving clench that nearly squeezed the life out of its icy prisoner. Unrelenting, the ice shards hit with staccatoed ferocity one would not soon forget if caught out in it.
On and on blew the wind, driving the tiny missiles horizontally for a ways, then furiously crashing them downward to the ground. Horses sought shelter in loafing sheds, behind and under trees, in recesses of the valley floor… anywhere to find relief from the pelting ice and wind.
The sky turned a shade of dirty gray as the wind whipped over the craggy mountains, faster and more unrestricted than a bobsledder in wild abandon as it careened and swirled through the valley, driving the ice particles before it. At times one could hear a “Whee!” whistling in the wind, as though exclaiming its sheer delight in blowing.
Suddenly the howling stopped, as though a strong muzzle had been clamped over the jaws of the storm. The pelting simply… vanished.
The wind slowed, and in the brightness of the sun the earth and it’s habitants began to warm… as abruptly as it had come the capricious wind and storm had had their fun, and danced away over the mountains looking for a new place to play.