Snowfall in the Texas Hill Country happens every few years, but it seldom lives up to the forecasts presented on the nightly news. If you are lucky, you witness a dusting that lingers on the ground for a few hours and then quickly melts.
Often enough, that snow only happens on somebody else’s ranch and anticipation gives way to resignation everywhere else as folks eager to see snow in Central Texas are reminded that winters here are pretty moderate.
In the afternoon hours of Dec. 31, 2020, however, it really snowed, at least along the Llano River about 25 miles west of the town of Mason where my family has gathered for decades to hunt, fish, hike, kayak, and enjoy the great outdoors. It snowed hard, big, beautiful flakes that accumulated on the ground, blanketed tree canopies, secreted the river from view, and silenced the landscape and all the living things on it.
For the first time, I hunted a whitetail deer in falling snow. It was a solitary experience I will long remember as I tracked the doe through snow. A few days ago I wrote about my visit to San Antonio’s dog parks with Cacteye, our rescue puppy who experienced snow for the first time Friday and appeared astonished that a stick I was throwing was disappearing, then turning white as he retrieved it.
This region of the Edwards Plateau is thinly populated. It’s customary to go days, even a week, without seeing another person or hearing another vehicle, but Friday it was an especially silent night as the last light gave way to snowy darkness.
The weather has nothing to do, of course, with this year of pandemic, but somehow the joy of experiencing falling snow felt like a spiritual moment, to be out in nature alone, marking the passage of 2020 and the advent of 2021. The snowfall seemed like a gift, a cleansing of sorts, a harbinger of better days ahead.