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Moon Rings, Six Ps & Flexibility

A few hours before dawn morning before last, I went outside to take a leak down in the center of the meadow and have a long look at the stars. A beautifully distinct ring graced the waning moon, so I stretched out on the ground—careful not to lay down on top of my pee puddle—to enjoy it while it lasted. Folklore regarding moon rings warning of approaching storms drifted into random thoughts as I settled to sleep trying to count all of the stars faintly glowing within the ring, recalling the number of stars between moon and ring had something to do with severity of the storm.

Waking at sunrise stiff and chilled beneath a thick overcast of low, gray and white clouds, I started a fire in the house stove and watched through the kitchen windows facing south at its smoke being beaten down to the ground by gently shifting, almost-vertical wind currents. Yanking out smartphone for a quick check on regional weather forecasts confirmed growing suspicion. Sure enough, snow was approaching from the northwest. A lot of snow. I began planning for it while cooking breakfast, having little doubt in natural signs bolstered by meteorologist predictions.

Scientifically referred to as a 22° halo due to angle of refraction of light from source to observer through hexagonal ice crystals suspended in high, thin clouds (called Sun Dogs or Parhelions when the Sun is the light source, the hyperphysics of both are even more interesting), moon rings do not necessarily portend stormy weather, but the odd post-dawn winds reinforced belief in the natural signs, signs I have learned to trust over technology. I set to work immediately after breakfast making preparations anyway. The six Ps (Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance) rule has consistently prevented inconvenience and irksome trouble throughout my adult life, so prepping for a deep snow continued without delay and I began looking forward to a nice, thick blanket of the glorious stuff.

Wrapping up the work well before noon, the sky then cleared and temperatures soared into the high 50s. What the . . . ? It's the 9th of January, for Jake's sake! Disappointing. We really need snow here. It's been months since there has been any precipitation of significant amount. I was looking forward to as many feet as would fall, hoping to be snowed in for days, if not weeks into the future. No matter. Maybe it will rain a little later and stir up delightful organic aerosols. I needed the exercise and outdoor time anyway, having been inside too long working on various project tasks for clients. And in addition to the six Ps rule, staying flexible is another hallmark of proactive living which has always served me well.

Last year at this time I was tightly rationing water after both generators had failed and I wasn't able to pump the well, eking out almost five weeks of life-sustaining liquid from what little remained in the cistern, possibly less than 300 gallons. Searching the web for affordable replacement generators, I found a dual-fuel model in Raton and one in Monument City which were perfect for the application. Scrimping and saving for a new generator and gasoline to go fetch it from either of the nearest equipment company locations, I feared a heavy snow would trap me before I could make the journey to either place. I reminded myself to stay flexible. If it snowed, I could melt snow until I could get down to the highways where snowplows run to go fetch the new generator. If the weather held until my next paycheck, then everything would be fine.

When the bi-monthly paycheck auto-deposited into my account, I hit the road hours before a snowstorm rolled down from Colorado on February 4th and made my way north as calmly as I could to pick up the generator. Leaving Raton at dark, just as it started snowing, and safely making it back south across high plains and foothills without hitting antelope, elk, bear or livestock along the route home in time to unload and get it set up in the power shed, the blizzard picked up pace while I sipped hot tea, worked on a bit of code and giggled maniacally at my good fortune, preparation and flexibility. The only damage incurred: a $7 low-balance fee on my credit union checking account after buying the generator and gasoline. Totally acceptable.

The six Ps and flexibility. A formidable combination.

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