Mid-November snows have begun to change the scene at the Alturas Lake ski area. It is true that a foot of snow has accumulated in many areas and Perkins Lake has frozen over, but a passing swan was seen serenely floating at the still open inlet of Perkins, sage brush still pokes proudly through the snow pack in open meadows and Alturas Lake is still free from ice, with dark cold water lapping at its shores. Grooming of trails has not yet begun for the season but the fact that Old Man Winter’s knocking at the door is getting to be hard to ignore. The groomers’ snowmobiles are presently being readied for service, with extra fans and radiators being added to prevent overheating this year. Last year’s hot headed groomers, Vladimir and Estragon are no longer with us, and perhaps it is a blessing, although they will be hard to replace. Much beloved by many, they were still irascible fools and it turns out, illegal aliens to boot. The two were captured in a swift raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, yes, that’s ICE, and they were deported back to Moldavia after a brief prison stay. We wish them all the best.