Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, March 6, 2011

She Who Seeks Snow

My oldest son has been here for the weekend. The time together is wonderful but never long enough.  He came up Friday night and left this morning. It was a good visit.

Yesterday, at breakfast,, we were talking about SNOW and how we hadn't had any this year except for a light dusting that melted quickly. "M", our son, said "Why don't we take a drive up into the mountains and find some?" The Prospector and I agreed that this was a great idea.
We packed some warm clothing, took the four wheel drive Toyota and headed out. We drove up highway 88 through Pine Grove and Pioneer. Right around Buckhorn we started seeing snow under the trees.
By the time we got up to Mace Meadows we were really getting into the heavy white stuff. It was beautiful...
We passed Cooks Station...
And on up into the Eldorado National Forest.
We finally got to the turn off for Lower Bear Reservoir but realized that the road down into the campground was not being maintained. The signs said it all...
And this...
So we went back out to the highway and continued on to Silver Lake. If you didn't know there was a lake there you would never have guessed. It looked like a huge meadow filled with snow.
There were some people out there with snowshoes walking across the lake. 
It was so lovely. I wish we could have been out there too.
We finally climbed up and drove through the Carson Spur which is an avalanche area of the pass that makes me hold my breath every time. It's almost easier in the winter because you can't see the distance down into the wilderness canyon with snow on the sides of the road. Last week, on the news, they showed this section of the road and Caltrans had opened a very small one lane section of the highway for traffic to get through. Only one way traffic was allowed at a time. We were more fortunate. It was cleared for two lane traffic and because it was around noon, there was no ice. I still don't like this stretch of highway. It makes me nervous and I tell everyone not to talk or the vibrations might start an avalanche. Yes, I'm a big baby about this but if you saw this place you would understand. IT'S REALLY SCARY!! I don't even understand why someone put a ROAD way up here. It's crazy.

Finally we reached our destination.
KIRKWOOD RESORT. This is where we all learned to ski about 30 years ago.  The boys were about 11 and 16 years old then. It was raining so hard we almost decided not to go. We got up at 4:00 a.m. and joined a caravan of friends from the neighborhood. It was raining so hard that morning and we knew that it would be snowing heavily up in the mountains, but we went anyway.
Our next door neighbor had promised he would make skiers out of all of us. He did.
It was the most amazing thing I have ever done. Going up on a ski lift in a snow storm was like nothing else in this rather normal life of mine. There was no other reason that anyone would have been out there in that kind of weather than to ski. It was an experience I have never had since. I can remember thinking, as I rode up on the ski lift, that this was one of those moments that would never be forgotten and I can still feel the snow blowing across my face and the power of mother nature. It was a life changing experience until I had to get off the ski lift gracefully. I didn't. I fell. But my neighbor and the Prospector were waiting for me and picked me up and so the lessons on the "bunny slope" began.
We went up there to ski once or twice after that. We took the boys to other ski resorts, but usually they skied and we watched. I was getting very tired all the time and didn't feel like doing anything that required as much energy as this. It was a year later that I found out, at 39 years of age, that I had cancer.
I don't talk about it much. It was a life changing year in my life but the experience of learning to ski in a snowstorm at Kirkwood will forever be captured in my memory. It made me fight harder and survive a year of what I called "living dangerously". It was a year of being braver than I had ever been before. Skiing made me understand that I could learn how to survive.... even in a "snowstorm".
I don't have a great desire to ski now. I would probably kill myself just getting to the ski lift or putting on all the equipment.It's a sport for folks a lot younger than me. But in my heart, when I watched the skiers coming down the slopes yesterday, I wanted to be up there. I wanted that feeling again... The cold, the skill required, and the excitement that you feel. It's a wonderful place to be and I will always remember the joy of accomplishment when I finally came down an intermediate slope all by myself. It gave me courage that I took into the difficult years ahead.

So, moving on....
We parked, and walked around the amazing outdoor venue. It was much different that years ago. Bigger, with a lot more stores and restaurants. More noise, more advertising.... Lots of people sitting, with or without someone, looking at their i phones and not at the beautiful scenery.
We found the bathrooms, bought some hot chocolate, took pictures and watched people. Most everyone was having a great time.

Wearing funny hats...
Of course I would notice a KNITTED hat like this! Isn't it amazing?
There were lots of signs telling you what to do and where to go. There were signs about the history of this place and about the pioneers that came through here on their way to the dream that was called California.
It made me kind of proud that I'm a native daughter.
There was a little boy that reminded me of my youngest son, when he was little.
This little man was making a huge snowball on top of a hill. He told us to "Watch out." and then he pushed it over the snowbank and it crashed on the walk below. I'm glad he said something because it was a BIG snowball.
And another boy who reminded me of "M" when he was young. Lot's of memories here it seems.
 Memories of a beautiful place....
Where the mountain peaks never change...
and the slopes still call folks to come and be at one with them.... to learn something about yourself and what you're made of.
Memories of going where I had never gone before.

We left Kirkwood and headed back down into the foothills before the coming rain and snow that was predicted by night fall. The clouds looked ominous. We drove through the Carson Spur again.
and as we descended, the snow reduced in volume as the elevation signs went from 8000 ft to 7000 ft.... down to 6000 ft. and then 5000 ft., where the sun was trying to come through the clouds..
and a small pine tree said "Come back again."
We drove back to Jackson, picked up the mail on the highway and drove down our lovely river road. I made big beef burritos for dinner..... and brownies with ice cream for dessert.

"M" left this morning. We will miss him. He lives in Oakland and is a very busy man, with a job that keeps him working hard.  I'm so glad that he came up here this weekend. He left relaxed and rested... and with some brownies.
I'm always happy when my family comes to visit. My children come with their own set of  memories and everything that they remember is not always the same as mine, but life goes forward and that's as it should be. They are building their own memories.... their own lives.
We are proud parents. We were not perfect but we did our best and we have two sons that have become wonderful human beings..... who (like their mother) love computers, poetry, a good book, good food chocolate and SNOW.
Life is sure good sometimes....


  1. Oh Connie, I feel like I spent the day with you on the mountain! Love it, the pictures and the story. What a sweet shot of your young son, they grow up sooooo fast.

    Thanks so much for swinging by and leaving such a sweet comment. We would LOVE to have you guys, any ole time you can make it. Planning a fall class right now, c'mon over!! I think it will involve PMC if you're interested. Hugs, Riki

  2. You have such a way of weaving several "stories" into one, and making us feel like we're right there, watching. Seeing the little boy who reminded you of your son made me laugh because this has happened to me, when I least expected it!
    I'm sorry to hear that you had years of struggling with health issues. And I'm very glad things worked out for you.
    Best wishes!

  3. Thank you for taking us down memory lane farmlady. As scary as it was! I'm glad that ski lesson taught you how to face the challenge you faced ahead!

  4. I enjoyed this very much. Your pictures are great as usual. Thanks for sharing your memories with us the good and the bad. The difficult time we have make us stronger. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  5. smokers! that was a wonderful post
    I love that you went looking for snow...how fun is that...
    You describe a family that is worthy of all it has...blessings to you farmlady
    not one precious moment wasted

  6. Wow. I don't know what to comment on first. Wait, yes I do... days spent with our sons are really the best, aren't they? And it's a funny thing about memories - people can live through the same events and come out of them with totally different thoughts and reflections on them. It can be painful to hear someone else's "take" that is so opposite from what you remember from that time.
    Life is truly bittersweet, isn't it. Your skiing story is a powerful one. You challenged yourself to learn and this, in turn, helped you to survive one of the biggest challenges of your life. Incredible.
    Happy for you that you had such a wonderful weekend. ((hug))

  7. Oh Riki, you flatter me. That wasn't my young son. He was just a little boy who was there with the crowd. My sons are 36 and 41 now. I"M OLD.

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  9. Funny! I thought that was an “old” picture of your son! Guess I didn’t read thoroughly enough! Have a great day. Hugs, Riki

  10. Sometimes you just have to go find what makes your heart soar. All of those memories, good and bad really came flooding back in such a beautiful place. I'm glad you are a survivor!

  11. Charming BagladyMarch 7, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Well, look at you-------a skier! Who’da thunk it? I thought you said I was the brave one when we were growing up together. You had one of the toughest challenges of all to face. You fought cancer and BEAT IT! (Play theme from “Rocky” here!)
    Back to skiing, HA! Just call me sissy-----you couldn’t get me on a pair of downhill skis if my life depended on it; I am terrified of falling. I tried out cross-country skis once. After trudging almost 6 feet, the dog walked in front of me and we landed in a tangle with her sustaining a serious gash to her side. I couldn’t get the skis off fast enough; rushed my baby to the vet for a couple of stitches and never put on skis again.
    Here in Michigan we have all this beautiful snow and (except for the upper peninsula) no mountains. But we do have “ski areas”. The one near us actually has a ski lift with a vertical climb of . . . are you ready? . . . 250 feet! Isn’t that a hoot?
    I think California’s Sierra-Nevada mountains can compete for beauty against anyplace in the world. They are one of the few things I miss about California. I’m glad you got to enjoy some snow! ~Dawn

  12. I love it when you tour my old home, but even more so this revelation about your struggle. You inspired me. I too loved the mountains, but I had my mettle tested in the summer, backpacking into those magnificent mountains. The mountains are good for testing and proving our inner strength is more than we know. I'm glad you survived cancer. (My attitude is improving with my illness now. I think we go threw a shock stage first). Jojo's scarflet is so pretty too! From one cancer survivor to another.
    I love the knitted cap. The mountains have always spoken to me, always and more than the beach. That photo with the tree and the halo effect around it is purely amazing!!!!!
    Thank you for the special trip and story from your heart.
    I love you.

  13. Connie, This is a beautiful post. My favorite part is when you said "and a small pine said 'Come back again."
    I love it when our children come home.
    (It is hard to type when a corgi is licking your hand)(and now she has her nose on the laptop.)
    Isn't it wonderful how life (especially nature) gives you what you need...that the day on the mountain with the snow in your face gave you the strength to fight the poison that you had in your body? I love that. I think we are kindred souls. I love your quotes.
    I love that you guys said "let's go find some snow." and you did. xo, Cheryl

  14. What a beautiful, powerful post! Wow. I am speechless.

    Thank you for sharing your incredible journey!

  15. Lawsy, another make me tear up post. You sure have a way of doing that hon! It's a good thing. Happy tears from enjoying a look at your wonderful life. It's the words and the love you put in them. You have a talent...well you have lots of talents!!

    Courageous too. I'm sorry about your cancer but thrilled you skied right through it :)


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