Lifestyle: Snow Recollections

“I love snow,” I used to say, “as long as it’s on that mountaintop over there — and I’m
down here.” At the time, we were living in Claremont, California, and as I spoke I would
point toward snowcapped Mount Baldy, towering over the eastern horizon but still some 20
miles distant as the crow flies. In the three decades that we lived in Southern California,
I can count on my fingers the number of times I was in that snow — and have a pinkie or
two left over. I just don’t care for the stuff, or the temperatures associated with it.
That’s why, despite the fact that we have our primary residence in Idaho, our motorhome is
usually headed south in late October or early November. Actually, there have been a few
times when I enjoyed snow. As a kid growing up in Illinois, I looked forward to the
exciting games and adventures that always accompanied a good, thick blanket of white
powder. At the one-room country school I attended, lunchtime and recesses were usually
spent playing games like fox-and-goose or having snowball fights. But that, as they say,
was a long time ago. When we moved from Southern California to Idaho more than two decades
ago, we never planned on staying the winter — ever. Prior to our move, however, we had to
spend six weeks there while arranging for a house to be built, and those six weeks just
happened to fall in November and December. As fate would have it, the snow came early and
deep. By keeping our motorhome’s awning rolled out without extending the arms, I managed to
maintain a relatively clear spot at our doorway, but that’s as far as it went. To prevent
the awning from ripping under the weight of the snow, I kept bouncing the stuff off of it.
Eventually it piled up into a formidable wall all around the perimeter. I had to keep a
trench cleared through it so we could get out of our “snow cave.” During that snowbound
experience, we happened to have our two very young granddaughters (then four and six) with
us for several days. Naturally, I had to take them sledding on a borrowed toboggan, which,
of course, I pulled while they rode. At the time, I was in great physicalcondition so there
were no problems. That is, until I decided to take a ride on my own on a steep, untested
hill. While traipsing around to get some perspective on house-building on our property with
the site deep in snow, I placed the toboggan at the top of the hill on which our planned
house was to be built. The run looked steep, but certainly doable, so I climbed aboard and
kicked off. Wow! What a thrilling ride — until I hit bottom. The toboggan tried to play
submarine in a big snowdrift and I was thrown off. I rolled a few times in the snow, unhurt
and roaring with glee. Then suddenly it struck me: Hey, I’m alone out here and no one
really knows where I am. What if I had broken an arm or a leg? Then, too, I found myself
reversing an old law of physics that I hadn’t confronted in quite the same way since, well,
since I was 10: When it comes to sledding, what comes down must also go back up. As I
trudged back up the hill, barely able to slog my way through the deep snow, I concluded
that that was my last hurrah as a sledder. A few years into our new home, we got a request
from our two daughters, who lived in Coeur d’Alene, to stick around until Christmas so we
could have a family get-together. That sounded reasonable, so we agreed to put off our
annual trek to Yuma. The plans were actually made that summer, during which our two
granddaughters spent most of their time with us. One afternoon as we were walking in the
woods, we decided to pick out the Christmas tree that we would have in December. We found a
nice one, and I mentally tagged it for cutting at the appropriate time. Around the middle
of December, when the snow was deep and the girls again were with us, we got out the
toboggan and trudged into the woods with a saw. For the first time since I was a kid on a
farm in Illinois, I cut our own Christmas tree. I ended up dragging the tree with one hand
and pulling the girls on the toboggan with the other. It was an exhausting trip back to the
house, but well worth the effort. That memory, like most of my snow recollections, is fun
to recall. I’ll probably dust them all off again this December — as I sit in the sunshine
on my patio in Yuma, margarita in hand.

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