I Miss Snow

Missing pieces: The 10-day challenge

Paul Coogan
May 7 · 4 min read

Today is day three of a 10-day writing challenge. There is not too much to say about the challenge as the only requirement is to write and publish for 10 consecutive days. That in itself is enough of a challenge as my usual cadence is three to four a week.

There used to be snow. It was not much snow, but it was always nearby. I know the snow still exists but it has changed.

Growing up in Sacramento, my family would head for the Sierra’s in late fall. Sitting in the back of the station wagon it was a thrill to see that first patch of snow alongside the road or under a tree. A promise of more to come. It was never long before the snow was piled higher than the car, edges rough and dirty where the plow had pushed it aside. The occasional gap gave glimpses of trees draped in white.

Sledding was the destination but in retrospect, we did not sled, we tobogganed or inner tubed on the snow. To this day I have no idea how a sled with steel runners and a supposed steering mechanism works. Maybe Citizen Kane took the secret of Rosebud with him.

At some point in the early 70’s, I tried skiing which without lessons was just stand-up sledding. The convenience of a rope tow followed by hoping the ride would stop before the plate glass window of the chalet.

Photo of Author and Cousin doing standup sledding. Photo courtesy of author.

Many years later I would be living in Pasadena at the base of the Angeles Crest Highway, a short drive to two local ski areas. Kratka Ridge was the lower elevation and smaller of the two but had immense charm. It was truly family-run. One daughter would sell you a lift ticket while another would be on ski patrol, the older brothers at each end of the lift, and after sunset, all of them playing bluegrass in the beer garden.

There were good snow years and bad but generally declining over the years. The top end of the rope tow would have the bare ground covered in carpet scraps to allow finishing the climb. It was daring to have a ski area at such a low elevation but the gradual warming has eventually forced the family to sell the property to the larger resort which had the resources to do snowmaking (misting large amounts of water into the freezing night air).

Snow seeking moved to Big Bear but it was all man-made snow most of the time. It lacked the sense of winter as you came down the hill looking at green and brown hillsides. The lake too showed a brown rim where the water levels had dropped for lack of rain and draining to make snow.

Moving even higher, Mammoth became the new destination with enough snow to have multiple resorts and runs of every level. It was here I enjoyed the back slope where the silence was golden. I loved to stop a few times going down to stop and listen to the quiet.

Tahoe City shopping center draped in snow, icicles, and slush. Photo courtesy of the author.

Snow is more than silence, it has many sounds. The squishy splat of slush, the squeak and crunch of dry pack, and the soft whoosh of powder breaking around a boot. I miss the sounds of snow

Snow has the energy of cold. The cold air pure and fresh makes you stretch your lungs to get it all in. Snow is invigorating to land in or have it slide down the inside of your shirt. A flake on the face quickly melts as soon as its kiss complete. I miss the feel of snow.

Snow reflects and dazzles, making even the dullest surfaces sparkle. It rounds the corners of buildings and turns picnic tables into boulders. It illuminates the woods filling shadows with soft light. I miss the look of snow.

Icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland. Photo by the author.

The last snow I saw was an iceberg the size of Manhattan floating off the coast of Newfoundland. The icebergs were thrilling to see but also sad indicators of global warming. Please consider the snow in everything you do.

Day two of the challenge can be read here.

10 in 10 Challenge

10 stories in 10 days

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