I promise, this will be my very last post about the snow and winter and everything cold. It’s almost spring, the seasons are about to change, what more is there to say? Right? Turns out I have a lot to say, so I need this one last post, to get it all out…
I’ll admit it, I didn’t have any idea what a real winter was like before this year. I wasn’t totally oblivious – I spent time in the snow every year, as a tourist. My family spent Christmas in Idyllwild many many times over the years. I thought I “got” snow. But there’s something about living with it, that is very different than visiting it. I also fully understand that dealing with a little snow is a lot better than dealing with bitter cold, and I’m very grateful that we don’t get that kind of weather here in Idyllwild. Even at it’s coldest, it’s never too bad – this is Southern California, after all.
So I’m not complaining – really I’m not! But I have noticed a few interesting things this winter and thought I’d share my top ten!
First, I think it’s kind of funny that I came to Idyllwild thinking it would probably be a light year for snow. I don’t know why I thought that? It wasn’t based on anything I’d heard or read, just my own personal desire. But I was really wrong. In December we got the second largest snowfall since 1947, and the power was out for four days – something that hasn’t happened in at least 30 years. In January very little new snow fell, but February so far has had the fourth highest snowfall totals on record – so not only was it not a light year for snow, it was a record year.
Second, I’ve been surprised at how different the snowfall can vary between different locations within Idyllwild. The official snowfall total for the big December storm was 21 inches downtown, but the elevation of the downtown area is only about 5400 feet, and where I live at 6800 feet, we got well over 36 inches in that same storm. The totals were very similar in last week’s storm – downtown got 18.7 and we got just under 36 inches.
Third, I’ve learned that snow can blow sideways, and if it does, there will be pockets that are really deep. The storm last week dumped about three feet of snow here, over six days, but I heard about a guy who had snow drifts five feet high, because of that sideways-blowing snow. Can you even imagine? Three feet is tough enough, you sink up to your thighs, and it’s difficult to get around, but you can do it. With five feet of snow, you’d be literally stuck. Even if you wanted to shovel out, where would you heave the excess snow? I know I couldn’t heave it up over my head for very long! I almost hope the story was a bit of an exaggeration – maybe he only had four feet? I might be able to deal with four feet…
Fourth, I’ve noticed that the area near the entrance to Idyllwild gets a lot more sun than we do, and so the snow melts much faster on that side of town. They get less snow to begin with, and it melts super fast, so living on the South side of town has some real advantages, if you want to live a somewhat normal life in winter, and be able to get in and out easily.
Fifth, I’ve noticed that different people deal with the snow very differently. Some dig out immediately, and are bopping around town right after a storm ends. Others will let their cars stay buried for a week, and just burrow into their warm little homes. That contrast was super-apparent to me today as I watched a guy in shorts, jog along the side of the road, right in front of homes with cars totally buried under two feet of snow. Everybody deals differently!
Sixth, I’ve noticed that nearly everyone in Idyllwild drives a green Subaru with All-Wheel Drive – as do I – but with me it was not a choice, it was more chance, and I plan to trade it in at some point – but not until winter is officially over. All-Wheel Drive rocks in the snow! When other cars are spinning on the slick icy pavement, I’ve been fine. This car may not have been a choice for me, but I’m really happy to have it right now. But it is sort of weird to see so many others driving the exact same car as I do. It’s like we’re all members of the Idyllwild Green Subaru Club.
Seventh, I’ve noticed the tourists stop way too soon to play in the snow. Some don’t even make it into town, they stop at the first patch of white they see, even when the roads are not icy and totally safe. That’s fine, if they’re happy with patchy snow that isn’t very deep, and is usually kind of dirty after a few days – but if they want better snow, all they have to do is drive into town. Plus, if they get into the downtown area there are restaurants where you can warm up after playing and get a great meal. It’s a win-win to come all the way into town! The tourists would have more fun, and the merchants would have more customers.
Eighth, I’ve learned how to really build a good fire – not a wimpy little fire on Christmas Eve for atmosphere, or a fire at the beach to roast marshmallows, but a real rip-roaring-fire that keeps the whole house warm. The secret is air, and thin spaces between the logs, that cause a sucking whoosh of air, that carries the fire up. Who knew?
Ninth, I’ve learned that snow can be treacherous. Today I was slogging through two-feet deep snow, and didn’t realize that the ground below sloped down. It was that darn sideways snow again. It didn’t fall evenly, so you never know how deep it is, and I got tricked in an unfamiliar area, and twisted my ankle – not fun.
Tenth, I’ve learned that you really can wear snow boots with a skirt – up here – not anywhere else. As long as they match in style and color, no one is going to look at you askance if you take a fashion risk, and wear brown fur boots with a brown skirt. Just be sure and take your regular shoes with you, so you can change once you get down off the hill, because down in the real world that kind of a fashion risk is just not happening!