On the Bright Side
March 4, 2023
It's hard to imagine what the weather will be like when you read this, but as I sit here writing a column for this week's paper, it is snowing steadily outside and there is plenty of the white stuff already on the ground. Much more is predicted for tonight and over the next several days. Snow is on my mind.
I like the snow, generally speaking. I especially like the snow in Tehachapi as it rarely lasts very long, and it makes the hills around us so lovely. I don't know what it will be like here, however, if the weather predictions come true and these winter storms last for several days.
I have many happy memories of being in the snow. I was born in the Midwest and mostly raised there, mostly in Nebraska and Iowa; snow was just a normal part of my life. When I think back on winters in Iowa, I think of it starting to snow in October or so, and not really quitting till April or May.
Snow is pretty and peaceful in my memories. Everything looks so clean and pristine after a new snowfall; walking in the snow, especially at night, seems especially serene. I loved the crunch of snow under my boots; I loved seeing my breath puff out as I walked. I loved the preternatural silence in a cold and snowy evening.
I even loved taking care of the farm animals in the snow as a teenager. The horses with their winter coats all wooly and fuzzy; the black cows not minding the accumulation of snow on their broad backs. Trudging through the snow everyday to make sure they had enough to eat, and then sitting in the hay barn watching it snow some more. Snow was never a deterrent for daily chores, and I didn't mind.
I used to love making snowmen and women and the occasional snow baby or dog as a kid. I enjoyed making snow forts and the mandatory snowball fights those encouraged. Later, when I lived where it never snowed, I enjoyed the trips to the mountains so I could see some white stuff and touch it and try to bring some home with me in a cooler. I loved making snow ice cream.
Sledding and tobogganing were favorite pastimes of mine as a youngster and as an adult. I tried downhill skiing once – only once – with not-so-great results skill-wise but with great enjoyment and appreciation for the experience. I later tried and became much better at – and really enjoyed – cross-country skiing.
I remember some challenging times in the snow, too, but as a child I didn't take them as seriously as I might now. I've been snowed-in several times; at home as a child, we just played board games and cards and made pop corn and all was well as we were safe and dry, thanks to my parents' good attitudes (they were also born and raised in Iowa). As a family we were stranded on the roads a couple of times that I remember, but those too turned out all right as we were either rescued or found respite at a welcoming stranger's home. Those challenging times have never dimmed my love of snow; rather they increased my respect for what weather can do.
I don't think I would care to live back in the Midwest and face more challenges these days. Tehachapi's Land of Four Seasons is perfect for me now as we get all the seasons but none of them are very severe, nor do they last very long.
Now, with these super storms covering our little mountain town, I'm not sure quite how I feel about the snow. Memories aside, I love looking out my window and seeing the hills covered in white, but I grumble when I have to shovel out a couple of paths for my car to get out of the carport. I hesitate walking or driving where there might be ice.
And mostly I worry about the other people (read "drivers") in town who do not afford the snowfall the respect it deserves. I don't know if it's because we have so many lowlanders living here who are unfamiliar with how to drive in the snow, or too many mountain people who think they are smarter than the snow, but I worry much more now about snowy days and what they mean in terms of safety in our little mountain town than I ever used to worry in the Midwest.
Oh, well. It's still snowing right now, but I'm safe and warm and content in my warm house. I think I'll just make a cup of hot chocolate and remember more of my happy snow times. And I may not venture outside until the storms are over and gone, whenever that may be.
© 2023 Mel Makaw. Mel, local writer/photographer and author of the book "On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns" (available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co.), has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.