December 15, 2008 | My Jottings
We are winding down from a pretty hefty blizzard here in Northern Minnesota. The snow has been pouring out of the sky and the fierce winds have been blowing it sideways. According to the National Weather Service in our area, travel isn’t advised because it’s “hazardous to impossible.” So we stayed home from church yesterday and were thankful for heat and electricity and a fully-stocked pantry. I made fudge and lamely decorated Christmas sugar cookies. I took some extra time to make Lebanese Chicken with Couscous for dinner, which made the house smell wonderful from the sauce mixture of allspice, honey, butter, cinnamon, onion and zested orange peel. While the carols played, I felt a bit nostalgic and thought about the differences between the climate I grew up in and the one I’ve lived in for almost 28 years.
Most of my Christmas memories in Southern California are of mild sunny days with temperatures in the sixties and seventies. I have pictures of me on Christmas day, riding my new, pink Schwinn banana seat bicycle with a plastic flower-covered basket on the handlebars. There isn’t one Christmas photo from my childhood with anyone wearing a coat.
We had a fireplace in our house when I was young, but I used to have to beg my parents for our once-a-year fire on Christmas morning – they usually relented and we burned the wrapping paper for our fifteen minutes of ambience.
But now that I’m getting pretty close to receiving that annoying AARP stuff in my mailbox, a mild climate sounds extremely appealing. We know people who love living in the beauty and relative quiet of Minnesota, but leave for two winter months for warmer climes, to escape the brutal winters here. When I moved here in the early 1980s I never understood the snowbird mentality, but now I get it. Totally. How wonderful it would be to leave right after Christmas for a sunnier place, then return home to Northern Minnesota in March. It’s not unusual to have snow on the ground from early November until April, so a two or three month break in the monotonous white and cold would really help.
On a clear day in my home town, we had gorgeous views of Mount San Antonio (mostly known as Mt. Baldy) in the San Gabriel Mountain Range. In the winter, Baldy was always capped with snow, even if our valley was warm.
Here is the actual view not far from my house, whenever we had a smogless day in Southern California (you can click on the photo to enlarge it):
You can see a bit of snow on Mt. Baldy’s summit. I climbed that mountain with my Earth Science class for an 8th grade field trip. The highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mt. Baldy is 10,064 feet high.
So today as I dress, I will make sure I have two long-sleeved shirts on under my wool coat. I will put on my SmartWool Expedition socks, then pull on my Steger moose hide Mukluks. I will wear a good hat, a long and winding scarf, and mittens. And I will head outside to shovel. Our forecast for tomorrow, now that the snow-dumping cloud layer is gone, is for 23 degrees below zero. That is the kind of dreadful cold that hurts. As I work, I’ll bet some of my old childhood views come to mind. I might even think, “Climbing a mountain was much easier than shoveling one…”