Childhood views

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…”


  1. Dorothy Sooter says:

    Julie, I loved being raised in Illinois and we always wished for snow at Christmas and for our creek (the Little Vermillion) that wound through our 3 acres to freeze. Ice skates were our big present when we got old enough that our feet stopped growing. With eight children and most of us born during the depression, presents were not that plentiful.
    It was okay though, cause mom always made wonderful home made candy and cakes and we truly did not know how poor we were. The three older members, my two sisters and one brother had already left home when the four of us girls entered our teens.
    One year, I remember vividly, we each were given one dollar and we were able to buy presents for each other and mom and dad. Amazing. I started working at age 15 but my boss made me quit until I turned 16. My senior year in high school I worked in a truck stop for 50 cents an hour. They did not know about tipping and one time one of my co-workers and I found 5 dollars on the floor. We really thought we were rich.
    I worked a 40 hour week in high school for 20 dollars. I left
    Illinois to join my two married sisters and Mary Jane when I was 17 and became a true Californian. I went back to Illinois when I became engaged to my high school sweetheart when I was 20 and stayed for a year. We broke up and I returned to California. I have been on the Central Coast for 40 years and truly love it knowing that we could all be wiped out by an earthquake. I disliked the tornadoes in the midwest and still do. Your dad and my many trips back to my home town and Minnesota, Tennesee and Missouri are some of my fondest memories. We have just experienced a wonderful much needed rain storm and cooler weather is nice at Christmas time. Last night we were visited with the flu bug, Kacie’s 14 year old son threw up at least 16 times and now Kacie, Jessica and I are going to be in the same boat soon. I am doing laundry and praying that the three of us will do a better job of getting to the bathroom on time. Kacie’s home is
    on the market so they will stay with me until we get through
    these next few days and her home can stay bright and shiny.
    Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Love, Dorothy

  2. Tauni says:

    Mt. Baldy looks a lot different today after getting about 2 – 3 feet of snow! Been an intense few days, snow has landed where it has not landed before!! I, for one, am glad I do not have to shovel driveways anymore! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

    Blessings to you and yours,

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