It’s a funny thing how inspiration sometimes comes in sidewise like a particularly blustery winter storm.
I had grand plans to write about writing but then the Universe sent me inspiration in the form of a woefully inaccurate weather app predication that not only made me laugh but scratch my head wondering if I’d fallen down a rabbit hole and tea with the mad hatter was on the schedule.
Weather forecast: snow flurries.
Since we’re practically at sea level here in Oakdale, the idea of snow falling is almost ludicrous. Now, before some old-timers come at me with the reminder that, “It snowed here in 1972!” let’s just meet in the middle and agree that snowfall in Oakdale is an exceedingly rare event.
According to BestPlaces.net, Oakdale is ranked as one of the least snowy places in California so suffice to say, no one’s creating snow angels in their yard around here.
I chuckled, screenshot the weather page and sent it to my editor with laughs, she responded with the same reaction as mine because we both hail from places where it actually does snow.
Like, a lot.
She’s from upstate New York, and I’m from the Sierra Nevada mountains.
In my experience, every winter we would lose power at some point, get snowed in, enjoy snow days from school, and listen for the snow plow making its way down the road so we could actually emerge from our homes like woodland creatures popping from their burrows in search of food.
I traded the mountains for ag land and I’ll admit, there are a few things I miss about winter in a forested place. Here are a few:
I miss the sound of snow. You might say, “Kim, snow is silent,” but it’s not actually. It’s hard to explain but the sound of snow falling is the most relaxing sound I know (rivaling the beautiful sound of rain dancing on the rooftop) and I always knew before peering out the window if it’d snowed the night before. There’s a peaceful density to the atmosphere when snow blankets the ground and I miss that sense of stillness.
The crisp smell of fresh snow. There’s something about fresh snowfall that clears the mind and awakens the senses.
The stunning beauty of a snowy landscape makes everything pretty. Even a junkyard in snow has its moment to shine.
Snuggling into a thick quilt while the fire warms the house is the best time for losing yourself in a book. If you’re lucky enough to have a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream beside you, you’re winning at life.
Making snow ice cream. Some of my best memories include scooping up fresh powder (after the second or third snowfall) to make ice cream with my kids.
On the flip side, here’s what I don’t miss about winter in the mountains:
Being without power for more than a day. There’s nothing romantic about being unable to flush the toilet without manually pouring water into the bowl.
Trying to find the food you buried on the front porch to keep it from spoiling while the power is out.
Having to park at the bottom of the driveway because there’s no way the car can make it up the steep, snowy drive and trying to carry kids and groceries to the house.
School lasting longer in the summer to make up for the days lost to snow.
Stressing about wood season (making sure you have enough for the winter, chopping and stacking, keeping it dry, etc.)
Black ice. If you know, you know.
So, as much as I love the memories of growing up in snow country, I’m happy to remain in the “low-land” where the threat of snow is a distant, almost impossible, probability. Besides, the best part about living in California? Visiting the snow is only a short drive away.
And that’s just how I like it.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.