Friday, March 28, 2008

Change of Seasons

MT. BALDY 10,000'

I grew up in Southern California, the San Fernando Valley to be exact. We never really talked about the weather other than to comment on the heat in the summer. Sunshine reigned supreme most of the year and a rainy day was a day to be treasured; a thing of beauty. I loved rainy days. I waited for them and enjoyed them immensely. A cloudy day was rare; a rainy day unsurpassed. I remember it snowed once. I was in the First Grade. We stayed home and built a tiny snowman on our redwood picnic table. My father was ecstatic and so were we. It was unprecedented in my short life and, I don't recall it happening again while I lived at home. Because the seasons were indistinguishable from one another, my father would drive us into the mountains above the LA Basin to go to the nearest place for snow: Frazier Park. it was not exactly the mountains most of us imagine. It was off the Grapevine leading out of LA in the first set of mountains that had any elevation whatsoever and it caught the rain that turned to snow. Dad would load us into the station wagon, always a FORD Country Squire, and pack the toboggan and a couple of radial
flyer sleds, all made of wood or bent wood, and off we'd go with the dog and my mother and him at the wheel. We'd go for the day, toboggan as a threesome, sled by ourselves, dog on the run. My mother would watch. She had no interest whatsoever in snow. She'd left Indiana for the warm climate of Los Angeles while still a teenager and had no desire for anything else the rest of her life.

When I was seventeen, all my friends were skiing so, of course, I had to learn. My first time skiing was down a snow covered road in the San Gabriel Mtns. We had driven to Mt. Baldy for the day with rented skis in my girlfriend's VW bug. There were three of us. We did not make it to the ski area because, I think, we did not have chains and in California, if it's snowy or inclement weather, the law says you have to put chains on the car. Either that or it was a snowstorm and the weather halted progress. So we strapped on our rented skis and tried snowplowing down the road; screaming with laughter, falling into each other. In those days, late 60's, we wore stretch pants and parkas and mid-calf boots, all black. Afteerwards, when we walked into a diner down in Victorville, I remember some old lady exclaiming

"Motorcycles riders! All of them! Motorcycle riders."

We thought that was hilarious and we repeated it for years afterwards.

We did learn to ski, eventually, and we did learn to love the change of seasons. I think back now on all the years I lived in a warm climate when I could have handled the cold; when I was in good shape: physically fit, athletic, no arthritis. All that's changed and I sure do miss the warm climate...especially THIS winter.

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