Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Take Me To The Warm Snow"

Living in Los Angeles is sometimes hard for a couple of transplanted New Yorkers. After many many years as Angelinos, Late Blooming Mom and Dad still miss certain things about the east coast, and snow is one of them.

Mind you, we don't miss it enough to relocate. Grandpa, on the phone or on email, keeps reminding us of how he has to ask a neighbor to shovel his front walk since his back is no longer up to the task. Grandma is notorious for planning her winter around slot tournaments in Vegas so she can escape the brutal weather for a little while, at least. Today I spoke with a friend back east who elected to stay home all day yesterday because it had been too damn windy outside, and where she lives -- Vermont -- a windy day can make an otherwise livable temperature sub-zero.

But there's something about bundling up in hats, scarves and gloves, then crunching through powdery snow on the ground, taking a brisk walk through air so chilly you can see your breath, that's positively joy-inducing.
 It's especially so when it's the most true experience of winter you can count on having from December through March, when much of the rest of the world is freezing and you're thinking maybe you might need to put on a light sweater if it gets down to forty-five tonight.

Add to this equation a couple of preschoolers whose sum total snow experience has been visiting a living-room-sized patch of it that'd been brought into the courtyard of a local kids' museum in Pasadena, and you get to what we felt compelled to do yesterday.

We drove 40+ miles out of L.A. and up into the San Gabriel mountains to tramp around in the snow for half an hour.

It sounds like a lot of effort for little reward, but it was oh so worth it to watch our kids experience snow first hand. The drive up to a few miles shy of the summit of Mount Wilson was exciting in itself: there are pine trees, big rocks, sprawling vistas below -- mountains as far as the eye can see in one direction, and the gleaming, Emerald City-like spires of downtown Los Angeles in the other. Thing 2 kept asking how we were going to get to snow: would we climb to it? No, we explained, we would drive to it. We passed car after car coming down the mountain with snow piled onto roofs and hoods by the cars' occupants, Angelinos eager to show off that they, too, had make the pilgrimage to real snow. Then, when we pulled into what's normally a "picnic area," and procured the very last spot -- obviously driving up to the snow is a popular activity on a sunny winter weekend day in L.A. -- we dressed the kids in a combination of hand-me-down and cheap, Target-procured snow gear, and set off.

Thing 1 wanted to know why the snow wasn't falling down from the sky like it does in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Like those kids in "Charlie Brown," he wanted to stick his tongue out and taste snow. So I explained this snow had already fallen down, probably the day he was stuck inside his preschool the whole day because of rain. I then encouraged him to grab a handful of snow in his Batman gloves and give it a taste. Not surprisingly, he declared "It tastes like ice," and was soon on to other snowy pursuits, like throwing a mom-made snow ball at no one in particular, and clearing it off rocks on a man-made rock fence near the parking lot.

Thing 2 wanted to make a snow man, but the snow wasn't wet enough to pack down, so she settled for tossing small snow balls onto the ground to watch them break, and then discovered a more exciting activity: making snow angels. This occupied her for several successful attempts, so naturally, Thing 1 wanted to give it a try. However, while Thing 2 remained mostly untouched by the cold snow, thanks to overlapping layers of waterproof attire, Thing 1 somehow managed to expose his back and then belly to cold snow, and that was it: he quickly became too cold to enjoy himself.

It was right around then that he declared, "Take me to the warm snow."

After we finally stopped laughing, we attempted to explain to Thing 1 that there is no warm snow: that's called rain. But explanations were not what he was interested in. He wanted back into the warm car, and out of the wet clothes, and he wanted it now.

Thing 2, on the other hand, was far from done, so while Dad and son returned to the car and began to de-layer, Thing 2 and Late Blooming Mom moseyed along a bit more, Thing 2 determined to walk up little snow hills, and to gather armfuls of snow to put atop our car because all the other cars had snow on them too. There was another snow angel to be made, and then mystification expresed at the droplets of water falling on us from melting snow in the tree branches above us. Enchanted by all she saw and felt, my little snow bunny likely would've stayed out much longer than that half hour or so, but because the other half of our party was finished with snow exploration and already digging into snacks, I had to convince her it was time to get into the car and bid the snow goodbye for the day.

As we drove down from the mountains and back to our temperate sea level winter climate, Thing 2 nodded off, content that she'd finally had a long-promised "snow day," while Thing 1 had already moved onto other things -- contemplating the still-sealed-in-the-box Lego race car toy we'd procured for him earlier in the day. When asked if he liked going to the snow, he said "Yes," but then added, "It's too cold. I don't like snow." But Thing 2, when she awoke, had only one request: "Can we skate on it next time?"


Anonymous said...

Very sweet! I don't think I ever thought about snow from the perspective of a 4-year-old Los Angeles child. I predict in a few more years you'll be hiking all over the Sierras with them! And that's the most fun...showing kids the glorious things in the world for the first time.

Darcine said...

What a terrific experience! Having grown up in Chicago, snow must have held a tremendous fascination for me at some point -- but it's lost in the mists of time. You've inspired me to find out about my early snow days...

Anonymous said...

Love this!

William V. Madison said...