I arrived in Bay Area, California as a student from India some years ago and as long as I’ve stayed here, I have never traveled to any other region of the country in winter. During this season, while most other places shiver as temperatures dip, Bay Area continues to frolic under the sun (previous post: Sunshine). Consequently I had never known what it felt like to experience snowfall or never had a chance to play with all that white goodness. Even in India, I had never been to the Himalayan regions during winter. My husband and I had gone skiing before (previous post about our first trip: It was s(n)o(w) very good). However, it was at the tail end of a mild winter and the slopes had begun to turn slushy under the rising heat later on. By this year, I had developed a nagging craving to witness snowfall. Fortunately, if you live in the Bay Area, all you have to do to reach the nearest snowy place is just hop into a car and a four hour drive later, there you are in the whitewashed mountains around Lake Tahoe. California had seen a severe drought this season with very little rainfall or snowfall. When the weather finally took a turn for the better, hubby dearest immediately planned an overnight trip there so that those wishful thoughts that shrieked ‘snow! snow! snow!’ in my head could be laid to rest.
Our car climbed upward into the mountains around the lake and soon enough milky peaks began to rise over the tops of coniferous trees lining the road. I started to give excited squeaks as gorgeous mountains covered entirely in snow burst into view. The narrow road wound up higher and higher until the pines bordering it began to show up decked in white as well. The noises coming from me grew into chuckles, shrieks and whoops. It was when snow flurries came whirling toward the windshield that I finally lost my mind. I was finally seeing snow fall! We stopped at a vista point with a heavenly view of the lake in the distance so that I could get out of the car to jump and dance by the side of the road.
The light shower stopped soon after as we descended into the town. We had lunch and checked in to our hotel. Snowfall was predicted again towards evening and we decided to head up to higher elevations at that time. We parked at a popular vista point that overlooks Emerald Bay and turned around to notice a clearing amidst some pine trees on the mountainside where people had stopped to play in the snow. Kids slid down small slopes in their sleds and played to their hearts content. Snowmen made by tiny hands stood around smiling their friendly smiles. It began to snow as I ran toward the play area with an excitement to match the kids’. I was late to this party by so many years! Powdery, pristine snow lay undisturbed, untrodden, waiting for me as I leaped onto a giant white bed. My husband and I had our first intense fight – a fun, snowball one – as we gathered, packed and hurled balls of snow at each other.
It snowed more after that and I stood gazing up in wonder, at times with my tongue sticking out to catch those icy cold flakes. How delicate they looked as they landed softly on my arm! How silently they fell from the sky! How prettily they decorated the earth! They were even better than I had imagined them to be in childhood when sprinkling flour or icing sugar in the kitchen.
While returning home we stopped by a golf course that stretched white in all directions and began to stroll alongside it. Ah, the satisfaction you get when walking on snow as it crunches deliciously under your feet! A therapeutic feeling similar to crushing dead leaves underneath or popping bubble wrap with fingers! An hour later we visited a park consisting of a heavily wooded snow-covered forest. There was not enough time to explore it further but I stood for some time among the pine trees with what looked like huge dollops of plain yoghurt at our feet and the sunlight falling in patches from time to time. The crisp air and the silence of that winter wonderland filled me up completely. It was pleasantly broken by the snow that had accumulated on the branches falling off them like fairy dust and making sounds like that of some animal scrambling away. I closed my eyes for a moment and let the entire experience sink in before it dissolved into a memory, like a tiny snow flake that had landed on my palm before it turned to water and dripped off my fingers.
* Title of this post taken from the old song ‘Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!’ that would play on repeat in stores while shopping during the holiday season.