Sometimes it can be surreal living in Southern California. You can be wearing a t-shirt outside then hop in the car, drive 35 minutes, and end up in a winter wonderland.
The massive boulder piles east of San Diego are mountains unlike any I experienced growing up. On the East Coast of the United States, mountains are just regular forests with vertigo—there are still trees and streams but you’d have to have one leg shorter than the other to walk straight. Out West in places like Wyoming, mountains are dramatic saw-toothed expressions of mighty elemental energy that require a soundtrack by Wagner. Here in San Diego the mountains are dry rock, tufts of sagebrush, and up near the ridgelines, pine forests that smell heavenly when baking in the summer sun. And in the winter when a cold rainstorm soaks the coast, these mountains can rake snow from the clouds with stubby granitic fingers.
Toddler Harbat and I tried to drive further into the mountains but were stopped by the Highway Patrol who prevented SoCal yahoos from getting stuck in the snow. I wanted to tell them I had all-wheel drive, I knew that snow was slippery, that I’d grown up where snow was a yearly occurrence. But TH and I made do with a snowy slope and short excursions into the brush to feel wintry.
What’s the best part about playing in the snow? Coming back to a warm car, turning on the heater, and sitting in the front seat to eat snacks and look out the window at winter come alive.