The first snowfall of the season hit us by surprise early Monday morning. I’d been staying down at Mum’s the night before so we could get the Cap to his early train and it was something of a shock to drive back up the mountain and see the signs that said “chains required.” I wasn’t expecting snow. The weather widget on my iPhone clearly said “rain” and not “freezing white stuff that will screw up your entire morning and ruin your reputation in town as a level headed individual who copes well with adversity.”
My thought process kind of went like this:
“Really? Snow? No way. What do they mean the pass is closed? No no, I’m sure they are joking. There’s no snow. I don’t need chains! Surely you jest…”
This, friends, is the “denial” stage.
“There is no snow. Obviously the weather guy is a moron. [ed note: this was at about 2500 feet] I see no snow. They lie. It’s a joke. It’s October. It was sunny yesterday. Everything will be fine. Please just let me get home and I’ll never be unprepared again. I promise.”
Some of those playing along with the home game might recognize “bargaining” when they see it.
“SHUT UP, BIG LIT UP SIGN I JUST PASSED THAT SAYS CHAINS ARE REQUIRED. SHUT UP AM TRAFFIC RADIO THAT SAYS THERE IS SNOW. GO HOME. YOU ARE DRUNK. THERE IS NO SNOW. THE SNOW IS A LIE. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. IT IS FINE. LA LA LA.”
Back to denial.
So at about 4000 feet, a car drove past me and it had snow all over it. Then there was another car with snow on it, and then another. All the cars. With snow on their hoods and on the roof, like it belongs there. Like it is no big deal. OH LA, MY CAR IS COVERED IN SNOW. It’s like that website, Stuff On My Cat, except, Snow On Cars. This is about when I began leaving irate messages on the Captain’s phone. Not that he could help or negotiate with the Powers That Be about snow, being on a train somewhere around Bakersfield and not in control of the local weather, but I’ve always felt that sharing is important in a relationship.
I began to have visions of the cats, freezing to death in the cabin, or worse, starving without their breakfasts. Would I come home to find them making like a tiny feline Donner Party? What if they were cold? What if their fur coats were insufficient? No one was home to light the stove for them! What were they thinking about all of this nonsense, being fat LA housecats with no previous experience of winter? Everyone was going to need extra Stress Stopper for sure.
With all of this going through my mind, I descended on the local ACE hardware and proceeded to get mildly dramatic (I know, it’s a shock). They sent me to the coffee shop while they dug the chains out of the back, and told me to come back in an hour. Probably because they didn’t want to hear any more dire theories about the fate of my cats. Thankfully, the coffee shop lady was super reassuring, made me a soy latte and gave me her cell phone number when I left for home so that if I got stuck and needed help, I could call. The lovely coffee shop lady and her charmingly quirky fella are two of my favorite people in this town, let me tell you. They don’t know me and she promised to come get me if I needed a rescue. Seriously, people up here are kind of amazing. You forget that we’re all in it together, living in a place like LA. I’ve never experienced anything like the folks up here on the mountain in terms of helping out neighbors and the like.
Speaking of having no experience… did y’all know that tire chains come in sizes? Which makes sense, given that tires come in sizes, but I definitely had a “Who knew?” moment about that one.
Tire chains are also really expensive.
Oh and to make it all extra fun, I don’t actually know how to put chains ON the car yet. The Captain was going to show me later since it’s not supposed to snow till December and we thought had plenty of time for learning snow skills. So in the end, I couldn’t actually get the damn things on the car. Fortunately, the highway had been cleared at this point and it was only the snow covered road to the cabin that I needed to navigate. Our long, winding, hilly road. In my unweighted, rear wheel drive, little red Honda. Being a brave sort, I opted to wing it, because HOW BAD CAN IT BE? Right? Well now I know how bad it can be. Now I know why they say “If the car starts sliding, just stop messing with the wheel and DON’T HIT THE BRAKES.” There is nothing like hands on experience, nothing quite like sliding sideways off the road, to teach you why DON’T HIT THE BRAKES is important. There were later Adventures In Getting The Car Unstuck. Those adventures included swearing, but they came out ok. The car was fine. It wasn’t actually very stuck, once the snow melted a bit.
The cats were completely baffled by the change in their exterior environment, however, they rallied quickly and found a way to handle it.
Because this week was all about Xtreme Snow Adventures, I tried shoveling snow, next. The novelty and adventure lasted about as long as it took to clear off my front walk, before an overwhelming wave of “Fuck This, I Am Over It. I Am Going To Go Inside And Bake Brownies Instead.” kicked in. “It’ll melt eventually.” I thought. And so it has. Why have all the sturdy, rosy-cheeked teenagers grown up and moved out, now that I need them for strategic snow shoveling purposes? Alas, emergent adulthood means no more free labor and getting a snow blower is now placed very high on my list.
The part of me that’s been living in Los Angeles for 18 years keeps saying, “No, no really. This FREAK WEATHER will go away and it will be sunny and warm again! This white stuff falling from the sky is an aberration! This can’t be normal!” even though the logical part of me knows it is perfectly normal and we will get snow a lot this winter and that’s why I bought boots and a purple jacket. I will say that the snow is really nice when you are snug inside, soup is cooking, the car is safely out of the snowbank, parked in its spot, and the cats are snoring cosily by the wood stove. It’s nice to watch snow falling while you are eating warm brownies and shipping chai tea next to a cosy wood fire. Now that the snow is melted, I am kind of missing it and wishing it would come back. Maybe after I get the wood stacked. Because did I mention, we have All The Wood?
For the record, a pile consisting of two cords of premium split, seasoned oak is taller and wider than my car, and I am stacking it all myself because the Cap is in LA this week and it needs done. And because as I mentioned before, there is nary a teenager in sight.
Oh Oak, I love your long burning, buttery and delicious heat. Sure, Pine and Cedar have been good to me, but you, you’re my favorite. Even if you’re heavy.
Next week, a treatise on Pine Needles and Why Do They Keep Falling Into The Yard I Just Raked? Also: Spiders Hibernate In Firewood And Other Reasons Why We Need A Sheltered OUTDOOR Woodbox.