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Year in Yosemite: Let it Snow - Explore

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Year in Yosemite: Let it Snow


When I woke this past Sunday morning I discovered snow covering the trees, the road, and the ground, so I did what I always do when faced with a snowstorm. I jumped up from bed, ran downstairs to turn up the heat, made a beeline for the coffee maker and prepared breakfast, even though no one else was up. Because snow in Yosemite National Park means many things — a winter wonderland for visitors, a deeper snowpack in the high country, better skiing at Badger Pass and more accidents on the road. But at our house it means only one thing — if the electricity isn't out already, it will be soon.

After a year of living in Yosemite, I have an almost reflexive reaction to the white stuff. I do what's important and I do it fast because it's only a matter of time until it's cold and dark.

On Sunday I managed to get the coffee brewed before the electricity went down and, caffeine addict that I am, considered myself lucky. Last year we had propane heat and a propane stove that worked even when nothing else did. This year, the house we're in has an electric stove and an electric start to the propane furnace. Sunday I discovered that the house loses four degrees of heat an hour when off, yet gains only one degree an hour when the heat's back on — a design surely masterminded by a propane company.

Photos by Jon Jay.

I also discovered that when you bundle up your child and send her over to the neighbor's with a note asking if they can boil some water, the same child will come back to get your teapot with three boys, a dog and their dad in tow. Then, as dad supervises, said children will spend the next two hours running, sliding, sledding and slipping in the snow, all while being chased by the dog.

When they are done, they will come to the door to beg for hot chocolate. They do not care that you have just spent the last hour madly looking for flashlights and lanterns, which have been buried at the back of the closet when you were lulled into complacency during a whole month of unseasonably high temperatures.

They do not care that they are standing in your front hallway dripping mud and ice onto your newly washed floor. They are oblivious to the fact that the dog is barreling through the house and the only thing you can do is pray that it doesn't decide to visit the living room where the carpet was cleaned just the day before.

There isn't a cell in their bodies telling them that snow is wet and messy and cold and dirty and really something to be kept outside. No, they are thinking that snow is wondrous and icicles are beautiful and dogs are for playing with and hot chocolate is at its most delicious when savored on a front porch swing. And though my brain is registering nothing but the mess I'll have to clean up, my heart knows that they have it exactly right. And if, adult that I am, I no longer see how newly fallen snow trumps a clean house, I experience my own kind of joy that morning. It happens when the electricity returns — hours before expected.

-- Jamie Simons

In May 2009, while hiking in Yosemite National Park, long-time Los Angeles resident Jamie Simons turned to her husband and said, "I want to live here." Today she and her family have made the move to live for one year in Wawona, where her daughter attends the one-room schoolhouse, Jamie writes, and her husband longs for noise, fast food, people, and the city.(Though he's learning to appreciate mountain life.)

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