It’s cold in California this morning. And while it’s still not East Coast or Mid-west cold, it is cold enough for snow. I think this has happened maybe 2 other times since I lived here. I actually don’t even remember the last time I, personally, was around snow. Had to have been… maybe Japan? Wasn’t much there either, but I think that’s when I last stood in falling snow.
Last night I was beat after a stress-filled week at work. I think I passed out on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, full on pizza and beer, the asthmatic hiss of the gas heat breathing in the walls of my apartment. I barely remember getting into bed. But because I fell asleep so early, I woke up a bit before six.
I felt this was the time to listen to the new Radiohead album, The King of Limbs. I grabbed the big bowls of my headphones, and sunk deep into my bed, the comforter wrapping around me like quicksand as the first tinkling piano loop, tip-toed into my head through the holes of my ears. Perfect setting for the first listen of the album.
After the the last lyrics of “Separator” faded (“wake me up, wake me up”) and the drums abruptly ended, I climbed out of the place in my mattress that I had sunk down into. Standing in my boxers is when I realized how cold it was. They were talking snow on the news yesterday so I decided to go see if it had happened. I bundled in cold layers of clothes that had been sleep-strewn across my floor last night. Having a breezy carport beneath my bedroom, made the clothes extra icy sliding over my goose bumpy skin. Shirt, jeans, sweatshirt, smurfy hat, wintery jacket, etc. I grabbed my camera and headed for Skyline Boulevard.
On the way, second listen to The King of Limbs… When I got to the top of 92 I started looking up toward Skyline to see if it was snow-topped. It still looked pretty green up there with the cottony wisps of fog rising from the redwoods like the smoke rising from a scattering of small camp-fires. The sun was blasting through cracks in the cloud-cover all over the place and lit up the reservoir with its god-rays.
As I got closer to 280 I started to see small, white breaks through the trees. Had to be snow, right? It was pretty neat when I pulled onto Skyline, leaned through that first set of twists, used to flipping back and forth through there on the moto. In the middle of one of those twists I was suddenly face to face with an amazing rainbow. I slid into the muddy turn-out and started taking some photos, Radiohead urging “don’t worry, don’t hurt me…” A flock of white birds flipped through the sky like scraps of paper, so high and luminescent in the sun and against the dark clouds.
I jumped back in my truck. Then a long, climbing straight section. Down in the shoulder-less sides of the road I started to see the first bits of snow. And as I climbed higher and higher, there was actual accumulation. I stopped a few places to take photos, make a snowball (more slush-ball). One of the last snowy spots I stopped a man and woman had brought their little girls to play in the snow. They were wrapped up in winter clothes and throwing snowballs at each other, wet splashes on impact. They had even built a tiny snowman who was listing horribly to one side.
I finally headed home and right about when I got below the snow-line, I came around a turn that pointed me directly at the Pacific. Either the earlier rainbow had moved and grown or this was a brand new one. I found another muddy turn out and made some more photos.
What an amazing morning. Now it’s just steadily raining, solid grey sky, the thundery roll of jets landing at SFO. Time for another listen to The King of Limbs. Here are some photos:
Here’s some video of the wet snow falling: