Powder to the People

Snowflake after snowflake is tumbling down on my shoulders, my gloves, my helmet, down my neck where it slowly melts and stains my skin pink. The air in my lungs is so much warmer than the air around me, but I can’t see my breath within all the white and grey falling through the space here.

Photo Credit: Mason Mashon Photo

I can’t see my skis, the snow is now all the way up to my knees. I try and dig a hole down my legs to tighten my boots one more time. I look around, look up to my siblings that are beside me, the only spots of color within my vision. One more time, my brother throws a snowball at me. I laugh and get a little mad internally, but now is not the time. Now is the time to be happy.

We all get out the handles for our ABS avalanche backpacks and connect them to the left shoulder strap. Our guide looks at us, and says “Geht schon!”, meaning “Okay, let’s go!”. We all push our poles into the snow in front of us and hop out of the deep powder as if it was nothing.

Here it goes.

The first second is nothing but exhilarating. I feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins as I float down the mountain, constantly fighting the curves and dips in the snow in order to not face plant. Stay away from the trees, stay away from the edge, don’t cross here, you might set off an avalanche. Just go, you love this.

The powder is fresh; we are the only ones here. This was definitely worth the long hike.

I am cold, but I can feel myself starting to sweat. My boots are too loose, don’t lose focus or you’ll twist your ankle. The snow is melting on my mask; the cold air is freezing it into solid ice. My braid is now white and covered in snow crystals. My breath is now in sync with my dashes, it’s cold and hard through my mouth and it hurts to breathe in; my nose is nearly closed up with ice. Just keep going. You don’t get to do this every day.

There is a steep part ahead. Look at your guide, your siblings, follow their lead. They’re better than you. It’s okay, you’re still doing it. The path is narrow, don’t hit the trees, watch out for the branches, the snow on top of them. Focus, use your legs, stay strong. We haven’t stopped this entire time and my feet and thighs are hurting. It’s good. Look ahead, there’s a lip. Jump, try not to fall, think of how hard it would be to get back up. You don’t want to make everyone else stop for you.

There it is, the bottom of the hill. From now on, it’s flat. There are some bumps, we try and jump and push each other over, race each other, spin around and go backwards. We did it.

We have to cross a stream; there’s a fallen tree trunk to walk on. The stomped-down snow on it makes it slippery and, with tired knees, we all make our way across. Now, all that’s left is a long way back to the town, an hour of walking and pushing through the trees in the valley. I’m really getting hot now; I have to open my jacket, unzip the sides of my pants, but it’s good. I feel good.

We get back to the ski lift and catch one of the last rides. Looking out through the slowly darkening alps around me, I see the mountain we had hiked up this morning in the distance. I feel tired, I feel hungry and sore, but the feeling of victory and accomplishment you get when you finally get to take off your heavy  boots and cold, wet gloves makes up for everything that has been aching for the past few hours.

I feel done; I feel tired; I feel good.

Winter sunsets

Winter sunsets are always the brightest.
The days are shorter, the nights are darker.

It’s November,
and even though it’s cold enough to see your breath in the air
we still eat dinner in the backyard.

Photo Credit: Reddit.com User: finnishlad

It’s cold, but who needs a fire in the living room
when there’s already one in the sky?

The sky is burning,
plumes of smoke in pink, purple, orange.
Colors brighter than you knew existed.

They fade into view, like spilled ink slowly spreading across a page.
They stay to entertain the mountains, dancing among the clouds.
They decide it’s time to leave, sinking below the horizon.

Once spectacular, then gone.
But don’t worry; an encore tomorrow.

We watch the clouds burn for as long as they will.

Dad thanks Mother Nature.
Mom says it’s the moments like these when she knows God is real.
I think it’s the moments like these, the simple things,
that make it all okay for a while.

Warmth of the Cold

I love fall. The sheer aesthetic of sitting by a window with warm glowing string lights, drinking some sort of hot tea, surrounded with the smell of books. The fact that it is finally cold enough to be wearing wool socks and sweatshirts. The feeling of cold air filling your chest from the inside, making your home feel so much warmer.

I have to admit, I miss the cold winters back home in Germany. Right now, it is almost freezing there, the leaves that are turning red-orange, some almost pink-purple, are covering the roads like a warm-colored blanket. The lakes are topped with a paper thin layer of ice in the morning, and windows and cars are frosted the way they would be in movies. Horses’ coats are becoming thick and soft, and cows are being brought from their pastures back into their winter barns.

Credit: view.stern.de

I remember how much I hated the feeling of biking up the hill to my house after school, watching the clouds turn to a darker grey as the sun set behind them, and feeling the warm air in my lungs being replaced by the cold, making my throat hurt by the time I got back home. But I always loved the moment I walked through the door, embraced by my jumping dog and the heated floor, maybe even a fire in the chimney. The best days were the rainy ones. Your house just feels so much cozier when you don’t want to go outside.

 

Credit: moondog.de

I miss that weather. I miss the grey skies and the rain-soaked lawns. I miss the muddy roads and paths going through the forest by my house. I miss collecting chestnuts with my friends and cooking them with their whole family. I miss being freezing cold with numb fingers and an icy nose. I miss how later in the winter the trees would look like they had been covered in powdered sugar, reflecting the grey-purple of the afternoon sky.

I miss my home.

And no matter where I’ll live throughout my life, no matter how many times I’ll move and find new homes, that will always be my first home. My family’s home. My real home.

Christmas Time is Here

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Christmas is here! (kind of)

Once Thanksgiving ended, a Christmas frenzy descended upon us, showering everyone in festive store windows, holiday sales, and, most importantly, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album (although Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is also very important).

The Grove’s Christmas tree has gone up, holiday candy has dominated stores, people are driving through town with green fir trees strapped on the top of their cars, and Disneyland’s Christmas celebration has been in full swing since November 8.

Kids are about to go on break, adults are taking time off work, and family members are hopping on planes, getting in their cars, or hopping in taxis to see their loved ones for the holidays.

After our cruel finals week, holiday break begins, and with that comes holiday movies, candy, parties, and relaxation (hopefully). But, it also gives everyone a chance to recharge, and spend more time with family and friends.

Warm Winters

From my experience, California winters are nothing like actual winters.  With highs of 100 degrees and lows of 70 degrees, this weather resembles summer more than anything other season.

I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and it’s pretty chilly. Around this time of the year I’m usually prepared for cold weather, and lots and lots of rain.

Here, despite the fact that Halloween is right around the corner, I can wear tank tops to school every day. Instead of suiting up in my rain jacket and closed-toed shoes, I find myself wearing shorts and sandals. 

I don’t dislike the weather – it’s really pretty, and let’s be real. I can go to the beach in October! But as far as winter goes, it just doesn’t feel like one.

Photo Credit: http://www.californiatravel.eu

To me, winter means cozying up in sweaters and blankets, and being able to lay inside and listen to the rain. Winter is the cold wind on your face when you step outside, both chilling and refreshing at the same time.

Photo Credit: fcdn.mtbr.com

And while I love the sun and warm weather, I’d like to save it for the summer. It’s just where it fits in! I look forward to cold weather, and the feeling of winter – and that just doesn’t happen in California!

No Chill

Although I knew California was hot, by choosing to go to school here I didn’t think I signed up for a 75 degree November.

Already insanely hot during the summer months, I was looking forward to it cooling down leading up to the holidays. Oh, how wrong I was.

As of right now, the high for this week is 77 degrees. In November! I don’t mind this weather, it’s actually very nice. But, it’s comforting in a spring sense. Not for leading into Thanksgiving!

At home, the high for this week is a warm 50 degrees and raining. Although I’m sure it’s miserable to live in 24/7, it sounds wonderful to spend at least a day in!

Photo Credit: wyckoffcomfort.com

I love shorts as much as the next person, but coming from the cold weather, I look forward to the temperature where it’s appropriate to wear sweaters.

When it’s cold out, mother nature creates a true wintery feeling, which is amazing to spend time in.

For Sake of the Snake (part 1)

It was 9:30 at night, maybe 10:00. I was reading intensely, as I usually do, but was quickly brought out of my concentration by the muffled noises coming from our first floor. I quietly snuck out of my room and sat on the top of the staircase, peering between the hollow metal bars of the railing and wondering why my mom and nanny were fretting in front of our window.

I continued to sneak down, careful to avoid creaky steps, and crawled atop the dog-haired couch to see what was behind the window. The window was the size of the wall, allowing us to see much of what goes on outside, but for the moment, all our interest was focused on a shadowy figure at the rightmost corner of the window.

It was around wintertime, sometime between November and February (wide range, I know), so the heaters of our house were on and the windows were like sheets of ice. There, huddled sadly in the corner, was a large, black snake.

I think that was the first real snake I ever saw in my life.

In my hours within Animal Planet I had watched many shows on snakes, as well as picture books and book mentions. I had always been fascinated by them, so that night, my 10-year-old self was in a shock from seeing that creature.

My nanny grew up on a farm, where snakes are her bane. My mom didn’t like that snake sitting there and “endangering” our family and dogs, so they were wondering the best way to shoo it away. My nanny took a boot and whacked the window with it, which caused the snake to hiss and strike on the window.

I woke up the next morning wondering if it was a dream. To this day I’m still wondering, but either way it doesn’t matter. And now, with my incredible knowledge of snakes, I conclude that the window snake was a black rat snake.