Tahoe Pine Nuts: The gift of snow at Christmas
December 24, 2015
There's nothing like it in the world for freshness, whiteness and wonder. Waking up to a white Christmas is one of life's great gifts.
After we have stepped outdoors and taken it all in, we can then embrace that feeling of renewal and oneness, and dive headlong under the tree with the kids, kiss the wife, have an eggnog and some pumpkin pie.
So who do you suppose has bragging rights to the very finest, purist, fluffiest snow? I would put in for Diamond Peak here in the Village of Incline, but that might be a conflict of interest, as in full disclosure I have enjoyed skiing there 32 years in a row and have loved every year of it. (I highly recommend the chili at the Snowflake Lodge.)
But the experts point to higher climes…Utah. It is said that skiing in Utah is like skiing on "white smoke" in comparison to our "Sierra Cement." I find that hard to believe, but then I have never skied in Utah.
They claim that when snow falls in Utah, the conditions are perfect to create snowflakes resembling chicken feathers that bond on the ground like goose down, creating a powder that provides the sensation of skiing on a cumulus cloud.
I skied Mt. Fuji once during the monsoon season, and that snow was delicious. I say "delicious" because I had occasion to eat a mouthful of it. For my money, Japan has the best tasting snow, it has a sea-salt flavor to it.
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I guess moisture has a lot to do with the fineness of snow. We get the lion's share of moisture as El Nino climbs out of the Pacific and up the Sierra to deliver about 10 percent in moisture density.
As El Nino moves east it loses moisture while crossing the Great Basin until it contains about 8 percent in Utah, by Colorado it's down to 6 percent, and when it drops down onto New Mexico, well their snow is so bereft of moisture they gather it up and use it as packing peanuts at Christmas.
They say no two snowflakes are alike. Wilson Bentley photographed 5,000 snow crystals (don't ask me how) and not any two of them were alike. Personally, I am not going to lose any sleep wondering if any of the trillion on my deck are twins.
In closing, and heading for the eggnog bowl, I have to believe that Mark Twain discovered the finest snow of all, and described it in a note to his wife, Olivia, a note he left for her to find on Christmas morning…
"Good morning, dear heart, it was for you that I was awake 'til after midnight arranging for this snow-storm and trying to get it at fair and honest rates -which I couldn't, but if you will take a handful of snow and examine it you will realize that you have never seen any that could approach this for fineness of quality and peculiar delicacy of make and finish and unqualified whiteness, except in the Emperor's back yard in Vienna. I love you most dearly and continuously and constantly, Livy dearest."
If you can find finer snow than that on Christmas morning, please let me know, and have a merry white Christmas.
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.
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