LIFE IN OUR MOUNTAIN TOWN: Signs of spring, Truckee style
Whenever my family and I go away in the middle of winter, our spirits are quickly lifted during those moments when we first arrive in a warmer climate.
When we went to Carmel a few years ago, people walking along the sidewalk of the main thoroughfare turned to look at us as the studded snow tires on our vehicle made a loud grating noise as we drove over the dry road. Every window was rolled down to allow our arms to hang out, reaching out to feel the warm spring-like air.
I remember another winter vacation that my family and I spent at Disneyland, when we all sunk our bare feet into grass somewhere on the grounds of the Disneyland hotel. I wasn’t aware of anyone watching us do this, but if anyone was watching us, they might have noticed that we were almost giddy at the sight of seeing and touching green grass with our own bare feet in February.
Most recently, we were in Florida, where we pulled out of the airport in our rental car and immediately rolled down the windows to hear the sound of crickets chirping at night.
Hopefully we keep our wonder slightly under wraps so as not to draw attention to ourselves as a family so seemingly deprived of summertime sights and sounds in the dead of winter.
I am always taken by the flowering shrubs that bloom during the winter months in places that are unlike our frozen, shut-down-for-the-winter landscape, such as the Bougainvillea in Hawaii or the Birds of Paradise in Los Angeles.
Except for the fact that I like to garden, and sometimes I like to dream about the months when I too will enjoy flowers in my yard, it doesn’t make me want to live in these places. But it does lift my spirits while I’m there, giving me that needed dose of springtime, to last me until it’s our turn here in Truckee.
Over the years, I’ve learned that it is really good for my family and I to get away to a warm climate in the middle of winter. I’m lucky that we’re able to take these trips. And while we relish our vacation time spent in warm weather, I am always glad to get home, too.
It had snowed while we were gone, so we came home to a changed landscape, including several more feet of snow sweeping up under the trees in our yard, and bird feeders that were empty.
I actually can see some signs of spring, but it’s a very subtle change in the seasons. It’s probably not a spring that others might notice, especially if they’re out-of-towners.
I noticed a sure sign of spring a few weekends ago, when we received a heavy wet snow that turned into a rainy afternoon.
Other signs of spring include the yellow rings of sap surrounding our fir trees, brought about by the wet snow which helps the trees shed their pitch. Also, along the edge of our driveway, the bank of snow has started to recede so we are just now getting our first peek of grass. The snow that covers the area where our septic tank lies is very sunken; my children find this quite an interesting phenomenon. Another place where snow is sunken and receding in our yard is around the tree wells.
The surest sign of springtime was revealed to me a week ago when I saw a group of robins pecking at rotten crabapples that were spread along a walkway at our church. I never knew robins ate anything other than worms. I also hadn’t seen robins yet this year, but there they were, dealing with our wet snow as if it’s just a matter of course.
It felt good to wear sandals while I was on vacation just a few short weeks ago. But now I’ve returned home to our pseudo-spring. For me, it’s not depressing, it’s just the way it is.
Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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