The Silent Snow Fall

img_7522Recently, I was at my second home in Tahoe. It and the many friends that came with it comprise some of my most treasured memories. It is one of my many, many blessings and I am deeply grateful that I have it. It is one thing that I never take for granted.

We bought the home in May of 2007. It was the same month we got delivery of our beloved golden doodle named Polly as in the movie, Along Came Polly.  I haven’t been there for a while, but every time I am there I get the same feeling of happiness, peace and joy.  How I can forget how much I love it there I do not know.

I arrived in the afternoon, and visited with my wonderful neighbors. My dog Polly is not one to wait to be invited in, but just runs into the open doors of the neighbors and finds them in their homes to say hello. This is usually how they know we’ve arrived and they will come out and say hello while I’m outside unloading the car. This is our habit, and then we will text and take the dogs out for hikes or other excursions in the days that follow.

Before going to dinner with my dear friends Susan and Fred, I took Polly for a walk along the path that runs from my house to the top of Northstar Resort. Northstar is the mountain we skied every winter when the kids were growing up. It is also the place of our most cherished family memories. I know that I was fortunate to have an entire family that would ski or snowboard all day long without complaint or boredom. I always thought at some point the kids would go and ski with their friends, but they never did, we always skied together as a family, all four of us on the chair lift together with our friends and houseguests. Sometimes there would be three or four other families with us.

It’s almost painful to remember those many days and how the things I worried about most were so mundane, like what to make everyone for lunch, or who to invite up for New Years Eve. Things have changed so much and grown so complex.

My favorite days in Tahoe were the days when the storms would come closing the pass to the bay area. We would be trapped there with the roads closed in all directions. There is a silence in that valley that is like nowhere else. It is almost like waking up in a dream.

One year my friend Barb and I took the kids up to ski. I called her and told her we have to leave right now. There is a big storm coming and we have to outrun it. I immediately left and she wasn’t far behind. These were the days when I was very unpopular at the grade school because I would pull my kids out of school to ski. The school secretary did not like it when I arrived in snow boots and a parka saying both my children had dental appointments (I said this so the school would not be penalized by an unexcused absence).

I got a great deal of judgement for this at the time, as many of my friends believed that school, grades and being focused on college in grade school was a good thing. After everything that has happened, I now have absolutely no regrets, as the mountain has lessons that no school can teach.

Luckily, Barb is as adventurous as I am and had no problem driving straight into a snowstorm. She was the last car allowed over the pass before it closed. We skied that afternoon as the snow fell and the next day we woke to six feet of fresh powder. There was almost no one else on the mountain and we skied all day long with the kids.

Other days, I would wake up and the pass would be closed and the snow would be falling.  Silent. White. Pure. Peaceful.

My days now are complicated and full of endless obligations, responsibilities and duties. Yet, the memories of those days are lodged deep inside my mind. When I get stressed or anxious all I have to do is think of those moments. Below zero, my breath visible in the air, and the snow falling softly all around me.

Love and blessings to all.

Out with the Traditions

For many years, I held tightly to our family traditions. Every holiday resembled the previous one with only slight variations and adjustments. Recently, I’ve begun to question the wisdom of this. It’s as if I believed that by following a predictable routine I could control the uncontrollable. But life doesn’t work like this, it is inherently unpredictable, and often devastating. There is no way to escape this.

Last year, we were in Tahoe doing our predictable holiday routine. All was well, and then an argument erupted over nothing on the gondola, and our Christmas Day tradition of skiing all day splintered into a thousand pieces. Teenage girls are maddening, and for the first time, I refused to cook the holiday traditional dinner. I could not spend two hours pouring my heart into preparing a meal that I felt would go largely unappreciated.

We drove from the the ski resort down to Lake Tahoe in our ski clothes and went to Garwoods and sat in the bar. This was a definite and startling break from the past. It was however, one of the most relaxing and delicious meals I have ever had. We sat by the fire looking out over the snowy lake. Afterward, we walked along the shore of Lake Tahoe, the water was calm and as smooth as a mirror reflecting the pink and blue sky as the sun went down.

This year, we’re in Moraga for Christmas and I decided to leave town and go to Napa for a few days. The fires have adversely impacted the wine industry, and they are hurting. We spent two hours at Darioush with an Italian historian and wine sommelier in the caves below the winery, and then another two hours at Trinchero tasting some of the most beautiful red wine I have ever had. We were the only people there. The sky was overcast, but the club room had a giant fireplace with swivel chairs. They treat you very well there, serving beautiful platters of cured meats and cheeses adorned with quince, nuts and dried fruits with their beautiful wine. They even ended with a lovely dessert wine, and biscotti and egg nog cheese cake. It was possibly one of the most pleasant and enjoyable afternoons of my life.

Maybe traditions are not as important as we have been taught to believe. Living well is an adaptive experience clearly.

This has been a wonderful holiday season, not what I would have expected, and in no way reminiscent of the past, but delightful none the less.

Love and blessings to all.

Boyfriends, Mountain Tops & Being an Environmentalist

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Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon 1986

My high school boyfriend taught me how to ski by throwing me down the face of Mt. Bachelor. He took me down a treacherous black diamond trail, ironically called Texas, that ran from the top of that mountain straight down to the Lodge. It was one of the most terrifying episodes of my life, but I soon mastered the basics and was hooked.

At Oregon State, my then boyfriend, took me on a ski trip my freshman year. There was nothing about it that I didn’t like. I loved spending time in the cabin with friends, skiing all day with the snow falling, and sitting at the top eating lunch overlooking a vast and pristine valley.

Many ski trips followed, including one to Whistler, Canada with my Alpha Phi Big Sis Susie White, also an avid skier.  We could not of had more fun.

I didn’t think of myself as an environmentalist then.  I only knew that I loved nature.  And there wasn’t anything I enjoyed more than skiing down a snowy mountain with the people I loved.  I realize that what I valued most was the serene and unspoiled beauty of these landscapes.  I was blessed to be able to share this love with my own children who spent the majority of their childhood in Lake Tahoe, winter and summer, either skiing, hiking, or paddle boarding.

When I found sailing, I felt the same way about it.  I love the beauty of the ocean, the gorgeous Islands that sit off of San Francisco, the inlets around Tiburon and the incomparable beauty of sitting on a boat as the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge. These settings and the people I am with have combined to create some of the most priceless moments of my life. So, that is why I am an environmentalist.  I think in many ways, we all are environmentalist, we have to be, it is no longer a hobby, but a necessity of this life.

The Trident Project, our nonprofit, has an Ocean clean up scheduled for the end of January, 2018.  We will be partnering with Save The Bay, and will provide an environmental education component geared toward the elimination of plastic usage, as well as a clean up effort to remove plastic and other garbage from San Francisco Bay (I will share more as we get closer to the date).

Along with all the other environmentalists, or nature lovers, I will dedicate my life to preserving these beautiful places for the people I love, my own children, and all the children that come after them. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my life.

Love and blessings to all.