This isn’t exactly what I was expecting when I signed on for summer work in California, but in the mountains, summer comes late.
I’d heard earlier in the week that a storm was supposed to roll in Thursday (May 7) afternoon. Thursday was my day off, and I headed down the road to the Lodge to eat some food and use the internet. I left the campground around 11:45, and it was chilly, but the sun was out.
I watched the weather change all afternoon through the Lodge’s large windows and sent friends email weather updates. First the sky got cloudy, and there were snow flurries. Then the sun came out, and there were snow flurries. Then the flurries stopped. The sun came and went, as did the snow. Sometimes the flakes were big and fat and poured from the sky. Sometimes the flakes were tiny and came down in sheets. Sometimes wind blew the snow around. In any case, the snow didn’t seem to be sticking.
I left the Lodge around 6pm and headed to my campground. I was surprised to see a frosting of snow covering the ground, rocks, and logs. The road was clear, but everything else looked as if it had been dusted with powdered sugar.
Back at my campground, I did a drive-through in my van, just to make sure no one was camped out in a tent. The campground was empty.
I’d left my folding chair and a table outside, both of which had quite a bit of snow on them. As I knocked off the snow, I heard thunder in the distance, which scared me. No, I wasn’t scared by the surprise of a loud noise. I was worried about what it might mean to hear thunder while it was snowing. (I guess it doesn’t mean the end of the world; a local told me thunder and snow happen together frequently up here.) At that point, I climbed in the van and fired up my Mr. Buddy heater and worked on staying warm.
Over the next hour or so, until it got too dark to see out of my windows, I watched the snow change. When I got in the van, the snow had begun to fall again, in the form of little pellets of ice. They fell harder until I could hear them hit the roof of the van. The next time I looked out, the snow had changed to big, silent flakes; later, ice pellets fell again. At one point, I looked out the window and saw fog rolling in. I literally saw the fog moving. When I got into bed, I didn’t hear ice pellets hitting my roof, but there must have been more silent snow in the night, because the trees and the ground had a fluffy white coating when I woke up the next morning (Friday, May 8).
After drinking the tea I made with hot water I’d put in my Stanley bottle the night before and getting dressed in the warmth from Mr. Buddy, I swept the snow from the golf cart and took it out for a spin around the campground. The ponderosa pines sure looked pretty with snow dusting their branches! Most of the water spigots were frozen, but I found two with water still flowing.
Around 8:15, I was back at my camp making breakfast when the sun peeked out of the grey sky. The sun always encourages me, so I was glad to see it.
Between 8:30 and 9:00, my boss stopped by to see how I was doing. She told me the campground closest to where I will spend most of my summer had gotten a lot of snow.
By 9:15 I could see a patch of blue sky above the trees, and by 9:20 the sun was lighting up the snowy trees and restoring my faith that I’d get through the cold snap.
At 10:15, the heat of the sun on the wet earth and logs caused steam (or maybe it was fog) to rise up. It looked like the storm had passed, and I got to work sweeping restrooms and cleaning fire pits.
While I was working, the sky turned grey and the sun disappeared. There weren’t clouds so much as uniform greyness of sky. I started to see fog engulfing the tops of trees; the fog crept lower and lower. By the time my boss checked on me on her way back through in the mid-afternoon, I felt as if I were standing in a cloud. I could see what was around me, but everything in the (not very far away) distance was wrapped in white mystery.
Little ice pellets were falling from the sky when the boss found me cleaning the fire ring on site 16.
You don’t have to work in this, you know, she told me.
I’m not offended by this snow, I answered.
She said she was offended by it and left after I promised her I’d be done outside as soon as I finished with the fire ring.
The rest of the day was cold, foggy, wet, and muddy. I did my paperwork in the office/garage, but it was too cold to hang out there as I had planned. (The office/garage has electricity, so I can use my laptop there without running its battery down.) I spent most of the evening in the van, huddled next to Mr. Buddy, reading Eva Luna by Isabel Allende.
I took all of the photos shown in this post.