It was the trees that I remember the most, lying in the back seat of my parents’ car on old Highway 40… in the Sierras on the way to San Francisco to visit my grandmother and seeing the trees – pines mostly – all lined up on the ridges and I wanted to go up there – to touch and smell and be with them. And later there were summers, on the beach at Tahoe – in the sixties. I remember the smell of the lake, the water and the scent of gasoline from speed boats – jumbled together with the incense of the pines and the aroma of tacos from the ramshackle stands at Kings Beach. I thought it was heaven.
Later I think it was the nights that I loved – the cool pine laden air wafting in the windows… and long walks along the beach – the water lap, lap, lapping.
Hiking…the eau de parfume of Sierra trail… lupines, mule ears, firs, and dust. Later – the dirt dribbles off my face in the shower and tastes – well, like the trail. I smile.
Aspens have personalities I have learned – a shimmering, quaking, aliveness that you can feel in any season but it is strongest in the fall, of course. They decorate the pines with yellow leaf ornaments… until they are blown away by cold winds. The clatter of dry mule ears tells me winter is coming.
Snow – I like snow. I savor the muffled quiet it creates when it’s snowing heavily – a world of white and peace.
Ski lifts – the faint sound of moving through the air… swoosh. Skis carving into snow – satisfying. Snow plows… in the night… listening – is it a grader, truck with blade or maybe a blower. You learn these things. And the booms in early morning… the assurance that it has snowed… lots, and that snow is under control, avalanche control that is.
There comes a day in the spring when you can smell the earth again… dirt, pine needles, and emerging green… and I grin at the thought of another Sierra summer.
I came to the mountains… for this.