I was born in Long Beach, near Los Angeles, and raised in Oakland, in the San Francisco Bay Area. My family sometimes drove to Lake Tahoe or Yosemite in the winter so we could play in the snow and sled or ski. Have I mentioned my terror of going fast downhill? But that’s for another blog.

I had zero experience living in the snow. Except that one time it snowed a couple of inches in the Oakland hills. I’ve always loved telling my daughters about the time I walked a mile to school in the snow! Uphill both ways!!

Then, my husband and I moved to Colorado.

Our cute Swiss Chalet was situated at 7,230 feet on a nice-sized lot with pine trees. Both of us camped with our families and loved it. We had LOTS of summer experience in the mountains. I even worked an entire summer at Yellowstone National Park! We just knew we were going to absolutely enjoy every minute of every season at 7, 230 feet!

I was so excited when the weather forecaster talked about the upcoming snow and daytime highs in the mid-to low 30s. That first winter, we didn’t get much snow. Piece of cake, I thought. What’s the big deal about living in the snow? We even hand shoveled our one hundred-fifty-foot driveway. I think we had to do it twice.

I admit, I was surprised one morning by a thick layer of clear, hard stuff on my windshield that my wipers couldn’t budge. Not having an ice-scraper handy (what were those for anyway?) , I picked up a piece of bark and started chipping away.

By year two, we bought a snow-blower. We also learned to park our cars at the end of the driveway close to the road. That way we’d only have to shovel the snow thrown up by the plow. And we knew the neighbor with the snow tractor. I kept a sleeping bag in my car. Blizzards could close the highway, and I wanted to be prepared.

I worked the police beat at a newspaper downtown; my hours were 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. (more crime then). One night after work, I drove the twenty-five miles to our chalet in a sideways snow storm, creeping along the highway about five mph, my headlights tracing the painted white line. Stupid. The highway closed later. We were snowed in the next few days with no electricity. Our well pump was electric, so we didn’t have water either.

Another time, we drove home in a snowstorm with one windshield wiper working. My brother stuck his hand out the passenger window, and used his bare palm to wipe the other side of the windshield. Just something you do when you live in the snow.

One Thanksgiving, we visited family in California. Colorado temperatures were in the sixties when we left. We were excited to play tennis and run around in shorts. Why would we think of snow? Of course a storm blew through the morning of our return. We trudged down our snow-drifted driveway to our chalet in our California shoes: our socks soaking wet and icy.

I’m happy to be back in Southern California where I don’t have to worry about black ice or leaving a nice, warm restaurant bundled for an icy blast the minute I step outside. But, I’ll never forget the quiet mornings after a snowstorm. The hush of a snow-filled forest. The white-etched pine needles silhouetted against the brilliant blue Colorado sky. The sparkling expanse of an unmarked blanket of snow – full of unwritten possibilities just like the beginning of a new novel.