Guest column: Tahoe storms that nostalgia are made of
I was lucky enough to be born and raised in the tiny and beautiful little town of South Lake Tahoe, a mountain utopia that never fails to thrill and delight me to my core.
Well, this little sleepy town of ours is slowly emerging from a four-day blizzard event that brought over 10 feet of snow into our mountains and followed some of the craziest flooding I have ever seen in my 31 years of living here.
Our town was shut down, and every single home around the entire lake was absolutely clobbered with a river of rain and then a mountain of relentless snow. Very few businesses remained open, ski resorts closed from the danger of high wind and avalanche threat (one of them did experience a massive avalanche), our kids’ schools have been closed four days in a row and have yet to open.
Roadways in and out of town closed over mountain passes at certain times.
And so we all cozied up and hunkered down with our families. The power outages and wind were truly awesome and humbling to behold (I was sure the snow falling from the trees was bombing my roof at night), and the snow … oh man, the snow.
The rate of snowfall has been gorgeous and nostalgia-inducing as we watched our children experience the true “snow days” from the good ole’ days of winter’s past.
For me, it was like re-living a sweet and pleasant dream from my own childhood: town is completely closed, no one enters or exits, no school for days at a time. You jump out of bed in awe at the glorious sight out your window, light as a feather with no school in sight, and you find these magical pockets of time to go outside.
You play in your yard and build a snowman on your deck. You go sledding down your driveway and the snowballs are so easy to make that when you throw them they explode like little bombs of fluffy confetti.
Snowflakes flutter from the sky and they collect on your eyelashes and melt on your tongue like the softest pieces of fluff with a hint of the most perfect water you have ever tasted.
Everything is blanketed in glistening white and the flakes are swirling like a little universe of falling stars. The air is perfectly silent and thick with … what is that magical silence that saturates the air in between the snowflakes?
There is no word for it, but I think as a child it feels more intense. Then that lonely car drives by your house with chains on and it sounds exactly like sleigh bells cutting through the air and echoing down the road. Then the deafening and delicious silence is back again and you don’t have a single care or worry in this simple and beautiful world.
This is what Tahoe winter means to those of us who were lucky enough to grow up here. To those of us who have lived here for 20, 30 years, it lives in our souls and it is part of who we are. In that string of five winter-less years, it was so easy to forget or just wonder if you dreamed the entire thing. But now we wake up to these storms and we can vividly remember again.
Now we can look into the simple and sheer joy of our children’s fresh, rosy faces covered in snow and smiles, and just like that, it comes back to us.
Building a snowman with my 2-year-old daughter on the same deck where I used to build them with my sister when we were very little … and it comes back to me.
Seeing her eyes twinkle and hearing that laugh as she fearlessly sleds down my own childhood sledding hill … and it comes back to me.
I suddenly realize it wasn’t a pleasant dream in the back of my subconscious — it was real, it was my beautiful childhood. After living this storm I suddenly know in my heart of hearts that we used to have winters like this all the time — snowstorms that wreaked havoc on our driveways and feet upon feet of snow that brought our snow berms towering over our wondrous little 3-foot-tall heads like a mountain.
I think the raddest feeling to come out of this storm, for me, was the feeling of watching my daughter experience the quality of snow that I vividly remember in my childhood soul.
And then I had this life-changing realization: From now on, I get to relive every single thing through her. I get to start over again, and grow up in Tahoe one more time.
I have never felt more blessed in any period of my life as I do right now.
Kalotina Reilly is a South Lake Tahoe native and owner of Sunrise Ski & Snowboard Rental in Meyers. When she is not spending time with her daughter she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.