“A million feathers falling down. A million stars that touch the ground. So many secrets to be found, amid the falling snow.” -Unknown
Snow…. We have all uttered the thought that driving down snowy roads can be treacherous and slippery. Most would prefer to stay home snug in their safe sanctuaries from the potential danger. Fighting a cold had me thinking this might be the better decision to make. Except on this particular day, and despite a cold that ravaged me, I had thought that the delicate white snow crystals that were predicted to fall were the invitation I needed to face my Mt. Rose winter fear. I decided to drive up the wintry wonderland to get to the other side… and this is exactly what this once shy and sheltered girl chose to do, with the help of her 4WD friend, Cherie…
It was clear as I looked out to the West that the snow had begun to fall on Mt. Rose, and like a whisper in the wind I could hear it beckon me to come visit and see the beauty it had gifted. It was still a couple of hours from sunset and my heart responded to the calling, eager to see what those crisp and clean white views would bestow. I felt a child-like excitement wondering what those views from above might be like. I knew that driving up the mountain when it snowed would be hazardous and I didn’t have chains, yet no chain requirements were called for at this time. I predicted that I had just enough time to take on the driving challenge, see the view from Tahoe and return just before the ice would form on the roads. So, I quickly donned my warmest clothes, grabbed my camera, and out the door I went in a flash! Cherie was ready for the challenge, with a new set of tires and brakes, I had no concerns she would handle the very twisty road just fine. As we began our drive and came closer to the mountain, the sky looked grayer than what I saw in the valley, but with no fear along for the ride, I turned on some good music and onward we drove!
One hairpin turn after another, I made sure to keep my speed in check. As we neared the summit, the light rain had turned to snow and I could feel several slick spots we traversed. Oh that heart racing hormone, how it awakens the very core of our body involuntarily. Carefully, slowly, and with my eyes as big as silver dollars, Cherie and I continued up the mountain. The snowflakes became heavier and they were sticking to the road. I saw a turn-off or two and decided to take a break and enjoy the wintry view.
As I stepped out of the car into the slushy snowy mix I could feel the gentle snowflakes fall on my face… so innocent and hardly intrusive, I thought. The sun in the distance was a radiant glow as if the blanket of grey clouds were being placed over her brilliance in an effort to tuck her in for the night. The trees with new fallen snow were ever prominent, every needle, twig and branch highlighted by the powder that had fallen from above. A cold breeze blew through as if to greet me with a wintry hug; I dared not refuse such a gesture. My nose was cold, my cheeks were rosy, my cold reminded me that I should be snug in bed, but the views negated all the ice-cold thoughts and after some time of just relishing the site before me, I knew I had to move on before the evening arrived.
I returned to my car and slowly made my way down the steep grade of the mountain to the shores of Lake Tahoe. As I drove, I tried to concentrate on the road before me, but thoughts had entered my mind similar to the winter cold that permeated my body. I had lived here for some years and I had never driven up the mountain in snow….” I was too afraid”, I thought. “Afraid of what?… Death? No,… Injury? Perhaps… How sad”, I reminded myself… All this time, so many winters that had passed, millions of snowflakes missed, because of fear. I shook my head in disappointment with myself. “Oh the things I still have yet to do…”, I thought. The list that I had created at the beginning of the quest had come to mind. I thought about just a couple… skydiving… camping in the desert by myself under a sea of stars… taking a train ride across the States… swimming in the ocean… making chocolate filled croissants… getting wet under a waterfall… teaching someone illiterate how to read… And the list goes on…. How many things I should be fearful of and driving up a snowy mountain had me scared! Heavy sigh… I decided that moving forward, I will not miss a single opportunity. If someone, anyone, were to suggest to me something exciting and courageous to accomplish, albeit, not too risky, I will take the opportunity. If this were to be my last year on this earth, I whispered a promise to anyone that might listening, that I will not leave a single thing behind.
With that resolution established, I continued down to Incline Village where I decided that a warm and invigorating beverage was very much-needed after the harrowing drive. With a skinny peppermint mocha in hand and a soft chocolate chip cookie that begged to be purchased, I made my way to the shores of Lake Tahoe.
The snow had ceased over the lake as the temperature was too warm for the white precip to fall. I arrived and sat for a moment finishing my delightful sweet treat. I looked around and not another soul could be found. The shore and the view were mine to be had. The winds were gusting and the water reflected that emotion. Wave after angry wave, the water came ashore. The sun was still ever brilliant as she readied herself for the long Goodbye.
I stood… with hands in a firm hug around my coffee cup, and not even the frigid wind could scare me to retreat. I set my cup aside and placed my camera in hand as if it were a glove that fit perfectly in place. Through the lens my eyes could see the rays of heaven as they reflected off the churning water of the lake. The gold light was rich with hope and speculation of what was to come. It was hard to imagine that just a little higher and over the mountain the snow was falling in those freezing cold temps and yet there I stood fixated on taking a hundred pics of the magic of Tahoe.
Winter was arriving and her visit was welcome. In a strange sort of way, my soul felt nourished, energized at peace. I could reconcile all issues with a view such as this, even a betrayal would be a distant memory. As I looked around, I had the thought that if I lived in this fortunate location, I would have to be enticed every day to return home. I don’t recollect a place that I felt quite as attached to as this. The ocean is vast and can be dangerous, but the lake has a touchable appeal, less dangerous and the mountains that guard her shores are nothing short of awe-inspiring. I knew “that time” was approaching… so, in a reluctant fashion I bid the blue adieu, turned and walked to my parked car.
As I did so, there in a puddle near the shore stood a mighty tree and his strength and resilience was confirmed by the reflection demonstrated in the puddle at his trunk’s base. The storms he has weathered were quietly lent by the girth seen in his perfect reflection of the heart of his soul. His branches were stretched as if arms extended to signal to the lake a sign of love and peace… if only we could be reflective of such non-judgemental and loving outreach. It was that last thought that made leaving the shore feel as if I had gained some insight that made the trip worth every cough and sniffle… almost as if I had begun to feel better.
Unfortunately, my timing was off as my stay at the shore took longer than anticipated. In an effort to stay safe and not take on an icy summit, I made an executive decision to take an easier and less invasive way home. As I drove into the north end of Tahoe to get to the highway, in a split second I looked over and had a feeling that I had to act on…. I just knew this was the place to take in the last moments of what I had a feeling was going to be a mystical sunset.
I pulled over, walked just a little way down the beach. The grey clouds suddenly turned a fiery pink/orange despite the cold winds that tried to dampen the magic. There again, in a groove of standing lake water, the authenticity of heaven’s glory was reflected in the water as if to make the site even more magnificent. It was as if a most gifted artist were to take his brush and create a work of art that no one could replicate… only a reflection could mimic such grandeur. It lasted for but a minute and I felt honored to be witness to such majesty. As the glory faded many people arrived to see if they could capture the site… I turned to walk away feeling even more appreciative as if heaven had lent just a glimpse of how good it can be to only me.
As I walked to the car to start my trek home, I kept looking back as if my heart longed to stay at the shore. I was able to take on my fear of driving in the wintry conditions up a mountain with hairpin turns and steep grades. The wisdom I saw was not acquired from the act of driving… not from the slick spots that raised my heart rate and released the adrenaline… no, it was from the views that lent thoughts of love and acceptance. These were gifts granted to me that on a day I didn’t feel much like doing anything but remaining a lazybug in bed… but on the contrary, I decided to challenge my spirit and go for a drive… Sometimes we never know what sits on the other side of a scary mountain drive, but taking on that mountain is the only way we may ever know.
Feeling healed by the views of heaven and the love of the characters of this great earth and their tolerance, love and acceptance of all parts that are different in their own right… the reflection perfection was the message that reminded this once shy girl, that the statuesque tree showed no fear in his image, his beauty was unquestionable, and his flaws were non-existent… the sunset was yet another reminder that when we go on an adventure to find courage, sometimes we are gifted with a glimpse of heaven that reminds us there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Cough, what cough? Wondering what tomorrow will bring…