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Year in Yosemite: Santa's Baby

The writer's daughter and her friend know exactly what to do when it dumps snow in Yosemite.

Remember the old warning, "If you don't behave, Santa's going to leave a snowball in your stocking?" Turns out at our house that threat rings hollow. There's nothing our daughter would rather get than snow.

Raised in Los Angeles and too young to remember her first and only encounter with the white stuff, she was positively aching to experience it. In October, when the first few flurries showed up, she ran outside, crazy with excitement. But by the time she’d stuck her tongue out to catch the flakes, they had melted in the warming air.

So desperate was she that a November hailstorm sent her flying out onto the deck, where she built teeny little hailmen complete with stone eyes and noses. But then the weather turned unseasonably warm. Most of November was in the 70s.

And they're off!

This, of course, made me incredibly happy. In spite of living in a place where snow, ice and cold hang on for 4 or 5 months, I was secretly hoping that this year, winter (perhaps out of sympathy for my thin L.A. blood) would show up for maybe a week or so. In June … while I'm away on vacation.

Promises of global warming aside, at exactly midnight on December 7th, the snow began to fall. It then proceeded to float and flutter to the ground for the next twelve hours. When I first saw it, I thought about waking my daughter. But my ever-practical mother mind (the one that likes to sleep) took over, and I let it go 'til morning.

By then, snow covered everything –- ground, rocks, roads, roofs, trees and cars –- in its winter coat of white. Outside the temperature was a balmy 11 degrees. But that didn't bother my daughter. Normally, she prefers to lie in bed, groaning that she's tired and cold. But on this morning, she jumped out of bed, threw on whatever she could find and made herself breakfast. Then, too excited to eat, she ran out, grabbed the shovel and began to clear off the deck. She might have been trying to get on Santa's good side. She certainly got on mine.

As did the snow. For months I had dreaded its arrival. I don't like to be cold. I certainly have no desire to drive in it. Shoveling? No way. Not for me. But there I was, wrapped up in every outdoor garment I could find, walking my daughter to school in weather that has people across the country making a beeline for the Sun Belt. And I was enjoying every step. In fact, it seemed perfect. Like the way Yosemite is meant to be. Quiet. And white. And beautiful. And serene. Sort of, I imagine, like the North Pole. No wonder Santa lives there.

-- Jamie Simons

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