Carla Brennan's Blog

Reflections and Photos from The Big Trip and Beyond . .

Snow!

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Snow!
February 5, 2019

Snow was predicted for last night above 1000 ft. in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our house is at 1400 ft. so I woke up excited this morning to see what had fallen during the night. We only get snow here about every 5-10 years so this is a special event; the higher elevations have it a little more frequently.

There was a teensy bit of snow on our cars and in small patches on the ground. However, since the top of our mountain is at 2500 ft., I knew there would be more up there. I drove the two miles up Alba Road to Empire Grade in my trusty Subaru. Yes, it was a winter wonderland! There was only about an inch or so, but enough to turn the redwood forest into a beautiful lacy filigree.

Alba Road is not built for snow and ice; it is narrow, steep, winding, with drop-offs and no guard rails. And people here don’t know how to drive on snow and ice. I parked at the intersection and wandered a bit. A little Kia was parked behind me, also taking photos. When they tried to leave, their wheels just spun. I flexed my muscles getting ready to help push them out when they finally got traction and left.

I also watched several cars make the turn from Alba to Empire Grade a little too fast, fishtailing their way down the road, barely in control. One ignorant lad actually gunned the accelerator when reaching Empire Grade, causing an impressive sideways slide and coming to an eventual stop facing the wrong direction. There are no such things as snow tires or snow plows here. This reminded me of being in Amherst MA during the first fall snowfall when all the new foreign students at the University, who have never seen snow, try to drive.

It was gorgeous driving home: sun, snow, fog, dripping trees and god rays, all mixed together. After some breakfast (winter weather, makes you hungry!) I walked up and down the same two miles taking more photos. Better take advantage of this now; it will likely be another 5-10 years for the next opportunity.

I have always been a snow lover (except for the part when it’s all over the cars, roads, sidewalks, etc. And when it turns into ice.) Having snow today was like a visit from a dear old friend. One that leaves you with joy and inspiration before disappearing.

BTW, I did all of that while still in my pajamas. When there is SNOW, who has time to get dressed?

Please do not reproduce any photographs or videos without permission. If you are interested in purchasing a photograph, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com.

 

 

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Happy Winter Solstice!

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Happy Solstice to All and to All a Long Peaceful Night!
December 21, 2018.

May the increasing light be the light of wisdom. May the world expand in its understanding, empathy and caring. May people respond with compassion and action to the decimation of the planet, to bigotry, to violence and war, to the general insanity around us.

Chris and I made the last minute decision to witness the Winter Solstice sunset at the Ohlone Solstice Stones in the Santa Cruz Mountains off Skyline Blvd. The weather was promising in Santa Cruz but deteriorated as we climbed the steep and winding Highway 9. The cloud cover became dense. Eventually we entered the clouds and were enveloped in a foggy wet haze. Light rain occasionally fell. We wouldn’t see the sunset tonight but we would go anyway, stand at the sacred rocks and say a few prayers and blessings for a troubled world.

The Ohlone Solstice stones (I’ve written about them before) include a rock with a deep “V” and a large round flat rock. The V lines up with the setting solstice sun as it sinks silently into the sea. The other rock, “turtle rock,” is said to be the origin of the Ohlone people.

A few cars were parked at the trailhead, but not many. We walked up alone, the woods and the views disappearing into silence and white space. We joined several others already at the sight. People were chatting in pairs and small groups, maybe 11 in all. I said to a women near me that we must be the “hardcore solstice people.” When the weather is clear, there can be sizable crowd. Sometimes a ranger is present.

The view looks west over several ridges to the Pacific Ocean. Tonight we gazed only into a murky void, maybe 50 yards of visibility at best. I’ve been there when the weather is worse, raining hard, blowing and frigid. So this wasn’t too bad. We would just have to imagine the sunset and check our watches for the timing.

About 5 minutes before the sun set, the group naturally fell into silence, just standing quietly, peaceably, together around the stones facing west. Just at the time of sunset, at the farthest edge of what we could see, a buck walked slowing out of the tree cover and crossed the grassy meadow on the slope below. Then a second buck followed him. Both carried handsome, impressive sets of antlers. They disappeared into the fog.

Eventually people began moving around, preparing for the short hike to the cars. Chris and I did our silent blessings, offering gratitude and a little tobacco to the spirits.

Please do not reproduce any photographs or videos without permission. If you are interested in purchasing a photograph, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com

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