Mar 9, 2011 by

Mountain High Ski Resort at nightThe weather report says that we high desert dwellers can expect another freeze tonight. Our youngest daughter, who lives with us, keeps two horses on the back part of our nearly acre lot. She has it fenced, and set up very nicely with a round pen, three stalls and a tack room. They are wonderful animals and provide her with many hours of pleasure (and work) but they also provide us with an interminable number of flies each spring and summer, so it is a welcome time when the first ice of the year freezes their little buns off.

Winter, a time that many people dread, is a season we excitedly look forward to each year. Before you write me off as some dodo who has lost all of his marbles, let me explain. We live in an area of the Mojave Desert that is home to thousands of Joshua Trees, Yucca plants, bushes of sage, rabbit weed and in the springtime wildflowers that are beyond description. We also live within five miles of the San Gabriel Mountains. A short outcropping of mountainous terrain that runs along the northern end of the San Fernando Valley if you are looking at them from the Los Angeles side and borders practically the whole Antelope Valley if you are looking at them from the high desert side. They are beautiful mountains that reach upwards of 9,000 feet into the smoggy sky of L. A. but they are crystal clear in the desert sky. They provide us with a mountain view that is unsurpassed in our estimation. A view of the South American Andes, the Swiss Alps, or the “Lost Horizon” Himalayas is not any more spectacular to us. In the winter time, especially, they are sentinels of snow and ice and constantly remind us that we live in a true four season area.

We came from a coastal town in California where the average temperature is 72 degrees, citrus orchards of oranges and lemons abound as it is a frost free area and the sun shines 298 days out of the year (It may be more than that but that figure is stuck in my mind so I’ll go with it). It is a wonderful place to live if you can adjust to homes built on ¼ acre (sometimes less) lots, traffic so thick that it can actually take an hour to drive five miles and water so hard you can’t break it with a hammer. Oh, and if you want to live in that predictable seasonal atmosphere, be ready to pay, for the cost of living is much higher than it is in our desert hideaway. On the coast we saw snow on the ground twice in fifty years and only on a few occasions did we see the temperature rise over 100 degrees. One day bumps into the next with very little change so that it is hard to know if you are in spring, summer, fall or winter.

Here in the desert there is no question about what season is upon you. The first frost of fall is usually quickly followed by the first snowfall of the year that covers the San Gabriel’s with a coating of snow like the icing on a wedding cake, and with the lights of Mountain High ski resort glistening along the night time ski runs. From our home the individual stresses, such as traffic, the snow machines grooming the runs and the crush of skiers, is myopically blended into a panorama of mountain beauty. We see lovely winter scenes from our swing on our front porch and we love being fly free.

As the winter progresses and a new year begins, the first longings for spring commence. It is visible in the white blossoms of the Joshua Tree first, then the receding snow and ice until finally there are no lights on the ski runs and we know that another season of snow sliding has come and gone. Now we anticipate the lovely promise of spring with its bouquet of wildflowers coloring the landscape with bright orange poppies, purple lupine, yellow buttercups and green, green grass that too soon is brown. But, for the months of March and April, we are blessed with nature’s array of floral beauty.

From the cold of winter, to the cool of spring finally the heat of summer is upon us. Like any intelligent human being we put away our heavy clothing for light dress, change our diet from the high carbs of winter to the light fare of summer and take shelter with our air conditioner to stay cool until the evening hours when we can once again sit in our swing on the front porch and bat the flies away. We love our four season existence and invite you all to come and sit in our swing and enjoy it with us.

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  1. If things don’t get under control in Japan we may have a 5th season called Nuclear Fallout. The is where all life turns florescent colors and loses it leaves, hair, skin, scales, etc. You get the point.

  2. William (Bill) J. Nelson


    Another skillfully written and interesting piece of prose. I, too, am in a
    four season place where the winters see many subfreezing, snowy days and many days of summer, while sunny, are hot and humid. Oh, to be
    back in San Buena Venura!!

    Billy N

  3. L. "Babe" Martinez-Lorenzana

    Hi Guys,
    (I remember the Cheer Leader click from high school were always saying “Hi Guys”.). I enjoy reading your column in the Moments Count Journal. I also live in a four seasons area, however, when we get more than a few inches of snow, then this Beach Boy from Ventura who grew up about a block from what is now Surfers Point at the foot of Figuroa St., realized that snow is not my thing. John, didn’t you jam with us at the Pirates Den by the High School when we were in school? Don’t know how good we were, but we had fun.
    Bueno Bye for now. Babe Martinez

  4. I am going to get over there before too long and I look forward to “a sit” on the swing.