Snowfall can bring out the flakes

Bob Rodriguez
Bob Rodriguez

Being a native of Southern California’s San Diego, my experience with snow was extremely limited except for driving to higher elevations such as Palomar Mountain and the Cleveland National Forest during winter. Otherwise, I was pretty much a snowflake until moving to the Big Horn Basin a few years ago.

However, as a semiconscious, quite young child my parents and I had some snow time in the Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear areas of SoCal, thanks to Uncle Clarence. A real estate agent in San Bernardino, he had access to large, vacant vacation homes in snow country and we made long weekend vacation trips to them several times during periods of snowfall. For whatever reason the memories of those times are faint, maybe because I was (A) a weird little boy, (B) fearful of “the white stuff,” as some weather folks say ad nauseam, or (C) so cold that part of my brain froze.

But one memorable snow time, when I was in my early 20s (I guess that my brain had unfrozen by then), occurred when in Escondido, Calif. working in the North County bureau of the former San Diego Evening Tribune. It’s a locale known for hot temperatures. So when my city editor rang me at 5 one morning to say that there had been a freak snowstorm, I was surprised. He ordered me to take photos and get them ASAP to the main office in downtown San Diego, some 30 miles south of Escondido.

Quick as a flash (a flash camera) I donned my reporter’s shirt and tie, slacks and shiny shoes. For some obscure reason, perhaps because of being excited (or stupid), I did not wear a jacket. Once outside it was obvious that the city editor was absolutely correct about the unusual weather, as it was freezing cold; most everything had a layer of ice crystals; and my head quickly became chilled.

Off I went looking for good photos, still without a jacket and feeling chilly, but ignoring that (see “frozen brain” above). Got the shots and headed down old U.S. 395 for the main office with my exposed film. The strange weather had deposited a light coating of snow all the way south, so driving was a bit hazardous. In fact, there were so many traffic accidents due to slick roadways that the police agencies were advising motorists to simply exchange insurance info if there were no injuries. There literally were hundreds of fender benders because SoCal drivers had no idea how to navigate snowy streets.

One of my photos made page 1 and several others were used on page 2 of the daily newspaper, so I was pleased. The pleasure was diminished when I began feeling feverish on the way back to Escondido. Before long I was down with strep throat. Should have worn a jacket.

Even on the Oregon coast, where we lived in a so-called “Banana Belt” for nearly eight years, there was an incident of abnormal frozen objects. There actually was snow on the beaches and I did get photos. (I wore a jacket that time.)

Besides the beauty of snowfall on the terrain “snow” is used in other ways. We talk about being snowed under or getting a snow job from someone. Some have been snowbound or suffered snow blindness. We all know that snow will come during winter. Sometimes it will be light, sometimes heavy and sometimes overbearing. One can only grin and bear it (on a snow shovel), and just say, “Snow what?”

by Bob Rodriguez