As we were watching the commemorative Fred Wiseman flight takeoff from the airport on Saturday we looked up and saw snow peaking out from beneath the clouds around Sonoma Mountain. At first we thought our eyes were playing tricks on us but when the clouds momentarily lifted we clearly saw the snow stretching down through the crevices of the mountain. Without any hesitation we hopped in the car and headed east in search of a snowy encounter.
Heading up the mountain we saw cars emerging with chunks of snow clinging to their roof racks and hoods. With each turn the views of snow got clearer and closer. Herds of lamas and sheep went about searching for grass in the snowy ground, their ice-encrusted coats keeping them protected from the cold. It was our son’s first encounter with snow and as the ground turned white he squealed with excitement. His infectious enthusiasm made me think back to the snowy days we had in my East Bay town as a kid. It probably only happened a couple of times but the memories are still vivid; the magic of the snow was amplified by its unexpected occurrence in my own backyard.
When we reached an area with a large enough shoulder we stopped to poke around. It was already past 1:00pm but about two inches of snow still clung to the ground. In every direction, as far as our eyes could see, the ground was covered in white. We might as well have been somewhere in the low Sierras instead of fifteen minutes from Petaluma. It was hard to believe we’d just been at the beach two weeks ago! My son had fortuitously demanded to wear his fireman rain boots that day and we found a pair of little fleece mittens tucked away in the pockets of the backseat, left there from a cold drive to school one morning. My husband and I (mostly me) were not as well prepared but we were too caught up in the moment to care about the cold. Our son scooped up the snow in his hands and touched it, then tasted it, baffled by the strange substance. I photographed furiously while they threw snowballs and made a little snowman perched on top of a log.
Wanting more we decided to head further up the road, which turned out not to be very far. The road soon came to an end; cars were parked end-to-end and people were scattered across the nearby hill. In all manner of dress people were running and sliding in the snow, making snowman, and even sledding down the hill. Laughter, hoots, and hollers could be heard from all corners of the lot; it was pure spontaneous merriment. Our son fearlessly scooted his way up the hill with my husband not far behind. I carefully squished my way through the soggy ground in my clogs. When we arrived at the top of the hill we could only marvel at the view, acres of rolling hills covered in snow with Cotati peeking through in the distance.
Joined by some friends, we played in the snow for at least an hour. By the end my husband had rolled a snowball more than a foot and half in diameter, a sheep pellet peppered snowball; a Petaluma snowball. Back in the car we thawed our shivering bodies, faces pink and tingly from the cold, smiling from ear to ear. A little snowman balanced on our sunroof elicited some smiles from oncoming traffic as we drove home, sharing a bit of the spontaneous snow fun to people beyond the mountain.
The mountains to the north of Santa Rosa and over into the Napa Valley were covered in snow this past weekend, some areas reported as much as two feet! More snow is on its way this weekend, predicted as low as 500 feet, so get that snow gear ready and go have some late winter fun!