Sitting here looking out the window at everything covered in snow, I’ll bet you are thinking this gift from the heavens might end up being the topic of my column. All I can say is “kinda, maybe” because, though it’s a rarity around these parts, having lived here for so long this definitely isn’t my first rodeo. So before I go rambling on, I’ll quickly tell you my best Lowcountry snow tale.
I’m guessing it was in the mid ’80s when it dumped a foot or more of snow in a very short period of time. The reason I remember that is because the tide was low, and early in the morning I went to the beach and it was bizarre seeing snow, not sand, stretching nearly a hundred yards to the water’s edge. Anyway, being the childish type that you all no doubt have figured out by now, I decided to make a sled. Harmless right? Not so fast there, because mine was a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood that I could drag behind my car loaded down with my two kids and all the other younguns in the neighborhood. Oh, by the way, my car was the safest vehicle around.
It was an ancient Suzuki Samurai with rusted out floorboards, crappy brakes and smelled like a dead fish making it more like a Fred Flintstone car. My friends wouldn’t even ride in it.
In the time it took me to make my super sled, the snow had turned to ice but that didn’t deter me one bit. “Load up, you little heathens!” I yelled out to the kids who had gathered. It was only their persistence that trumped my wife and other parental objections, so off I went. Loaded to the hilt with precious cargo across solid ice, I took it slowly until I heard kids screaming something while waving their arms. “Faster you say?” — alrighty then!
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Slipping and sliding, I barreled on and the screams got louder, and louder. It was about then that I saw smoke behind me, then glowing embers flying followed by kids tumbling off my sled and rolling down the road. Friction on the icy road had caught the board on fire! Needless to say, that was very last time I was allowed to make a sled of any shape or form.
So there is my snow story. Good one, huh? I’m surprised I can even make sense, because right now I am in the bowels of the mother of all colds no doubt contracted on my way back from California aboard a flying Petri dish otherwise known as a plane. Cold or not, what a great Christmas I had with my son Logan. Now living and working in LA for the nonprofit organization called “Heal The Bay,” distance has kept us apart far more than I ever imagined. But talk about proud that he has dedicated himself to the nonprofit sector and making things better for everyone, I am like a peacock strutting his stuff.
The day after Christmas he and I hopped in his car for a totally spontaneous road trip. No advance reservations anywhere, no agenda whatsoever, just go with the flow and hopefully not end up in one of the fires still raging along the way north. I will say it was pretty darn amazing seeing such a huge chunk of the area destroyed by the fires. In some areas, the smoke hid mountains less than a mile in front of us.
Once past those areas, we headed to Yosemite National Park, a place I had really never explored. From the moment we entered the park I was totally blown away by just how massive it all was. Coming from a place where any rock around was brought from elsewhere to a place like that was humbling. Add to that learning more about my son’s new life along with his dreams for the future, and I was like a pig in slop.
From there we hit Monterey, Big Sur and a thousand other places in-between. Fresh Dungeness crab and gobs of melted butter dripping off our smiling lips, the amazing Monterey Aquarium, barking seals and incredible rocky coastlines are just a few of things that still tickle my senses. Nothing can touch reconnecting with those you love whether intentionally or maybe even by accident. I guess my grandmother was right when she said, “the best present is presence.” 2017, what a ride!