Showing Up (With Shovels, Even) For Each Other


During big snowstorms, the Tahoe City neighborhood where I live with my husband and 15-year-old dog gets especially busy. We all spend even more than the usual amount of time outdoors, snowblowing driveways, shoveling walkways, and pawing into snowbanks to find powder-packed bear boxes. We battle berms, brush off cars, and crack through ice building up on roofs.

Deep snow in the ‘hood can be a pain, but also it builds camaraderie. One morning this winter during one of the many power outages here, neighbors ventured into the fluffy-white street out front to help each other with offerings of whatever they could. They gave jugs of water to those whose faucets (on personal wells) were dribbling, and they shared cookies and roast chicken with those who couldn’t turn on electric stoves. One neighbor delivered fresh coffee in thermoses to keep us all warm.

The Moonshine office, which exists in a teeny rented 1930s house in Truckee, needed care, too. A favorite 2023 memory came when all the Ink staff members showed up to shovel away piles of snow that were bunched on the office’s back porch and pressed against the house’s outside walls. It took hours to remove the chunky stuff, but we had so much fun. We tossed snowballs over snowbanks at each other and mimed each other’s shoveling techniques (chuckling like kids). We didn’t get enough workout shoveling our own place, so we cleaned the neighbor’s driveway, too.


There’s a reason
we struggle so hard to put things right. We want to live here happily with one another.

Don’t get me wrong, the feet and feet of snow caused headaches, too. And ski resort traffic. The problems may drive some newbies away; but for the many of us living here because we love the mountains, the lakes, small towns, our history — we also plainly enjoy each other; and, as Marianne Porter writes in this issue’s Think Local section, we are staying. The snowmageddon reminded me of that. (See the article assessing this year’s snow totals.)

In this edition, as in each and every one, we recognize the pleasures of living here alongside the challenges. (Learn about doctor shortages.) You’ll find a story reflecting on the book Leticia Aguilar wrote recently about generating the kind of love she rarely experienced as a child. You can check out new evidence showing that plunging into icy water — as Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake have in wintertime — can actually be good for you, and read how an electrician came to the rescue of Moonshine Ink to repair the electrical system damaged by a roof crunched in a snowstorm.

Passion for this place also is evident in the historical (and hysterical) memories that David Fenimore conjures about the once-thriving We the People natural foods co-op. And it’s clear in a story about kids in our Think Local section, which runs quarterly.

Yes, we need to improve traffic circulation, limit tourism, find housing solutions, and fix other problems — you’ve wrote to us about that. (We can do it!) There’s a reason we struggle so hard to put things right. We want to live here happily with one another. Sometimes that requires a shovel. 


  • Laura Read

    A 32-year Lake Tahoe resident, Laura Read is a freelance writer and editor who's published essays, travel stories, and features in Moonshine Ink, the San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Traveler, Sierra, MIT Technology Review, The Furrow, and others. She edited the Wolfdale's Cuisine Unique cookbook by Douglas Dale and copy edited Hans Burkhart's memoir, Above and Beyond - My Life Giving the World a Lift. She lives in Tahoe City.

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