‘Pea Eye, the tallest man in the group, had developed a new fear, which was that he would be swallowed up in a snowdrift. He had always worried about quicksand, and now he was in a place where all he could see, for miles around, was a colder version of quicksand.’

~ ‘Lonesome Dove,’ by Larry McMurtry


I just finished reading ‘Lonesome Dove,’ all 945 glorious pages. In addition to feeding my cowgirl dreams, it also brought home how rugged and courageous early settlers were. In the book, a ragtag group of cowboys, many just barely out of puberty, drive 2,600 cattle from Texas to Montana. They are outside day and night, with one pair of boots each and their saddles for pillows. For the majority of the crew, the journey brings their first experience with snow.

When I first arrived in Tahoe, I was woefully ill equipped. My ride was a ’94 purple Honda Civic, sporty but with a meager six inches of ground clearance. The only time I had seen snow (at least in recallable memory) was a rare dusting of the Florida panhandle in ’93. Arriving here 12 years ago, I had no wool socks, no firewood-chopping chops, no chains, no down jacket, no snow-sliding skills.

But it turns out that it wasn’t the gear or skills that held me back the most. It was the claustrophobic feeling of the entire landscape being covered up. The brown dirt, green growth, and blue rivers were covered up indiscriminately — leaving few landmarks and precious little space where I could walk with unaided feet. The visceral reaction was unexpected, and it was unnerving.

As they do, the years went by and I got used to it. It got so that I could find my way easier up a snowcapped hill than through the unimaginative and achingly straight roadways of Florida. And except for the first few weeks of winter when it takes some gettin’ used to, all season long I gaze lovingly at snow, marveling at how it covers everything up so beautifully.

As always,
Mayumi Elegado


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