I’m on vacation right now with my fiance’s family in Tahoe, in the real mountains. I used to feel embarrassed about being from California, mostly because I hate weather, that is, Pittsburgh’s traditional four-months-of-hellish-black-clouds-and-torrents-of-sleeting-snow-with-no-sign-of-the-sun-for-weeks vision of weather. But while California may not have weather (wet and burning do not count), Pittsburgh does not have topography. The highest mountain in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains is Mt Davis (3,213 ft). This is about the height of one of the medium mountains in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are really just hills and about a third as high as Heavenly (10,040 ft) in the Sierras, where I will be skiing tomorrow. California wins, totally dude.
I am a lot happier with snow in California than in Pittsburgh. I spent several hours just sliding down a snow-hill on my butt (theoretically I was on a saucer, but really, I was on my butt) and then engaged in a massive, multi-generational snowball fight.
In between runs and snowball volleys, I did some people watching. The social dynamics on the hill were fascinating, and reflected the needs and preoccupations of four distinct groups. There were the families with 1-2 year olds, who stood cluelessly at the bottom of the snowhill, blinking as members of the other groups swerved around them. There were the dads of the 5-9 crowd, who grumbled at those standing at the bottom of the hill while standing in the middle of the slope, watching their kids careen around the 1-2 year olds and their escorts. The 9-13 group delighted in rolling in the snow and guffawing and at their collisions but got out of the way when the bigger kids came through. The best behaved people on the hill were in the 15-25 group–we knew the rules, got out of the way when we messed up or finished and generally went after fun in a businesslike manner which reflected our sure knowledge that we would have to go back to work/SATs/ College in a few weeks and this was the only fun we would see for a while.
UPDATE (12/26/09): Here are photos from the trip!
“ALL those things that many women think their husbands don’t do well enough — the cleaning and feeding and laundry and child care — we think of as drudgery. They are also power. They are how women exercise control over their lives and families. Women naturally don’t want to give up power in any sphere. Many women don’t really want husbands to be more like empowered wives. That would mean women would have to give up some power over their children. I suspect the only reason I finally relented was that I was giving up that power not to a husband but to a woman I call my wife.”–Sara Sarasohn in Modern Love, August 2009, New York Times