The first frost of the season in Marblemount, Washington on October 31, 2017; photo by Amy Sanchez
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Snow: Embracing the Unknown

This Naturalist Note is written by graduate student Amy Sanchez, as part of her fall natural history project. You can view other students' work here.

November 3, 2017 was the first day we saw snow falling at the Environmental Learning Center. The large snowflakes fell in intermittent flurries as we sat inside of Trillium listening to Natural History presentations by members of the 17th graduate cohort. I had presented the day before, and after what had admittedly been a nerve-wracking presentation, I now watched the snow gently cascade over our home, giving me a sense of excitement and comfort. I was greeted by a new friend.

I grew up in North Hollywood, California, a city nestled in the San Fernando Valley surrounded by the Transverse Ranges. Despite living so close to a mountain range that certainly receives annual snow, I didn’t get to know snow the way that I knew the far-reaching freeways of Southern California. The few interactions I had with snow in my childhood were brief and infrequent. My impressions of it did not go beyond seeing it as a magical entity found in landscapes far away from what I knew as home.

Photograph of myself romping in the snow with Foxy, Willow and Rudy in Oakhurst, California; photo by Amy Sanchez

Before moving to Washington to start the M.Ed. Graduate Program with the North Cascades Institute, I lived in Davis, California. Summers in Davis often provided heat waves where temperatures reached over 100°F and winter low temperatures averaged at about 32°F. Known as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States, largely due to how flat it is, Davis is no better a candidate for snow production than Los Angeles. Aside from an occasional notable frost, I once again found myself living in a valley that put me just out of reach from learning what life in the snow is like. So, for twenty-seven years, my interactions with snow consisted of day-long romps that ended with a two-hour drive home to a more temperate environment. Read More from “Snow: Embracing the Unknown”