Starting Fresh in the New Year

“I hear the swish of snow-pants and the crunch of snow under my boots. These sounds drown out the silent stillness of the air. I stop for a minute, hear falling water from a creek nearby, a raven high up in a tree. I keep going. Up a hill, the snow gets deeper, I come out of the trees in an open field where I can see Diablo Lake, mountains poking out from behind wispy clouds. A perfect way to start the new year.” – Ryan Weisberg, graduate student

“Last new year’s eve, my partner and I climbed the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains—Sandstone Peak, with an elevation of 3,111 feet. Once we reached the top, we found that we were not at all alone—not by a long shot. It appeared that a whole family reunion was underway on that peak. There were at least three generations present, laughing, eating, and joking around as we all watched the sun dip behind the Channel Islands and sink down into the shining waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. As I look back, I am reminded that areas isolated high in the alpine aren’t the only special places in the world and that the people we love can also be a big part of the magic those natural places hold for us.” – Cait McHugh, graduate student

lace-like patterns made by snow on exposed branches. Photo by the author.

“I love the new year.  For me it signifies the greatest thing ever to happen to the Pacific Northwest….it starts getting lighter out!!!  I mean really, could anything be better than this?  Well, of course some things can be better, like cookies, teddy bears, epic powder days, holding hands, long walks on the beach, smiling…  But really, if you think about it, ALL of these are typically better when it’s light out!  Except full moon ski-tours.  Those are pretty cool.  And then there are always cozy nights by the fire surrounded by friends and loved ones.  Those are pretty great too.  So, I guess I leave you at an impasse.  The New Year signifies the returning light, but also our ability to find new and exciting things to do in the ever-present darkness.  Oh, and then there’s the rain (or snow), but that’s for another day.” – Stephanie Bennett, Graduate Program Coordinator
“I can’t quite say how right it feels for mountains to be covered in snow.  The snow blends down the slopes into trees, coming closer and closer, and it feels even more right. On Saturday, as we peered out into the trees for one last breath of fresh mountain air before scattering for our winter break, Hillary spoke what I was thinking, “I’m going to miss this place.”  The snowflakes floated gently down from the sky.  Even the Learning Center seems to be exactly how it was meant to be, with a flurry of perfect flakes drifting down.  We drove carefully across the dam, pausing to look out over the lake as billions of frozen droplets turned the sky into a haze.  I’m going to miss this place.  It acts on my spirit silently—the forest, the water, the snow.  And before I know it, it feels right to come home to this place, just like it feels right for the snow to come back to the mountains.  The reason is that nature knows itself, and that natural part of me is the part that knows this is right.  It is the part that longs to be breathing the fresh snowy air and taking in the deep green forest.  This feeling unites us, and I will return here with the mission to help others know with their hearts how right it is for snow to fall on mountains.” – Lindsay Walker, graduate student

Sometimes everything seems to blend together in shades of grey and silver. Photo by the author

Hummingbird in Winter
Quick magenta flash through window glass
snowmelt drops cling to maple twigs
on the last day of the year
two Anna’s hummingbirds
wait for sunlight
by the frozen feeder.
Saul Weisberg, Executive Director

Anna’s hummingbird, showing its bright red gorgette. Photo from Google images.

“For me, New Year’s is a time of reflection. Everything slows down just a little bit, and I find the time to take deep breaths, reconnect with old friends, take up new crafts, and get outside and play. Being in the mountains and watching the snow get closer and closer to our elevation of 1200 feet has slowed time down even more. The snow makes everything so quiet. Not eerie quiet, not boring quiet, but peaceful, productive, perfect quiet. I find that every year, by the time the year rolls around to this season, i am craving the quiet, and yearning for that time to reflect. This winter, living in the shadows of snow-covered Colonial and Pyramid Peaks, I hope to fully take advantage of that quiet I’ve been granted.” – Liza Dadiomov, graduate student

 Leading photo: Snow-covered Pyramid Peak on a sunny winter day. Photo by the author.


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