This last weekend’s retreat to Idyllwild became extra special with the advent of April snow. I started out from Fallbrook at two o’clock, following my GPS through our granite-studded hills and golden-flowered valleys. As I drove through the Anza plateau in the beautiful afternoon sunshine, I started seeing glimpses of my destination, which the forecasters indicated would be snowy.
Listening to my audiobook, occasionally holding up my camera to take photos through the windows (thank goodness for digital photos! All those random shots I can delete instead of pay to print and then throw out!) I reached the turn-off for Idyllwild and tall pines. I passed red gambrel barns, peaceful horse ranches, and then the first downy flakes started swirling around. I gave out a hoot to myself. Although I was born in New Jersey, my dear mother told my dear father that she never wanted to shovel snow again in her life, and they moved our family of five children West when I was five. I’ve visited snow a handful of times at Palomar when growing up, or with my children. Up until I drove through snow and ice in Ashland a couple of weekends ago on my trip to Oregon, I had little experience with it. Or did my Prius. On approaching town there was snow on the sides of the road, and it was swirling in large flakes.
Traffic wisely crept along the icy road. Then suddenly, I was there.
I’d only been to Idyllwild once with my parents, some forty-some years ago. The only thing I remember was a large totem in the main square. I was startled to see it again as I arrived. It brought back good memories of my parents.
The snow had turned into round pellets, like those Styrafoam balls in Christmas scenes. I sat in my car outside the lodge for a few minutes absorbing the sight.
Oh, and it was cold. My spoiled San Diego self had to make some adjustments. Over the weekend I ended up wearing all the clothes I brought, mostly at the same time in various combinations starting with thermals. I thought I had mittens in my car but I didn’t, and I shouldn’t have had my haircut the day before, or thought to have brought a knit cap. But it was all okay. The lodge was comfortable, our hostesses treated us like royalty, I shared a room with a wonderful woman and we had a wall between us for privacy. The rooms were themed, and mine was, appropriately, The Library, and was decorated in old books and red plaid, which I love. It was perfect.
After checking in and seeing my delightful room, I took my camera out onto the street and walked a circle around to town and back. I had to keep the camera nestled under my jacket to keep it from freezing. I wrapped my blue knit scarf that I bought when Miranda and I were freezing in the Orkney Islands when touring Pictish ruins around my head and neck like a babushka. I’m mature enough to sacrifice looks for warmth. ( At least, most of the time. I guess it depends on who is looking. Hmm, I’m still a girl at heart after all! ) The landscape was beautiful, like a picture postcard sprayed with glitter.
The silence was so profound I could hear the snow fall. There was wildlife looking for food for their young. A mother Gray Squirrel was eating at a squirrel feeder. The bare spots on her tummy show that she is nursing young. I also saw Steller jays, robins, pine siskins, a flicker, crows, quail, goldfinches and acorn woodpeckers. There were bunny tracks in the snow.That evening we communed by the fire in the lodge after a great meal of vegetarian vegetable soup and fresh bread. I enjoyed my cup of cocoa with peppermint Schnapps, but the caffeine made me sleep only three hours. I wasn’t alone with being tired; several other women had little or no sleep either. Saturday the sun was out and the snow began to melt, causing the streets to turn into running water.
W e took a walk in the morning, ate macadamia nut pancakes, performed Tai-Chi, Zumba, aerobics, work at a barre, more walking, yoga and Pilates, then another walk into town for dinner. During dinner, it began to snow again, big, slushy wet snow that we hadn’t expected.It was dark when we finished eating, and we visited a couple of shops that stayed open for our group, then ventured through the very wet snowfall back to the lodge and warmth. It snowed all night again, to make our last morning one of magical landscapes. It was Sunday morning, the sky was blue with soft clouds, the quiet was profound and the snow sparkled as if someone had tossed around slivers of diamonds.
A group of us took a silent walk through the snow and trees, not speaking, but pausing to perform simple yoga breathing and awakening stretches, welcoming the peace and freshness into ourselves and sending our thanks for the moment out to the universe.
This exercise enervated me more than any other during the weekend; I only regret that not all of the women shared it with us. (After little sleep on the first night and a series of vigorous workouts through the day, along with all the energy spent shivering, several slept in.) One of the phenomenas of the morning was the rising sun catchingthe snow as it melted from the trees, highlighting the drops as if it were handfuls of glitter. I took many photos of it, trying to capture the spectacular sight, but none of them do it justice. If you look carefully at the photo, you can kind of see what I’m talking about.
After our wonderful breakfast (pecan maple pancakes!) we headed off down the mountain in glorious weather. I took a last explore through the town, finding a shop that made its own candles, some scented Idyllwild Cabin, and Campfire Smoke, and Citrus Champagne… and they really smelled like their names! I bought some Christmas gifts (beat the crowd! It was snowy outside after all!) and drove out of the snow to home.
I’m posting more photos on my Facebook page if anyone is interested. The Spring Retreat turned out to be a Winter Wonderland, but I’m sure that it won’t throw the Easter Bunny off at all.