Monday, May 14, 2007

Back to the O.C...

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This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
~ George Bernard Shaw

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(if you've ever enjoyed any time at Opal Creek... thank the folks in that picture. They are the ones who were there at the right time, following up on a duty laid before us decades ago. Thats George Atiyeh at the upper right. George... thanks, what a wonderful legacy you have left the generations still to come. I'm honored to have shared some time helping out...)

One of the great joys of living at Opal Creek was in the late fall when the snow comes. Usually the first snow in camp falls by Halloween. The first real snow will hit around Thanksgiving. There is nothing like having the wood stove lit and a heavy snow starting to fall outside. It gets real quiet and all movement ceases. A call comes over the radio thats sounds like a factory horn sounding... its Pablo marking the shut down of the day's labor. Coffee is made and folks settle down for a day in their cabins, watching it snow. Better than any TV show, that first significant snow means for a few days there will be no visitors. The trees begin to droop as the snow accumulates on branches. The ground becomes a white blanket where all that is green becomes white. The road... white. The cabin roofs... white. And then the snow reallly starts. Big flakes falling so thick the view is down to less than a few yards.

Smoke billows from chimneys, life is good, the dogs are quiet.

(The dogs... thats Turk on the top left and Lance bottom right.)

Snow is not a bother to them. Winter is their time. The raccoons are easy to track. Sleep can be had inside where its dry and warm. The people have stocked a full winter supply of dog food... visitors are usually friends, rarely strangers.

The record snow at Opal Creek was over 20 feet. It buried the cabins. I'll have to check with George but I think that snow was in '64 or '65. The only person in camp that winter was Indian Billy. Billy (and that winter) is one of the legends among the Opal Creek miners. The snow was so deep tunnels had to be dug from the doors for Billy to get in and out of the cabins.

20' of snow is up the peak of the cabin roofs.

Greg Burke took me and a few others ski camping in the Sierras in the winter of '83 - '84 down in California, somewhere in Sequoia Nat'l Forest. We skied over a 25' base... no obstacles on the ground because... well... the ground was waaay down there. A truly amazing and wonderful trip.

The winter Robin was a baby at Jawbone was a fair snow year, enough snow to get some good skiing in. I would strap her on in a soft child pack, facing front. I would wear an oversized coat and zip it up to her face and off we would go. I can only imagine an infant's perception of that activity...

Now that its spring and the days once again starting to get into the '70s, I feel safe talking about winter. Funny how those things work... like when you talk to a friend or a relative and you say"oh yeh, I haven't seen ol' whats-'is-name for years." Sure enough you can count on an encounter. Or when you say "I haven't had a ticket in 35 years" and the next day you get pulled over... life, the universe, has a strange sense of humor (and have no doubt it has a sense of humor...) and has no mercy when it comes to timing.

Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth.
~ Victor Borge
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