You know you live in California when you can take your cross-country ski gear out for a whirl and then stop for a picnic of sushi. We were up in the mountains last week for Spring Break visiting my sister–in-law who lives in South Lake Tahoe. The weather was perfect; about 35 degrees and alternately sunny and snowy. Folks were cycling around Lake Tahoe in their shorts and we headed up to 8000 feet near Kirkwood to ski in full winter regalia; long underwear, ski pants, hats, gloves and tons of sun block. It was such a pleasant spring getaway. When I lived in France, the French always used to say how important it was to experience ‘Le Sport d’Hiver’ (winter sports) each year. Necessary, they used to say, for the constitution. Chapped, rosy cheeked and with huge appetites, my boys and I enjoyed a couple of yummy meals after a long day of skiing. Goodfellas pizza and Taqueria Jalisco were our favorite picks, recommended by my brother-in-law who was a chef in Hawaii before moving to the mountains.
One day we took a hike around Fallen Leaf Lake, a small lake just a couple miles from the center of town. My kids could throw rocks in water for hours and then the next day we stood on the edge of a stream, cut through the melting snow, at higher altitude, and they threw snowballs in the snow melt stream for a long time while I did my brisk skiing around in circles. I love the juxtaposition of seasons in California, spring in the mountains is truly glorious; melting icicles, wildflowers, snow capped mountains and awakening flora and fauna. We saw the most gigantic coyote on their block one morning digging into a neighbors garbage can, just a reminder of how wild the area truly is. Wild geese walked on the beach of Lake Tahoe; one of the most stunning scenes I have ever seen. I sent a photos to a friend in Massachusetts, she thought it looked how she imagined Alaska would look; rugged alpine peaks, clear crisp water and air.
I hiked with my sister-in law up to a vista where she had created a shrine to her daughter, my niece Maya Kailana Campanis who passed away in 2007 at the age of ten, following a long struggle with Leukemia. The shrine has weathered all four seasons. Skye, Maya’s mom brings Easter eggs, valentines, birthday cupcakes, art work and Christmas gifts to leave for her, a beautiful way to keep Maya alive in spirit and a part of daily life. Tucked into a corner is a notebook where fellow hikers can leave a note, many write about their own struggles with cancer, others the majesty of the spot. Here is a photo of part of the shrine and the view from the place we consider Maya’s resting place; not a bad view. This time a small bunny cutout with cotton stuck on as fur, made by Maya’s sister for Easter no doubt, had the tell tale signs a mouse had used the cotton for its nest; the circle of life.