Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Sunshine State of Mind

 

I’m from California, where L.A. borders the O.C. and where abbreviating everything is second nature. Winter consists of setting the car’s ventilation from max AC to regular and having a long-sleeved shirt on standby if you have to get up early. The big concern is the annual brush fires and whatever fresh torments the legislature is planning.

So here we are in Utah. I’m ringing in the roaring twenties in a home-knit cap and scarf, with a closet filled with flannel shirts and long pants. That quilt we got for a wedding present? Finally, something we can use and appreciate. Same with the snow shovel our realtor gave us when we closed on the house… in August. The handle was too warm to touch if left outside. Not a problem now.

My wife is a proud Coloradan. California was a trial for her; she likes all four seasons, not endless summers. She likes mountains with snow on them. She also likes knitting. She considers her fifteen years in California a temporary situation she’s glad to have survived and is back in her Happy Place.

We had white holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. I confess holiday lights look good in the snow. On Thanksgiving, we took some relatives down to a drive-through outdoor light show that the first big storm of the season only enhanced. It even brought a herd of deer for added authenticity.

I thought I might, but really? I can’t complain. Utah winters are generally mild. Temperatures in the twenties and thirties during the day, mostly. On the uncommon days when we drove to work in the snow, all but a couple of them ended with dry roads and clear skies. Most of the white stuff lands on the mountains, keeping things pretty but relatively commuter-safe. My wife’s only complaint is that when the roads are dry, I drive as I did in CA: as an honorary pace car in the Grand Prix. Or maybe Maverick in Top Gun. It depends on how tightly she’s gripping the safety rail. The snow and the road salts are rough on the car, but what made little sense to me in summer has been a winter godsend: unlimited car wash passes. The local Wiggy Wash includes a free light show with each stage in the scrub, making it a cheap date night.

Some people love winter. My YouTube feed has been filling with folks who love camping in extreme cold, stoking wood-burning stoves in canvas tents. I’m more like my parents: stick with a sturdy cabin or fully-connected RV. I enjoy watching the snow falling when I’m indoors, dry and warm by a roaring fire. Utah has been nicely accommodating. Our current home doesn’t have a fireplace. We may get one of those electric varieties, but we’re likely to move in a few years. A fireplace and/or wood-burning stove are high on the wish list.

I miss the beach on occasion. I miss PCH. I miss Solvang and Catalina. California is a huge part of the life I’ve led, as a child and adult. There are family and friends we miss. And there are times I miss running the AC in January.

But actual winter has left me with less discontent than I feared. It’s been a net plus. Just as I found ways to cool off in summer while still enjoying the summer, winter offers fire and hot cocoa and Slankets (TM) and other remedies for the chill. Not an escape, but an accommodation.

Pass the cocoa.

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There are 21 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Jim Wright: Pass the cocoa.

    Indeed. That’s a fine idea.

    • #1
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:04 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. RightAngles Member

    I’m the opposite, having grown up in the Midwest, where a blizzard in April wasn’t unheard of, and coming to Texas. I do miss the snow at Christmas, but it’s nice not to have it at Easter.

    • #2
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:14 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Jim Wright Coolidge
    Jim Wright

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m the opposite, having grown up in the Midwest, where a blizzard in April wasn’t unheard of, and coming to Texas. I do miss the snow at Christmas, but it’s nice not to have it at Easter.

    Easter seems a bit late for a blizzard. Before our move we’d travel to Colorado or Utah for Christmas so we could have at least one white holiday a year. One of the things I promised her when she married me.

    • #3
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:20 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jim Wright (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m the opposite, having grown up in the Midwest, where a blizzard in April wasn’t unheard of, and coming to Texas. I do miss the snow at Christmas, but it’s nice not to have it at Easter.

    Easter seems a bit late for a blizzard. Before our move we’d travel to Colorado or Utah for Christmas so we could have at least one white holiday a year. One of the things I promised her when she married me.

    Of course, the blizzards are better in Texas. 

    • #4
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:38 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Sweezle Member

    I was born and raised in CA and still visit friends and family several times a year. But I don’t miss the traffic, the pollution, the change in politics, crime or the taxes. CA ceased to interest me as a permanent home thirty years ago. Welcome to Utah! 

    • #5
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:41 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    I spent 60 years in California and my wife is third generation. I loved the ocean and spent many years sailing and had a mooring at Catalina for years. It is sad to see it go but it left before we did. I took some friends from England to see it about 15 years ago. We skipped LA and went up the San Joaquin Valley to show the farming and the huge amount of agriculture that was the real wealth of California before it was all gone. We went to Yosemite where they had a chance to see a bear and have dinner in the magnificent dining room of the Ahwanee Hotel. I had arranged a cabin for them and they walked with some trepidation, worried about bears, to their cabin. We spent a day in San Francisco at St Francis Yacht Club for lunch, then drove to Sonoma, where I could show them the first Capital of California.

    We went to Jack London Square and a tavern that survived the 1906 earthquake, then to his home near Sonoma and hiked down to his home, Wolf Lair, that he never was able to live in. They reciprocated as they usually did in a trip in 2015 to Waterloo on the 200th anniversary. We will no longer live in California, but we go there several times a year to visit children and grandchildren. Most have plans to leave. It is so sad.

    • #6
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:47 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. RightAngles Member

    Jim Wright (View Comment):

    Easter seems a bit late for a blizzard.

    We lived in Michigan for 6 years, and every year I planted crocuses, and I never once saw them because when they bloomed, there was still 2 feet of snow on top of them.

    • #7
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:11 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I loved Colorado–the winters sound similar to Utah. Watching the snow fall quietly. Lighting a fire in the fireplace (it was gas but warm is warm). Our last home there in Parker looked out on the front range. I told my husband that he would get tired of the view and not even notice it was there.

    That never happened.

    But it’s nice here in FL, too. I just pretend that it’s winter. Thanks for a lovely post, Jim.

    • #8
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:14 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    A fire on the beach, if you can get away with it now, has a different character than a fire in the fireplace, or in a fire pit warding off the high desert chill.

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the January 2020 Group Writing Theme: Winter of Our Discontent. Share your tale of winter, discontent, content, or maybe tell us a tale of someone done wrong by an author or film maker. There are plenty of dates still available. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #9
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:26 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Bob Thompson Member

    I’m in a somewhat opposite situation. I spent most of 13 years in Utah, at the foot of the Wasatch Range in Utah County, and loved my time there. Two years ago my wife and I sold our residence in Utah and moved to Phoenix. As an octogenarian I’m good here through the winter but I like to get back to Utah in the summer. Fortunately, I have my daughter with her husband and three adult grandchildren there.

    Guess who bought my house. A family leaving California.

    I hope you enjoy your time in Utah,

    • #10
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:36 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I’m the opposite, having grown up in the Midwest, where a blizzard in April wasn’t unheard of, and coming to Texas. I do miss the snow at Christmas, but it’s nice not to have it at Easter.

    Whiner.

    • #11
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:06 PM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jim Wright: I miss PCH.

    Too many knuckleheads on it to actually miss PCH.

    • #12
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:08 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Annefy Member

    What part of Utah? My brother recently relocated (from Cali) to the St George area. We visit often and love it. 

    • #13
    • January 20, 2020, at 8:33 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Jim Wright Coolidge
    Jim Wright

    Annefy (View Comment):

    What part of Utah? My brother recently relocated (from Cali) to the St George area. We visit often and love it.

    We’re in Utah County, in Orem. St. George is a nice place to visit!

    • #14
    • January 20, 2020, at 9:13 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. thelonious Member

    Jim Wright (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    What part of Utah? My brother recently relocated (from Cali) to the St George area. We visit often and love it.

    We’re in Utah County, in Orem. St. George is a nice place to visit!

    St. George is always about 10 degrees warmer so it’s a great place to visit in the winter.

    • #15
    • January 21, 2020, at 12:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Just wait a few years, that feeling will wear off eventually.

    • #16
    • January 21, 2020, at 1:46 AM PST
    • Like
  17. I Walton Member

    Utah has the best snow for skiing in the world. You must ski.

    • #17
    • January 21, 2020, at 4:12 AM PST
    • Like
  18. Annefy Member

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Jim Wright (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    What part of Utah? My brother recently relocated (from Cali) to the St George area. We visit often and love it.

    We’re in Utah County, in Orem. St. George is a nice place to visit!

    St. George is always about 10 degrees warmer so it’s a great place to visit in the winter.

    We are usually there to bring in the New Year. There’s something about a bunch of crazy Scots drinking too much and getting crazy in UT that we can’t resist.

    I think we’ve inspired the locals – there’s now a brewery in Colorado City that we frequent after hiking

    His house borders on BLM land so it’s a perfect place to target shoot and practice flying my drone.

    • #18
    • January 21, 2020, at 9:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  19. Full Size Tabby Member

    Jim Wright: The snow and the road salts are rough on the car, but what made little sense to me in summer has been a winter godsend: unlimited car wash passes. The local Wiggy Wash includes a free light show with each stage in the scrub, making it a cheap date night.

    When we lived near Rochester NY, I made extensive use of the unlimited car wash package at the Delta Sonic, which also included a light show at each stage. But Mrs. Tabby didn’t particularly like riding through the wash tunnel (the automated cloth strips that enveloped the car were a bit too all enclosing for her comfort), so the car wash light show was rarely part of our date nights. 

    We had moved there from Costa Mesa (Orange County) CA. I had always been meticulous about the appearance of my car, so getting used to having it covered in road salt and dirt was a major adjustment for me. And I had to learn to dry off the door jambs after going through the car wash on the colder days so the doors didn’t freeze shut. 

    • #19
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:37 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Full Size Tabby Member

    Jim Wright: Our current home doesn’t have a fireplace. We may get one of those electric varieties, but we’re likely to move in a few years. A fireplace and/or wood-burning stove are high on the wish list.

    One of our favorite wintertime features of the house we bought near Rochester NY when we moved there from Costa Mesa CA was the gas fireplaces, with remote control! When feeling a bit chilly sitting on the couch, just push the button, and poof! Instant fire. 

    It was nice finally to have an excuse to wear sweaters. Mrs. Tabby and I both like sweaters, but there wass rarely justification for wearing one in coastal Orange County CA, where we had both lived since middle school. But in the Rochester area, there is plenty of reason to wear sweaters!

    Factors other than weather prompted us to move from the Rochester NY area to north Texas about 18 months ago. Though Mrs. Tabby said she would have liked the Rochester winters better if they were about a month shorter than the 5 – 6 months they usually lasted. 

    • #20
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:48 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Jim Wright Coolidge
    Jim Wright

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Jim Wright: Our current home doesn’t have a fireplace. We may get one of those electric varieties, but we’re likely to move in a few years. A fireplace and/or wood-burning stove are high on the wish list.

    One of our favorite wintertime features of the house we bought near Rochester NY when we moved there from Costa Mesa CA was the gas fireplaces, with remote control! When feeling a bit chilly sitting on the couch, just push the button, and poof! Instant fire.

    It was nice finally to have an excuse to wear sweaters. Mrs. Tabby and I both like sweaters, but there was rarely justification for wearing one in coastal Orange County CA, where we had both lived since middle school. But in the Rochester area, there is plenty of reason to wear sweaters!

    Factors other than weather prompted us to move from the Rochester NY area to north Texas about 18 months ago. Though Mrs. Tabby said she would have liked the Rochester winters better if they were about a month shorter than the 5 – 6 months they usually lasted.

    My mother insisted on wearing parkas if Long Beach dipped under 65 degrees, but I know what you mean; sweaters weren’t a big part of my SoCal wardrobe. I’ve heard good things about Rochester, though my cousin who lived in the area wasn’t a big fan of the winters. (He was a missionary so he was outside walking for much of it.0

    A remote control fireplace sounds lovely! I wonder if any of them are smart home compatible.

    • #21
    • January 21, 2020, at 11:09 AM PST
    • Like