A Different Kind of Winter Harvest

A Different Kind of Winter Harvest

Snow is not a normal sight in the Bay Area, which is why it’s quite common to trek up the mountains to Tahoe. The white stuff is quite fascinating to my kids, who had never seen it (or played in it) before. To me, a transplant from Pennsylvania, it was not new to me, and in fact showed me why my tiny compact car (even with chains) is not going to cut it the next¬†time we head up to the snow.

Being in that icy, quiet wonderland, I thought about what winter means to nature and the creatures that live in it. In five feet of snow, how do animal and plants survive? At the house we stayed at, while creating sled runs, we found shrubs beneath the snow, seemingly enduring the cold. And the trees, their branches weighed heavy with snow, dropped snow showers on us at random intervals, as the sun warmed them. We caught a glimpse of a bobcat, carefully stepping atop the delicate drifts.

Tahoe in the winter is a quiet, contemplative place for a gardener.

Even in that sleepy cold, we enjoyed a harvest of freshly-fallen snow, sweetened with Cherry Torani Syrup (though some friends used the traditional maple syrup instead). I highly recommend you try a Real “Snow” Cone the next time you get to visit the snow. Super detailed recipe below.

Here in the Bay Area, where nothing freezes for very long, we don’t get that kind of hibernation, and neither do our plants. There’s no killing frost, so weeds and beloved plants alike live through the winter. It is both good and bad, winter and not winter. Still, I wouldn’t want to live–or grow things–anywhere else.

Real “Snow” Cones

Freshly Fallen Snow
Flavored Syrup or Maple Syrup

Collect Snow in a bowl or mug. Drizzle your syrup of choice on top. Enjoy with a spoon.

Tahoe Survival Tips for the Casual Snow Bunny

  • If the snow has recently fallen, chain control will be in effect. In that case, rent a 4WD vehicle to save yourself the trouble of putting chains on and taking them off.¬†
  • If you do need to use chains, being long, thick plastic gloves so you don’t have to use bare hands to attached and detach the chains (winter gloves are too thick).
  • If you have a tiny car, bring grit (like kitty litter) and/or cheap mats to assist your car out of ruts.
  • Altitude sickness is very real, and will hit you hardest when you exert yourself a lot (like pushing your car) and if you get dehydrated. Drink lots of water, avoid alcohol the first few days, and take it easy until you feel like yourself again.
  • Renting winter clothes and equipment is a great way to go if you don’t hit the slopes very often. We loved the experience we had with Sports Basement–we didn’t feel rushed to return the gear, most of it was brand new, and it was VERY high quality.

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