Snow has returned to the Tehachapi Mountains, and local residents (most of 'em, anyway) have been rejoicing. Local school kids have had three snow closure days recently, and there may be more to come with more snow in the forecast.
I couldn't be happier about the weather. Not gonna lie. I love snow! I've been looking forward to Tehachapi snowstorms for more than 50 years now, and they make me as happy as ever. When I look outside and see the landscape transformed, every tree and shrub frocked with snow, it makes me smile.
That is not to say that snow doesn't bring challenges. I grew up feeding animals in all kinds of weather, and I still do every day, and snow means that animals can't really graze and have to be fed more, and it makes chores more difficult. So what. Snow is worth the inconveniences it brings.
Snow is a slow-release form of moisture that means more infiltration into the soil and less runoff. Snow is much better than rain at recharging springs and creeks, because water can still be being produced many days after the last storm.
Conifers in our mountains do better with more snow. Most of these species are from older, colder time periods in Earth's history, and they have moved up into the mountains to live in the cooler conditions that they prefer.
There are times when you can hike on north-facing slopes in the Tehachapi Mountains weeks after the last snowstorm, and on the shady side of Jeffrey Pines or White Firs there are still patches of snow remaining, like small white quilts or comforters provided by Mother Nature for the benefit of her evergreen children. . .
Snow is also a great insulator against cold temperatures — the coldest nights are the clear ones with high, dry winds. Snowy times are usually warmer, and small winter-active creatures prefer to scurry around when there is snow cover than when it is subfreezing and bare.
As long as I'm singing the praises of snow, I might as well add that snow seems to clear the sky even better than rain. I assume that's because of the greater surface area of snowflakes compared to raindrops, but on the first clear morning after a snowstorm, the air in the Tehachapi Mountains is its very cleanest. Mark my words, I've been observing and enjoying this for a long time: the air on a sunny day immediately after a snowstorm is dazzlingly clear and clean. A photographer's dream. Or for anyone who likes to breathe.
Snow is also helpful in revealing the activities of animals. Once it has fallen, snow isn't good at keeping secrets. It's fun to go out after a snowstorm and see the tracks of rabbits, birds, bobcats and other wildlife as their footsteps are temporarily preserved in snow.
I know that snow brings with it an increased risk of vehicle accidents, as well as injuries due to falls, and I don't wish that on anyone. But I've always looked forward to Tehachapi snowstorms, and I always will.
I liked snow back when we used to get a lot more of it, and as it has gotten rare in recent years, with predictions for even less in the decades to come, I appreciate it more than ever.
Welcome back, snow. We miss you.
Have a good week ...
Jon Hammond has written for Tehachapi News for more than 30 years. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.