“Beauty is a form of genius – is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.” – Oscar Wilde, late 19th Century playwright
Happy New Year! No rain on the Rose Parade this year…nothing but pure Southern California sunshine and blue skies as temperatures climbed into the 80s. In 1964 it reached 85. I wouldn’t be surprised if moving companies become booked solid for the upcoming months.
Our climate is considered almost perfect, especially to those living in other parts of the country where winters are snowy and temperatures are freezing. This year as tourists flocked to Pasadena and gathered on Colorado Boulevard to watch the parade, our family headed east to experience some traditional winter-like weather.
A week in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Utah is just enough time to cut a Christmas tree on BLM land (with a permit) and absorb the beauty of a winter in the wilderness. This year our journey was pushed into the New Year, due to our kids’ college and teaching schedules. A little too late for a tree, but I did notice a full moon was expected on Jan. 9. The beauty of moonlight on a snowy landscape “needs no explanation” as I think Oscar Wilde would have agreed.
After traveling 454 miles over four states at an elevation of almost 9,000 feet, we found winter.
In other years, the snow accumulation was much heavier and sometimes falling during our trip. But nevertheless the ground was covered and the temperatures dropped into the teens. With hot chocolate in hand we braved the elements to view the waxing moon and the Milky Way in the clear Utah sky. For millennia, humans have been fascinated by the night sky, especially full moons.
Native Americans used its movement to track passing months and years to set schedules for hunting, planting and harvesting. Names were assigned to the full moons based on the behavior of animals, plants or weather during that month. January was known as the Wolf Moon.
During the harsh midwinter, packs of hungry wolves would move in closer to villages, drawn by the smell of food and leftover scraps. Perhaps the beginning of canine domestication going on here? Unfortunately, there were no wolves to be seen on our trip, though plenty of deer, a red fox and a herd of American bison. I hope an almost full moon, a Golden Retriever (Abby) and light snow meet the requirements for January’s full moon name.
In reflection, it was exciting to visit a more traditional type winter, but I really do prefer our “weather in the foothills.” As we arrived home, the temperatures were in the low 70s.
Over the weekend and into next week a gradual cooling is predicted. By Wednesday, daytime will be in the 60s and nighttime in the low 40s.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at