Saturday, January 26, 2013

Family Totems IV (Winter Scenes)

With the temperature hovering just above freezing today, we are having a slight thaw. But the fog and dirty air is still thick. Anonymous D and family have fled to Disneyland. There is good news on the horizon that my statistician son just landed a great job with the Disney Corporation in Southern California and we'll be able to visit more often in a warmer climate.

Stuck here for now, I'm trying to convince myself that winter can be beautiful, at least in a picture, I collected up a few more pieces of my dad's artwork. These are Christmas/note card renditions of paintings I don't have access to at present. I will try to remember to take my camera to where more pictures hang at my parents' house and at the homes of many other relatives and friends:

Sleigh Ride © 1949, Larry K. Vaughn
Perhaps a Currier & Ives inspired Christmas scene when my dad was only a teen. His mom was always proud of his artwork.

Cora is up by Pinedale, Wyoming, where the high plains meet the Wind Rivers
© 1976, Larry K. Vaughn
Wyoming is usually not the place to go for winter. Unless maybe it's Jackson for skiing or Yellowstone for tours in huge snow machines (or small ones, with all the proper permits and fees, of course). This year, I am hearing reports that it has been warmer in places like Rock Springs, and certainly with cleaner air up there than down in the Salt Lake Valley.

But I will never forget the miserable winter of my senior year. We lived right across the street from the high school. I would take a shower and wash my hair every morning. And being a guy, I didn't worry too much about hair drying or styling. Just a quick comb through and I would rush across the street before the bell and my hair would freeze on the way. If I sucked in air through my nostrils, they would freeze closed. Rock Springs, coal-mining town that it was, spread coal dust on the roads rather than the salt we use down here. With the Wyoming wind on the snow, the whole town would turn gray. There are many beautiful places in Wyoming, like the whole northern two-thirds including Cora, but you have to head a few miles north of I-80 to find that part of the state. Well, the north slope of the Uintahs and Flaming Gorge aren't so bad. But Rock Springs, Rawlins, Cheyenne, etc. will never win a beauty contest.

Here's a beautiful one from the next county north of us:

Early Snow, Weber County, Utah © Larry K. Vaughn
My dad was born in Weber County, in Ogden. So this one has a lot of meaning to him as well as the rest of us. Note there are still leaves on the Mormon Poplars (see, Wallace Stegner), hence the title.

© 1984, Larry K. Vaughn
Now this looks like a place to spend a winter. I'm sure there are some cold breezes off the austere Pacific and probably days of fog. Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever spent was one July in San Francisco, just up the coast. While very fond of San Francisco (even in winter), Monterrey is one place I've never visited. It's on my list.

The next is a warmer place in Utah we've should be making better plans to visit in the winter:

Snow Canyon - St .George, Utah, © Larry K. Vaughn
Lorenzo Snow, not by my Dad
Snow Canyon is one of those misleading names because it very rarely snows there. It was named for the Snow Family of prominent Utah pioneers, principally Lorenzo Snow who was President of the LDS Church from 1898-1901. I still have family down there in St. George, along with buried ancestors who pioneered there. (Oh! That reminds me to get a pic of my Dad's watercolor of Grafton! - one of his best.)

And saving the best of this lot until last, I give you the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art on Christmas Eve, 1993:

Afternoon, The Day Before Christmas, Santa Fe
© 1994, Larry K. Vaughn
My dad had gone out with me to do some late Christmas Eve shopping on the Plaza. The locals from the Pueblos and the Navajo Nation are there to sale beautiful jewelry and other artwork. We also had to pick up a glider-rocker at a store down Cerrillos Road because my wife was "heavy with child" and my son now at BYU with papers in for a mission call was born that next January.

There is nothing more magical than Christmas in Santa Fe. Snow is always possible, but not that common. In sharp contrast to the coal dust of Rock Springs, they spread crushed, red, volcanic stone on the roads. The streets of Santa Fe then look like cinnamon toast! That evening, we went up Canyon Road where the farolitos are lit along all the walls and the luminarias light and warm the street corners as neighbors share posole and sing carols. (Farolitos are called luminarias in Albuquerque and in Santa Fe the luminarias are little fires lit in the street. I'll just have you look up posole, but it is good!)

So Winter can be beautiful. Now if we can only get out of the poisonous fog here.

Earlier collections are at Family Totems I, IIIII, and a later at V.

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