Town Square

Diablo Views: Snow brings out our inner photographers

Original post made by Dolores Ciardelli, editor of Danville Express, on Dec 10, 2009

What!?! I exclaimed when opening my Danville Express on Tuesday morning and scanning to the right to see the temperature. It was 27 flippin' degrees! And this was at 8 a.m.! No wonder our heater had come on during the night, even though we keep it at the lowest setting. At least the day's prediction was a high of 47 degrees - oh, goody - and the forecast was clear skies, which meant that with any luck I could sit in the sunny part of a front room in the late morning.

I crunched out over the grass in the back yard to check out the fountain. Frozen. Even hours later a sad little scrub jay was fruitlessly pecking at the ice hoping to find water to quench his thirst. OK, perhaps I’m reading into that. Maybe he was happy to have a bowl of ice on which to work out his aggressions. But he certainly was peck, peck, pecking away.

The day before, Monday, we awoke to a blanket of snow over the house and yard and it was cold, but not this cold. The snow was fun. I grabbed my camera to go out and take a photo of our home, and neighbors were out with their cameras, too. Next I bundled up to take photos in Alamo and Danville for the Danville Express and to check out San Ramon for the San Ramon Express. Everywhere in our neighborhood, kids were playing in the snow before heading off to school.

That's when the reality hit me of the area’s micro-climates. In southern Danville I found nary a snowflake, ditto San Ramon, including Dougherty Valley. Of course by the time I got there, after stopping to take photos at Hap Magee Ranch Park, it could have melted. But later phone calls proved this was not the case. Let's move to San Ramon fast, I told my husband: It's warmer there.

My son in Germany heard about our snow and immediately IM'd to note it was colder in Danville than in Berlin. Had he seen it on No, a friend on Facebook mentioned it was snowing here. But he soon checked out DanvilleExpress to enjoy a snow-covered Mount D.

Photographer Chris Scott who grew up in Danville tells me there hasn't been this much snow around in 41 years - he remembers it as a teenager. Although he had been out of town, he hurried back to take snow photos of Mount Diablo to add to his collection. Any local photog works his/her lenses has a collection of our landmark in every season.

Beverly Lane, curator of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, recalled that in February 1976, the snowfall in the valley was even heavier than this week. She recalled the principal at John Baldwin Elementary just sending all the kids home, and that her sons slid down the hill in back of their house on cardboard boxes since no sleds were around. That time, she reported, it snowed during the day, too, not just in the evening.

Speaking of history, the photos that people took of their houses during snowfalls throughout the last century in California have proven helpful to historians. In years past, as now, this was often the only time people thought to photograph their homes. I wish we'd taken a picture of our house when we first moved here in 1981. We have a row of eucalyptus trees in back of our house and I'd like to see how much they've grown. Of course we took plenty of snapshots inside and outside, most including family members. We thought to document our kids' growth but not that of the trees!

But now I have plenty of photos of our house in the great snowfall of 2009. And I'm sure I'll have a record PG&E bill to document the cold snap.


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Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Dear Dolores,

Thank you.

I applaud your writing and appreciate the return of Diablo Views (Diablo Vista if you are in my neighborhoods). But this writing is delightful quite like a story book.

You again today made my day,


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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:52 am


The snow was beautiful and I would love to see other's photo's. Is there a way, folks can post their best Mt Diablo photo for all to enjoy here online. Or is that too risky an invitiation for folks to misbehave?