After years of California drought, playing in the snow is a delight

Savannah Mayorga, 5, was born in a dry year.

"We didn't know then how dry it was, that it was the beginning of the drought," said her father, Robert Mayorga.

This week she sat on a log, a padded pink pumpkin in a snowsuit her parents bought her years ago but that had never been worn because there wasn't snow.

The clouds hung low and heavy, the sky and hills both white. Dozens of families crunched, slipped and skidded across snow. Their polka-dotted sweaters, pompom hats and crayon-colored ski jackets reflected in the icy lake.

Children slid down every bump and rise on inexpensive plastic discs or sleds. It seemed to start off with one child per sled, but as piles of broken sled-shards grew higher, the number of children per sled increased. A dog scratched at the snow and came up with an old carrot that surely had been a snowman's nose.

The crowd that gets new ski boots and snowboards for Christmas was at higher-elevation resorts. These were locals from Fresno and Dinuba, Sanger and Selma, who drove up for the day and frolicked within sight of the parking lot. These were people whose livelihoods most depend on the Sierra snowpack.

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