Last Friday night I packed into a car with a couple of friends at 9:30 p.m.

Destination: Big Bear Lake, CA.

Why did I go to Big Bear?

My husband was leading a winter retreat for the students from our church. I met him up there just before midnight.

Maybe it’s just me, but the sight of a ski resort with lush pine trees and bright, fresh snow on a California mountain relaxes my muscles and medicates my body like a hypnotic drug. Especially when lit up at sunset.

I  needed this weekend.

On Saturday morning I nuked some oatmeal and dressed it with a dollop of peanut butter and Strawberry Smuckers. It felt like an appropriate breakfast to eat in a place called “Big Bear.” In a cabin with bear – faced toilet paper holders.

After lazing around for a couple of hours with my current obsession…

I decided to go for a “run” while the students had free time. I kind of forgot about that whole high altitude thing. And that mountains are uphill or downhill. No flatness. Oh my sweet Lord…us runners are a bit mad.

Five minutes in and I felt like I’d just smoked three packs of cigarettes. My lungs swore the kind of profanities you’d expect from Kanye West, not the insides of a brown-eyed damsel like myself.

Those things might be lies. Because…

Lie#1 – I’m no damsel.

Lie#2 – it wasn’t that bad. Mostly because I came back to a warm cabin with a fire and hot coffee.

Being in the mountains sedates me like a massage or a glass of red wine. It’s in the air and the icicles and the pine tree needles dusted with snow.

It’s like a drug to me. And you know what pairs best with drugs?

Corn Pop’s, of course.

Corn Pops mixed with yogurt, that is. Don’t you dare judge me unless you have tried it and can tell me it sucks. Some girls like granola or berries and almonds in their yogurt. Good for them.

Sometimes you just need Corn Pops.

And hot coffee on a cabin porch that overlooks ski lifts and mountaintops. With a copy of “The Grizzly Weekender.”

That’s a newspaper I picked up at a Starbucks that morning.

I slipped on my fuzzy striped socks and lounged in the cold with “RunnersWorld” and a big orange blanket.

I am my 91 yr. old grandma. I wear blankets like bathrobes.

I’ve got a crossword puzzle and prunes and binoculars hidden beneath that blanket. The binoculars are for bird watching.

See… it’s grandma.

I swear on my secret stash of Reeses peanut butter cups that I’m kidding.

All I really needed was this…

I read an article in this issue of Runners World about a runner who fought through epilepsy. In the article she was quoted as saying “running in the mountains is my medicine.”

Nothing has ever captured my love of being in the mountains as perfectly as this.

Later in the evening I prepared two lasagna’s for the students dinner. Sorry Grandpa up in heaven, they were made with meat sauce so I ate something else.

We went out and played in the snow like toddlers. We ate gooey home made brownies after dinner as the sun set.

This picture was taken outside of a grocery store where I had to grab last minute garlic bread for the lasagna. Every Italian girl knows not to serve a lasagna without garlic bread.

I got to thinkin’ and…I have a lot of ‘drugs’.

Books. Running. Copper the dog.

Chocolate Balls wrapped up like little presents.

And peanut butter. Of course.

As we drove home after a short weekend, I thought about the article I read in ‘Runners World.’

The woman in the article was right about the ‘medicine’ of the mountains. I left softened, at ease, and buzzed like a businessman walking back to his office after a lunch hour cocktail.

Maybe it was the Corn Pops and pine trees and Grandma blanket that made me so. Maybe it was just the pine trees and snow.

Whatever it was, it was a good medicine. An organic drug.

Which is the best ‘high’ I’ve ever felt.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir