Romancing The Snow
I’ve written thousands of words about snow. We have a relationship so entangled now with memory and romance and time and youth that it’s impossible for me to think of it as anything except magic.
I’d been exposed to snow for a total of maybe 30 minutes total before I moved to one of the snowiest places on the planet, Flagstaff, Arizona, for college. I remember my roommate, my best friend from high school and junior high, waking me up one January morning so I could see snow falling for the first time in my life.
My friend died 20 years ago. One more tag, then, to add to my personal snow globe, another memory. I’ve got so many.
Most of the romance comes from the winter I spent outside of town, in an A-frame cabin with my wife (-to-be) and a roommate. It was six miles from the city and the nearest services, really, so there was the sense that we hid there all winter, the two of us, as we prepared ourselves for the rest of our lives.
And it snowed a lot that winter, and that far out it just piled up, feet of snow. There’s a picture around here somewhere of me standing in the front yard of that place, snow up to the top of my thighs.
But a lot of it is just a kid who grew up in southern California and central Arizona. Snow wasn’t part of that childhood, and it’s never stopped feeling special. Outside of my years in Flagstaff, I’ve never lived anywhere where it routinely snowed. It’s always special.
Also annoying, and inconvenient, and dangerous. Sometimes. We get a lot of ideal snows up here, some fun watching the flakes collect on the ground, then a day goes by and it melts. The massive ones are much rarer and much more complicated.
Because we have a ton of hills. I think people sometimes don’t think about Seattle in that sense, as they might San Francisco, but they should. Few of us in this region have the luxury of driving more than a couple of blocks without facing a hill that might be impossible right now. The closest one to me is my driveway, which climbs 100 feet or so (in elevation) from the street to my doorway, but it’s silly to look at it that way. I’m in the middle of hill country, in a sense. I can’t get anywhere on the flat.
So that’s where we’re at currently. I have no idea how much snow we have out there. From my perspective yesterday, this had a quiet start, more like the snows I remember from Flagstaff, just slowly shushing the region, covering it with a blanket and tucking it in. Enough busyness for the moment. You’re not going anywhere, Mister.
It sounds like the commute sucked for a lot of people, even with the warnings and the early leaving and all the rest. It started to snow again before I headed for bed, when I was guessing we had about 4-5 inches of new snow. Yesterday before the action started, I went out into the backyard to look again for our snow shovel (I found it, in the garage), and the snow was above my ankles, a solid 3 inches left on the ground. So add to that, then it appears to have snowed another 3-4 inches overnight, and I have no idea. I’d have to slip and slide down to a flat spot and stick a ruler in the snow for what?
So maybe more snow this morning, and then a break until maybe tomorrow night, then Monday, then Tuesday...then maybe the end of the week...this is why those of us paying close attention are shaking our heads, imagining the potential. We might actually be snowbound for a week, essentially, although my wife tends to take more risks in this regard. I think it’s crazy to drive anywhere with these situations, but then I’ve worked from home for 30 years. I tend to be more objective when it comes to leaving home. I always have options.
That’s the worst case, though. These upcoming storms could fizzle at the last minute, or temperatures could rise just enough. Snow is always going to be a marginal event up here, barely making it sometimes and barely missing at others.
We have power. We have food. We have a young man with a birthday today, his 29th, which will be quiet by nature and necessity. It snowed 29 years ago, too, around this time. My mother-in-law was here to help with the new baby, and she marveled at it, something we always remember, this lifelong Texan looking out our front window and just being amazed.
“It’s a fairyland!” she said at one point, which we repeat a lot, almost every time it snows.