Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a cold front went a little bit crazy, the snow came in from off the coast, and everyone fell fast and thick

Last night it hailed. Buckets of pea-sized hail balls fell for about 30 minutes. There was also lightning. It was a wild night, briefly. Then it stopped hailing and resumed drizzly raining and acted all normal for December in the Pacific Northwest.

I woke up in the morning to see fluffy white dandruff drifting from the sky. It had that surprised look that the first snow of the season often has: "What? me? snow? Nahhhhhh! not really... well, maybe." I watched it falling in the dark and thought, "I'm not driving today." A tiny bit of me felt like I was being too cautious, but I really prefer not to drive when it snows. We live on a steep hill, and even if you can get out and off to work, getting back up the hill to home 9 hours later is frequently another story altogether.

So I put on my Gore-Tex and my hiking boot hybrids, and my baseball cap, and because it is nearly mid-winter and still dark at 7:30am, I clipped and velcroed on a variety of reflective and luminescent doo-dads to help make myself visible in the darkness and the thick wafting snow. Instead of a nearly invisible shadow person, I looked like something driving around on the tarmac at the airport.

Walking up the hill, I kicked at least 5 inches of snow out from in front of my boots with each step. It was really piling up. I reached up and noticed that the LED light on the visor of my ball cap was covered up with snow already, just 10 minutes into my one hour walk. I brushed it off and continued walking. It was actually really nice out. The snow was deep but light and everything was transformed by a marshmallow puffy coating.

A lot of people were standing at the bus stop. I walked past them, and wondered how the buses were doing. Lots of people take transit instead of their cars when it snows. Pretty soon I came across a bus that was empty and parked on the side of the road, hazard lights flashing, on a very gentle hill. A little further on, two other buses were stuck on another gradual slope. I think the roads were very slippery for vehicles. Cars seemed to be making it through, but the buses were just stuck.

Along the way, I saw a family tumbling out of the front door of their house. I imagined what each person was thinking. The Dad was grumbling about having to drive his kids to school and wife to work in what was sure to be awful traffic, and wondering whether he should have done a better job scraping the driveway. The kids were thinking SNOW! and looking for the deepest drift to plunge into, face down. The Mom was worried about whether they would all make it safely to their destinations, and hoping that everyone had properly packed their lunches, books and gear in the mad rush to get out the door. She had a sinking feeling that this was going to be a long and stressful day.

I was even more grateful to be able to walk to work when I got up to North Road, a busy arterial route. The snow had fallen so quickly there that is was not melting under the rush hour traffic. Instead, it was mashed down into an icy compressed pack, about an inch thick on the road. Drivers were inching along, partly out of caution, and partly because of congestion (traffic, not nasal). I churned my way past them on the still fluffy sidewalk. At one point, the traffic bottlenecked from 2 lanes down to one. The weight of the snow had brought down an old tree. It leaned across a fence and out over the right lane, hanging too low for cars to pass under it. I crouched and scrambled under it, then stopped walking for a moment, and phoned the police to let them know about the problem.

By the time I got to work I was really happy to be walking. Everything looked so beautiful, and everyone who was walking looked happy to be out on such a white shiny morning. Lots of people were out with their dogs, and the dogs were ecstatic. All of the dogs were thinking: SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! Dogs have a wonderful outlook on life. We should all be more like dogs.

The parking lot at my work was nearly empty at 9am, and it had not yet been plowed, so I wrote a big message on its snowy expanse, by shuffling around in my boots, forming a word 15 feet tall and 30 feet wide, before I went inside to work. The message was in dog. It said SNOW.

question: how did you manage with the weather today?

mompoet - SNOW!

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