Monday, December 22, 2008

A Blindingly White Christmas

Did Al Gore come to the Pacific Northwest? They say that wherever he shows up to give one of his talks on global warming the temperature drops to unusual lows, but this is taking the Gore Effect to new extremes (especially if he doesn't actually happen to be here). Talk about power. We have had winter in Portland, honest-to-goodness winter for over a week, and that just doesn't happen here before Christmas without some dramatic intervention from a higher power, like God graciously answering "yes" to the prayers of kids and teachers who want a snow day, or the aforementioned global weather czar making an appearance to prove to the already convinced that global warming is going to ruin the planet. I lean toward the Almighty myself, but some might attribute more power to the former Vice President.

In any case, every day for the last three or four days the weather prognosticators have been assuring us that one more band of moisture was coming through that would raise temperatures above freezing and turn off the snow showers, but every day the cold front from the east defeats the wet warm front from the west, and the snow continues to fall. We did get a brief interval of freezing rain (about a quarter of an inch) a couple times, but those sheets have simply gotten layered between the more flaky kind of crystallized water to give the surface a little crunch when we walk through it.

So, I got my wish. Snow. Lots and lots of gorgeous now. I have now had six planned events cancelled by the weather, including the Christmas service and turkey dinner at church yesterday. That's disappointing. However, we've rescheduled them for next week, so hopefully we get to make the church events up, and in the meantime we get a winter adventure! The big event of the week is still coming, of course. I do hope Christmas comes off as planned. All of my Mom's children will be together for the first time ever. The last time it happened I was a toddler, so tack forty plus years on to that and it pretty much qualifies as having never happened. I was basically a senseless, thankless oyster at the time, so I don't really count it as a complete family moment. (MAJOR bonus point to anyone who gets the oyster reference and can tell me what movie it's from.)

At some point today, Ked and I are supposed to go to the butcher's and pick up the prime rib we ordered for Christmas dinner with the family. The shop is about a mile away, so we have decided to strap on the snowshoes and a backpack, and trek there on foot. Why not!? People pay money for the chance to get a good workout in the snow, and we've been out walking in it several times already. The difference today is that there's LOTS more of it, so the snowshoes will come in for use. That just makes the adventure all the more adventurous!! We can't let this opportunity for a winter-gym-at-our-doorstep go to waste! Other people agree with me, too. So far today I have seen dads pulling sleds, neighbors wielding snow shovels, and one intrepid soul who lives across the street gliding up our hill on cross-country skis. That last one took me by surprise, to be honest. It's just not something you see here in the rain zone. I wonder if we'll cause the same reaction for someone else when they see us trudging by wearing snowshoes? Heh.

Here's Ked out in back by our pear tree. If you look closely, you can just see the top edge of a retaining wall behind him and to the left. That's a raised bed that stands about 18 inches high. The whole back yard is one giant snow drift.

These bushes across the street are feeling the weight of the ice layers. A few of the trees are looking pretty top-heavy these days as well.

Remember how in an earlier post I said I'd never driven in snow? This would probably be the perfect opportunity to learn, if we wanted to dig the car out of the snowdrift that is... That retaining wall is three feet high.

In my last post I noted that my house was wearing a light white winter jacket, and that it needed more clothing. Well, I'd say now that it dressed up for the holidays! That little tree is wearing a full tree-skirt. Heck, I'd call it a ball gown at this point!!

Ked got out soon after I snapped that last photo and cleared the stairs and walkway a bit for the mailman. That's always a risk here in Portland, because snow often turns to freezing rain (at least in our part of town, which is quite near the the Columbia Gorge), and you'd much rather have freezing rain over snow than over bare steps and pavement. Trust me on this one. You can stomp your way through crunchy snow much better than you can keep your balance on a sidewalk ice skating rink. Hope this choice pans out. They're calling for more snow, and less freezing rain in the forecast, but you never know here in the northern Willamette Valley. We may only get winter once every three or ten years, but when we do, anything can happen...