THIS is a snow day.
Yesterday it snowed in Portland.
It seems everyone announced the apparent surprise snowfall on their Facebook page. I’m guilty, too. Some of my funnier connections made pithy “We will rebuild” status updates with accompanying pictures of 1.5″ of accumulated snow.
I ventured out early for a walk at about 8:00. Hey, that’s early for a Sunday! It was nice. Deeper on the ground than it appeared from my 4th floor balcony. There’s a thrill of being the first footprints in new snowfall. Many of the sidewalks I travelled were still unmarked at that time of day.
It was beautiful.
Even downtown in the Southwest retail and financial core, there was a sense of peace. I observed that somehow office buildings and banks that were closed still had clear sidewalks in front of them whereas my idyllic NW Park Blocks were covered with barely disturbed snow. I wasn’t feeling litigious, but it was nice to be able to stomp off the snow that had frozen into the treads of my sneakers on those lovely clear spaces of sidewalk. Plus, I’m too old to fall all the way down. I may break. For real. The few pinwheel moments on my walkabout, where I had to fight gravity to remain erect, resulted a stiff back this morning. That’s enough of a physical cost for me.
The feeling of being Legend in Portland continued throughout my walk, even as I started seeing more and more folks venturing out. You know, like one couple every other block. Survivors of Snowpocalypse 2016. We should get t-shirts made. Maybe scarves would be more weather-appropriate.
The snow continued on and off throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Cars were still rare companions on the streets as I ventured out again about noon for lunch.
But that does not a snow day make.
A) It was Sunday…what a waste for the city to shut down on a weekend day when most people are off work, anyway. Weekend snow used to irritate my retail heart when I was working because business was utterly ruined. Then again, that same retail heart was pretty much reminded of the phenomenon of business ruined by snow over the last few years. The FOMO phenomenon pretty much shuts retail business down more and more frequently throughout the year. Remember the old social joke about someone going to the opening of an envelope? Yeah, that’s what our country’s FOMO culture has done to retail business; parades, carnivals, sportsball matches…people flock mindlessly to those epicenters of activity and it’s an entire day wasted for a two or three hour event.
You’ve got to find parking as close as possible. Portland has a legitimate bridge and tunnel populace, driving in from the west side through the 26 tunnel or coming in from as far away as Camas and Vancouver, WA over the Glen Jackson or Interstate bridges and from as near as ten blocks away over anyone of the half dozen bridges that join the east and west side of Portland proper. It’s a population that isn’t quite as savvy as the bridge and tunnel crowd in Seattle who know to take Metro into town on game days or for evening performances at 5th Avenue or Paramount theaters.
People are compelled to get in line early at the stadium to get the best General Admission seats. Or, if there’s no line just throw some lawn chairs along the parade route and then go wander aimlessly to kill time until the event begins – but don’t buy anything because you don’t want to carry it around with you all day…but you’re still entitled to use the bathroom and then get pissy because an employee of the store tried to sell you something.
Ok, let’s see…so, it doesn’t count as a snow day because it was a weekend and you were likely off anyway.
B) It really doesn’t snow enough in the major cities in Oregon and Washington to merit shutting a city down. Like I said, an inch and a half is a marvel. The real fun begins the night of the snow fall…after a little melt off has happened and the temp drops slightly when the sun goes down.
Then it freezes.
Or, like yesterday, continued precipitation becomes the less romantic freezing rain.
Then it’s on. Try doing anything on an inch of ice. That’s what will shut a city down.
Our freezing rain started mid afternoon yesterday and by 4:30 businesses were announcing closures for today – the first day back at work for many after the New Year’s holiday three day weekend. Some businesses closed on Christmas Eve and today was due to be the first day back at work after ten days off.
Lucky bastards…this is your bonus lucky day.
THIS is a snow day.
Skyfall by Adele just came on Sonos. It’s always surprising how my mind can link what I’m writing about to the music playing in the background and twist some relevance out of it, yet when the music doesn’t fit into my theme it’s just white noise.
When I ventured out today, the scene was decidedly less romantic than yesterday morning. Every step was “step-crunch” as I broke through the thin film of crusty ice covering the snow.
Sidewalks that had been cleared yesterday had become a fool’s ice rink. They looked safe, but a “Whoops!” caught in your throat at the first step onto those seemingly clear walk ways as you struggled to remain upright. I moved my phone from its normal back-pocket home into my jacket pocket, just in case I became one of the victims of gravity – one of the poor bastards my younger, surer-footed self would have laughed and laughed and laughed at – helplessly splayed out on the ground; clothes absorbing filthy, cold water at a surprising rate.
The melt off that had happened over the course of the morning and afternoon yesterday as motor traffic braved the streets refroze, preserving the gray and black slush in ice again.
The pretty was gone. Snow’s beauty, like our own natural beauty, falls prey to time and usually does not age particularly well.
That said, Portland’s 2016 snowfall still looked beautiful from a drone’s-eye view.
From the streets it looked more like a wet nuclear winter. This residue is what gets me so excited to encounter the dry, lazy snowfall that we had during our day trip to Hood River last Saturday. It barely accumulates, and whatever does build up just blows around in whatever direction the ice-cold wind sends it whirling.
But, this gray sludge won’t last long. It’s supposed to remain above freezing all day and begin raining about midnight tonight. By the time we wake up tomorrow, I imagine only the deeper piles of shoveled snow will remain and the city will be back to its moist and drizzly self.