January 31, 2012

Snow, Portland Style

Amy and Annie in the rain with snow on the ground a couple
of weeks ago. Amy loved the snowman they built, which melted within
ten minutes of completion, and is to this day
still looking out the window to see if he will reappear.
"Mom," she says each day looking out the window,
"Our snowman died." Yes, honey, and you may not
see him for at least another year.

When it snows, it rains. That's just the way it usually is here in the Greater Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area.

Even though it generally ends in disappointment for school children and a lucky few with government jobs whose offices close when it snows, a snow event around here typically begins, at least, with great anticipation and excitement.

When there is impending snow here in the Willamette Valley, everyone is abuzz.

Some people run out to the grocery store for last minute "supplies" as though it were Black Friday, some run to the tire shops and get snow tires or studs and everyone--absolutely everyone--watches the news as though the    real date for the end of the world were about to be announced.

And we are all certain the news channels love it.

They talk about it incessantly--for public safety, of course--as the newscasters on location stand out in the freezing night air before the cameras, telling us that, at any moment, the blizzard of the year will be upon us. They give each weather "event" a name like "Winter Blast" and tell us of impending worsening weather conditions. Meanwhile, we the people of Portland, all stare out our windows into the sky, waiting. When darkness falls and we can no longer see the sky, we stare into the street lights instead, to see if any tiny snowflake shadows might begin to fall, lest we miss it all.

While we do have the occasional real snow event (for us, that means about 6 inches max here on the Valley floor) and the truly dangerous (and more likely) freezing rain event, most of the time all our excitement is for naught.

The moment the clouds roll in, the temperatures begins to rise, the snow, if any, eventually turns to rain and can be gone in hours or minutes. Oftentimes it does not stick here at all.

But we are not daunted. In the face of our disappointment, we still head outside the moment we see the white stuff coming down, no matter what is is mixed with. Heck, it could be mixed with lightning for all we care. We build wet snowmen, make wet, sloppy snowangels and throw dirty wet snow at each other. It is just what we do. Why? Because it gets really, really old just looking at water falling out of the sky.

So, all you folks from the mountains, or from Minnesota or North Dakota, or Upstate New York ... you folks who have the real winter weather. You know who you are. We know we seem ridiculous. And we like it that way.

After all, aren't we supposed to be keeping Portland weird?

No comments: