Preschool child in colorful snow gear sitting in the snow next to a partially-icy stream in the forest

Snowlandia 2014

Published 2014-02-10

This past week we had 3 days of fine, fluffy snow just like in the movies.

When the snow arrived mid-day Thursday, PPS dismissed classes early and the city ground to a halt. Everyone trying to drive home at exactly the same time. Jenny spent almost 3 hours driving 10mi from Orion’s school to the house. Lots of folks were abandoning their cars — you could walk faster than drive — which made matters worse. On the bicycle at the same time my commute — also 10mi — took an hour, about 15min longer than usual.

By Sunday morning we had nearly 8" accumulated at our house. Portland has only 50 plows and they don’t salt the roads. By sunset Thursday we were homebound.

So we’ve had four-plus days now of inside fun like Legos and watching movies — Mary Poppins and Chicken Run. We don’t watch a lot of movies or TV so our kids were not well prepared for this much stimulation. Iris was enchanted by Mary Poppins; due to a snafu with the iTunes store we could only watch the first half on the iPad and that didn’t deter her at all. Orion lost interest and had trouble following the plot, I think. Chicken Run had the kids nearly in paroxysms of anxiety; Orion especially becomes over-involved with narrative devices like rising action and dramatic music. By the climax they were standing — no, jumping up and down — inches from the TV.

Of course, we also indulged in lots of outside fun like sledding down the street and exploring the snowy woods. This was Ada’s first big snow outside our front door (usually we have to drive to our snow on the mountain or in Eastern Oregon). She wanted only to go outside. Every time she looked out the window she’d say “play!” We have one disk-type sled — not good for the gentle grade on 4th ave — but friendly neighbor kids were always willing to lend us theirs. Which was another nice thing about the snow: we spent more time than usual visiting with neighbors (in the middle of the street, usually). I spent much of the weekend working so I only got out once or twice a day, but Jenny and the kids were out as much as five times (on Saturday).

Living as close as we do to Tryon Creek, we had plenty of opportunities for exploring the woods and building snowmen.

Iris and I made one trip to the grocery Saturday, it was mostly unnecessary but I wanted to test our minivan on the snow. With chains it was OK but I never got faster than 20mph.

The snow is bringing lots of birds to the feeders. I think they get better pickings in the forest when the ground is clear.

Today (Monday), I fired up the mountain bike and rode into work downtown. Took a little more than an hour, the worst parts were immediately around our neighborhood where the rain, snow and ice have combined to create a slippery, shell-shocked kind of terrain. Main streets were passably but sloppy. Jenny hoped to get out to the grocery, but didn’t want to drive on the mostly-clear main roads with the chains, which are themselves necessary to get out onto those main roads.

For years — decades, now — I’ve quipped that “you don’t shovel rain” and “I like snow, I just prefer to keep it away from where I live.” Yesterday we were in the forest when the temps rose above 40°F. The woods were alive with the sound of snow melting. Drip drip drip drip thwump. We got home and I shoveled the drive (for the third time this weekend) in my t-shirt. One of my favorite parts of snow is the part where it melts, and in Portland it doesn’t usually so much as melt as get washed away. I miss the still air and sound of water waking up.