Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow Day

I did a lot of walking today. Well, more walking than usual. From home I walked to the closest Max stop and then walked from the Max stop to work. (This is really only 10 blocks or so, but mind you it was a whopping 27 degrees outside.) When I repeated the same trip in reverse this afternoon (it was still not above freezing), I made a stop at the coffee shop down the street. Then later this evening I walked from my house to the video store and back. Strangely, I think the warmest trip was the last, which was made AFTER dark. It was the most pleasant walk I have had in a long time.

Today it snowed here in Portland. This may not mean anything to those of you reading in Montana or South Dakota or on the east coast, but snow here means NOBODY leaves their house. It's like there is a highly contagious disease on the sidewalks and streets. Nobody wants to touch it. They look at it like its the bearded lady or an artifact at a museum- they take PICTURES of it like they would take pictures of a buffalo at Yellowstone National Park.

I heard that Portland has only two snowplows, which would explain why nobody knows how to drive in the white fluffy stuff and also why only 10 streets in the entire city seem to be bare enough by the end of the day to see asphalt. From my work window today, I watched one of our two snowplows in action- what a disappointment. I think the plow was down just to make noise because the damn plow was not PLOWING anything. Generally, when a snowplow PLOWS something, that "SOMETHING" flies to the side of the street and off of the plow blade like snow does when you use a snowblower. Ok, sorry Portlanders- you probably don't know what a snowblower is, so let’s just say the purpose of this snowplow was being defeated. Buh-bye tax dollars.

I am not quite comfortable yet with driving my little 2WD car on snow or ice which is why I walked and Maxed it today. (In September I traded my adorable, reliable 4-wheel-drive pickup for a more fuel efficient and practical sedan (see "New Car, New Me" Sept. 2006.)) But more than that, I don't trust OTHER drivers here in snow or ice. (Or sun or rain for that matter. The west coast breeds the WORST drivers ever.) This morning, I saw a woman who was stuck in the middle of a usually busy intersection, spinning out and spinning out in her 4WD SUV that was NOT actually IN 4WD- she had her tire chains on the front tires. Her car was a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to feel sorry for the woman.

I quite enjoy the lack of activity that comes with the snow day though. When I walked to the video store just now, it was so quiet, so still- like it is super early on a Sunday morning. The snow is like a blanket that makes the city sleepy. Just a few cars are out, a couple of joggers. No roar of cars or buses. Not even any homeless people screaming at absolutely nothing like they commonly do.

One day last week it barely dusted snow (and I DO mean DUSTED- it looked more like frost and it was totally melted by noon) and the entire Portland school system was closed. Heaven forbid you make your children WALK to school on a few white crystals. Or take public transportation. I find all this "failure to deal with snow" a bit hard to believe since I only know TWO native Oregonians here in Portland. Are there no natives left here or do I just know all the transplants perhaps because I am one myself? Surely most people who moved here came from snowy states, no? That means they all potentially know how to drive in it, right?

I have totally lost my acclimation to cold temperatures. I have become such a wuss that now when its 35 degrees or less, I think the world is surely coming to an end. For the last week or more, the highs have been in the 30s which isn't too common for our little Portland. My toes were numb by the time I got to work this morning. Maybe I am becoming one of "those Portlanders".... if you can't beat 'em, join 'em I guess.


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