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Saturday, December 20, 2008

All is calm, all is bright

On this remarkable evening in Portland, we spent around four hours outside in the winter weather. This is a snow rarely seen in these parts -- dry powder, so light that the gusty east winds are blowing it into bona fide drifts. I took our five-year-old out on a sled pull to Irving Park, where the familiar slope was there for our solstice sliding pleasure. Then I broke out the cross-country skis, as I'd been hoping to do all week, and took a good long cruise from Irvington down to Laurelhurst to say hello to some friends.

It's a dreamy scene out there. The snow sparkled on the ground as a blizzard of tiny flakes added to the pile-up. There weren't many cars, even on the main roads, and the packed snow on the streets was excellent for the skis. The folks who were out on foot, some walking their dogs, were all cordial and seemed to be out of their normal shells. Two men stood on the corner of 28th and Sandy, carrying on a conversation as if nothing unusual were happening around them. In no hurry to get anywhere in particular.

The little loop I made showed me the same old places in an entirely new light. For some reason I felt in touch with the people of a hundred years ago, who built these houses and laid out these streets. It snowed on them once in a while, too, I'm sure. They didn't have the garish front porch displays of Christmas lights to light their way, but I'm sure there were as many Christmas trees in the windows of the houses. And that same east wind, supplying pretty much the only sound breaking the quiet. Except for when that freight train shuffling through Sullivan's Gulch let out a long, lonesome whistle.

It may not be a once-in-a-lifetime night, but ones like this don't come along often.

Comments (10)

I recall a winter storm event perhaps 15 years ago when I went hiking in Forest Park to enjoy the snow. It was the same situation with no automobile traffic to speak of, and in addition, PDX was closed down at the time - they had run out of plane de-icer. What I learned that day was that the noise from these two activities combined is primarily what we associate with the "rumble" of any large city - take them away, and without a lot of heavy manufacturing around here, there's not much else left to fill the gaps. This (or the absense of it) also had to be a part of what it was like 100 years ago.

It's one nice thing about living in a city that doesn't get many snow storms. The city can't remove all the snow so you get beautiful city landscapes like the one Jack just experienced. Frankly, I'm jealous.

Right now my car is covered in a one inch layer of ice and snow. My street has nine inches of snow topped with ice. I'm literally snowbound and trapped but my employer still expected me to come to work today. Pfffft.

Sadly, it looks like the winter wonderland is quickly given way to a....FREEZING RAIN/SNOWPOCALYPSE! Eeeep! I was hoping for a legit snow day but Mother Nature ain't havin' it. Had my sled ready and everything.

I looked up record snow falls in Portland and found the following;
The winters of; 1919-20; 1949-1950;1950-1951 and 1968-1969. The last one is vivid in my memory, as our family was literaly snowed in by a 4 foot drift on our country road in West Linn for over a week, and the snow on the ground was about a foot.
Where I live now, there is 15 inches on the ground with a thin glaze of ice.
I feel as though I am living in the upper mid west or maybe Timberline!

I did my every two-three years or so cross-country ski around Rose City Golf Course yesterday.

went snow shoeing thru our neighborhood....yay!

What a night indeed!

Out in Oregon City- we got about 8 inches of snow and some ice.

Hiked up the hill to 7-11 to get supplies and rode my snowboard back home. Lost a favorite eucalyptus tree to the ice weight though. 8 inch di. trunk snapped like a twig. The wood smells great when it burns.

I know exactly what you mean. Late this afternoon in yet another new batch of snow, we went hiking through the Overlook neighborhood with its tens and teens "saltboxes" and twenties bungalows. The snow strips away anachronisms. What you see is the neighborhood pristine; it is timeless. Everyone you meet nods back, because we all know we are out there for one reason -to be out there. It is like belonging to a secret club.

I live at nearly 350 foot elevation in South Burlingame.

We received 23" of white stuff (snow, ice, snow, snow, snow) according to my next door neighbor with eastside exposure drifts against his house approaching 4 feet.

Sadly, we are out of town.

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