I love snow. Always have, always will. I figure this is because I spent so many years living in Hawaii, where a “cold snap” is defined as a temperature in the lower 70s. Snow still feels like a novelty to me – a magical gift from the heavens, one that buries the world in a pristine blanket of white. Snow is purity and beauty – it erases the world’s imperfections and glosses them over, turning the landscape into a real-life Norman Rockwell painting. When it snows, anything is possible.
So, when I woke up this morning at 8:00 and opened the blinds to find everything covered in white and big, fat snowflakes falling to the ground, I leaped out of bed. Literally. And then I pressed my nose against the glass and stared, marveling over the silver dollar-sized flakes piling up so quickly. Even though my bedroom window overlooks the garage, and my view consists of a row of townhouses across the way, the whole scene looked like a winter wonderland. I quickly brushed my teeth, eager to race outside and take a walk in the snow, only to find the clouds breaking up and nothing but a few lazy flurries drifting to the ground. Drat! Foiled again. Mother Nature has been that way this winter, teasing us with snowflakes in the air, only to snatch them away the moment it begins to look like they’re going to amount to something big. This was the third time since Thanksgiving week that has happened.
I suppose I ought to be living in Buffalo. The only problem with that scenario? I’d be living in Buffalo. I like spicy chicken wings as much as the next guy, but Buffalo does not strike me as an ideal city to call home. I love the Pacific Northwest far too much to ever consider moving away. Unfortunately, Portland’s proximity to the mild Pacific Ocean means we don’t get a lot of snow. Rain, yes. But our average snowfall is around 5″ a year. Often, we’re lucky to get that. There are exceptions, of course. In December 2008, it snowed and snowed and snowed. We had a true white Christmas, with over a foot on the ground that day. Ended up with 18″ for the month, a record. My dad mumbled and cursed (he’s no snow lover, probably because he grew up in Trenton), but I was in heaven. If every winter gave us snow like that one, I’d be a perpetually happy camper.
Sadly, this is not the case. Everything has to come together exactly right for snow to fall in Portland. That means, 9 times out of 10, when the National Weather Service predicts snow, nothing happens. Conversely, when there’s no mention of snow in the forecast, we are occasionally surprised. Like one year ago today. Cloudy with rain, they said. Cut to late afternoon, and a surprise snowstorm that stranded motorists and gave us a couple of inches. That was a fun afternoon for me!
Usually, when it’s cold enough to snow, there’s no moisture. And when there’s plenty of moisture, it isn’t cold enough for snow. Like this coming weekend – frigid weather is moving in. It’s going to drop into the 20s at night and only the 30s during the day. But the friggin’ sun is going to be shining. What good does that do anybody?! You know what, Mother Nature? Bite me.
There’s still plenty of winter left. It isn’t even January yet, after all. We might still end up with a good snowstorm or two. I just hope they don’t start predicting one, because if that’s the case, we’re doomed.
But enough about the weather. Today marks a record for me: it’s the longest I’ve ever kept my Christmas tree up. I’m like Mr. Fa La La La La, all gung-ho for the season…right up through Dec. 25th. The next day? It feels weird seeing Christmas decorations and lights. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt this way. Many people – most people? – leave their tree up until New Year’s Day, at least. But in my mind, it feels like the two holidays clash. New Year’s is champagne and party favors and balls that drop and Auld Lang Syne. Christmas is lights and stockings and Santa and Hark The Herald Angels Sing. You wouldn’t hide Easter eggs on the 4th of July, right?
I rest my case.
Which is why I traditionally un-Christmas the house every Dec. 27th. This year I’ve resisted the urge to put the tree out to pasture and box everything up longer than ever before, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t bugging me a little bit more with each passing day. Besides, to squeeze the tree into my abysmally tiny living room, I’ve had to move the Man Chair away from its cozy spot in the corner to practically the middle of the room, and that just throws the feng shui all out of whack. So, the odds of my tree and other Christmas decorations lasting until Saturday are pretty slim, but we’ll see.