It snowed

A lot.

image of outside chair with about 10 inches of snow on it.

The forecast was for a trace to 2″ in higher elevations. Hah!

image of outside chair with about 10 inches of snow on it.

It started snowing around 10:00 AM, but nothing was sticking because temps weren’t below freezing. It started to stick around 11:00, but not much, and the temperatures were still above freezing. Many of us didn’t think that much about it because…oh, I don’t know. Because we all count on weather forecasts to be accurate now. Because whenever we all get excited about possible snow, it almost never materializes. Because it was sticking to some things, but the roads were still clear. Because last week was false spring in northwest Oregon, and we’ve collectively decided that the time for real winter has passed.

Some schools closed early, but many did not because it wasn’t supposed to freeze until later, after the snow was supposed to stop falling.

Many, many people ended up on the road around 3:30, when, instead of tapering off, the snow started falling harder and the temperature dropped. People like Cane and me, who had to go feed his daughter’s cat. We could have left to feed the cat earlier in the day, when his school closed at noon, but instead we took a nap. Because we were tired. Because we knew we could go later. Because there wasn’t that much snow on the road and it would probably melt. Because the weather was not a big deal.


image of outside chair with about 10 inches of snow on it.

Once in the car, we quickly realized our folly.

About a third of the way there we realized that even if we could get to said cat, we might not be able to get back home. That realization took us a bit of time to get to because denial is a strong persuader, and it’s hard to let go of our ideas about what we can and can’t control and how things are supposed to be. But finally, reluctantly, we admitted that the cat could live until we could get there the next day, but we might be in some trouble if we didn’t turn around. We ducked into a side street and went around the block to get ourselves going in the opposite direction on the street pictured above. We then moved two car lengths in 20 minutes. And while we were idling and trying to make a plan, we had the further realization that all of the routes home we might take included a slope of one kind or another.

We needed to bail on the whole enterprise of driving.

We took the first turn onto a side street that we could, and we drove as far in the direction of our house as we could before hitting another clogged street or hill. Then, we parked our car on the side of the road, locked it, and began a nearly 2 mile walk to our house, with snow blowing in our faces in below-freezing temperatures.

Before we left the house, I’d grabbed a pair of thin, knit gloves I use for skating, but not my warm ski gloves. “It’s not like the horse is going to die and we’re going to have to get there on foot,” I’d joked, “but I feel like I should have something if we’re going out in bad weather.” I was sure I wouldn’t need them.


We walked a mile. We took our glasses off because we realized we could see better without them. The world felt a little apocalyptic.

We stopped at a bar to dry off and warm up because our pants and my silly gloves were soaking wet and my thighs had gone numb. Cane got his glasses out, and the frame snapped in two. We ordered a drink.

From the news playing on big screens, we learned that another 4-6″ was now expected to fall through the night. We realized we’d best get moving. So we did. More blowing snow. More trudging. More numb thighs and cold hands. And then we finally got home, around 6:30.

It kept snowing. And snowing. And snowing.

image of outside chair with about 10 inches of snow on it.

But our power stayed on, and we had food, and it was pretty, and we felt lucky.

It turned out to be the second-biggest snowfall that Portland’s ever recorded. (The #1 spot goes to a snow in 1943.) Ten inches wouldn’t be a very big deal in a lot of places, but it is here, where we rarely see that kind of accumulation. It took some guy on Reddit more than 12 hours to get home, and the news reported 6 hour commutes for many. Some people on interstate roadways walked away from their cars. It was a big deal because weren’t ready for it, we have little experience with it, and–because this kind of thing is rare–we don’t have a lot of infrastructure in place for it.

So much depends upon what you’re prepared for, doesn’t it?

The next day we took the bus to the cat. Had the whole thing to ourselves.

The cat was OK, and we were OK. We ended up doing some more walking in the cold east winds, but it was no longer snowing, and we had good shoes and hats and gloves. I wore thicker jeans than I’d had on the night before.

The day was beautiful. Still, it was cold, and it felt so nice to walk up to our cozy little house when we finally got there. Again.

As I finish these words, we’re in the ugly stage of snow. It’s raining, and the view out my window is full of chunky, dirty-gray sludge. We should soon be back to our region’s normal. I’m going to miss our brief respite from normal. The night we walked home, we passed a sloping street with a long back-up of cars. Several people who lived along that street were out with snow shovels, helping people get their cars unstuck. Stories of good samaritans made the news. On Friday, the streets were quiet in the way they were during the early days of the pandemic. The few of us who were out smiled at each other more than we usually do. Our Thursday night was challenging, but now we’ve got a good story we’ll tell each other when snow falls in the future. It’s been a quiet weekend of leftovers and movies and puzzling. A big part of me hates to see it end.

Still, I know other good things are on the way, and it will always be true that change is the only constant.

Daffodil sprouts pushing up through the snow.

9 thoughts on “It snowed

  1. Marian says:

    “…it’s hard to let go of our ideas about what we can and can’t control and how things are supposed to be.” Yes, indeed! And yes, you *do* also now have a good story. 🙂 I’m glad everything turned out well—except for Cane’s glasses snapping in half, that is, which is really unfortunate.

    • Rita says:

      Such a better story than my story of the snow of 2008, I was stranded on the mountain without power and food! And it was my first post-divorce Christmas and my kids were with their dad. That story actually makes a better story, but it was a painful one. This was sweet in comparison–but the glasses really were a bummer. Luckily, he has a spare pair.

  2. Kate says:

    What a lovely snow! And ten inches is a lot of snow no matter where you are when you’re not expecting it!! I love how neighborly people are in these situations and how slow and small the world becomes. Most of the time. Your description of your “adventure” and the days following were so lovely to read. I don’t know if your cold legs and snow covered lenses were as lovely in the moment, but it sounds as if you had a good attitude!

    • Rita says:

      It actually was pretty lovely in the moment, once I realized we were going to be just fine (which happened pretty quickly). I will admit there was a moment in the car when Cane told me that my stress was stressing him out more than driving in the snow was. A great opportunity to process the impacts of past trauma. (insert eye roll)

      I also loved how neighborly people were. In contrast to that, a friend who lives in a wealthy neighborhood sent me a photo of two neighborhood girls who were hiring themselves out to shovel walks. They were lovely-looking little girls, and before the last few years I would have thought that was the most natural thing in the world–but contrasted with all the folks I saw helping others expecting nothing in return, I couldn’t help seeing how we are socialized to see capitalism as “natural.”

  3. Kari says:

    It’s beautiful! But the worst kind of snow is ugly snow. I can’t write about snowfall here because the universe is listening. So I’ll just say that climate change is real, which you already knew.

    I absolutely love your cozy snowy house photos.❤️

    • Rita says:

      Oh, I know. About climate change and the universe. Our seasons feel pretty different from how they used to. Weather events just seem to be bigger–more ice, more rain, more heat. I was so thankful for our cozy, snowy house this weekend. Even when the snow turned ugly. 🙂

  4. Ally Bean says:

    What a story. Snow is beautiful in theory, but lots of it in reality is a whole ‘nother ball of wax [snow?]. I cannot believe how far you walked in blizzard-y conditions and that Cane’s glasses broke. Sometimes the dumb things that happen are just too dumb. Your photos are lovely, and I’m glad you eventually caught up with the cat who is really the catalyst [pun intended] for this story.

    • Rita says:

      I love a good bad pun! And true words: “Sometimes the dumb things that happen are just too dumb.” I guess it’s going to take a lot for me to be phased by snow misadventures now because I have a snow story in my history that it would take a lot to top. So, there is the silver lining to a hard time: It makes future less-hard times seem funny more than tragic. Cane was quite unruffled about his glasses, as he has a spare pair that he likes. Said it was time for some new ones, anyway. (I, having no spare, would have had a very different reaction if it had been me.)

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