I was going to write about the trip I took to the ranch over the weekend--it was good, quiet, contemplative time--but then it snowed today and, as the Portland girl I am, it's completely taken over my life. What I mean to say is that because I'm from here, snow days are a ~big deal~. I don't know if it's the snow itself, or the anticipation of snow, or getting off of school or work for the day...but I do know that there's no joy like snow day joy. I was talking to a friend in my MFA program about this, because he's from the east coast where they get a lot of snow, and he was astounded that school would be cancelled while it was literally just raining outside. But it might snow! I said, quite seriously. He just shook his head.
I think this is something specific to Portland. There are, of course, all these practical matters that go along with our reasons for being extraordinarily cautious about snow (and the potential for it), and that's all fine and good. None of us know how to drive in the snow, everything gets icy, the children get trapped on school buses that can't get home in traffic, etc. The rest of the state seems to chug along just fine when it comes to snow, and maybe that's because most of the places that get snow here regularly get it, and it isn't such an event. But it IS an event here! It's the oddest phenomenon, how overtaken we all are when the sky starts to look even a little like snow. Our normal camaraderie over the weather (another recent transplant remarked to me the other day that she'd never seen people so invested in checking in with each other about "how they're holding up in the rain") becomes heightened to an extreme, and it feels like the city hums with anticipation about the snow. Then we all collectively gripe about what a pain it is, especially if it freezes. Don't even get us started about the ice.
But isn't it nice, to have that commonality? My sister, roommate and I were all in the kitchen last night when it really started to come down--huge, fat flakes that looked like feathers--and we ripped open the front door to stand on the porch, hold out our hands to catch the flakes as they fell, and exclaim in real, wild joy. The neighbor kids across the street came tumbling out of their house at nearly 10 p.m. to make a snowman in the yard, and it felt like the city did a huge exhalation.
It's funny because you think there will be things you grow out of: potty humor, gossip, picture books, dumb tv shows...the list goes on and on. And yet, I've found that as I've gotten older I still think any joke with the punchline "butts" is funny, I read advice columns to peer into other people's lives, I curl up with the books I read as a kid pretty often, I think I'll still laugh at Spongebob when I'm 90. And I think I'll always, always get excited about snow. I think it will always be a moment of wonder, when the flakes start coming down and you hold your breath hoping that they won't stop, when I call my sister because I know she's excited too. Those are the moments I've remembered for most of the winters in my life, the ones I'll hold on to. So here's to snow day joy. May we all know it.