Thursday, December 18, 2008

Come on, it's lovely weather

Snow day! If you're a local reader, you know that we all tend to go bananas here at the merest hint of winter weather. Yesterday was a case in point; snow threatened, the schools were closed, I was the only person from my team to make it to the office...and then in Seattle proper, absolutely nothing happened. Hope you enjoyed the free Cloud Day, kids!

Today is a different story. Snow started sifting down in the wee hours of the morning, a deceptively delicate powdered-sugar dusting that just...wouldn't...quit. Worse still seemed the snowy bedlam pouring down on the east side of Lake Washington, to the point that one of the genial local news anchors lost his shit after watching the twentieth person swerve around the "road closed" signs and orange cones to try to climb the steep on-ramp to 520. (And fail, it goes without saying.) "You people are idiots!" he fumed, throwing his pen in the air, thumping the desk. "The road is closed! There's a bus in the ditch! There might be people working on that ramp right now and you're going to hurt them!"

"Alan, you need to move on," said his lady co-host eventually. It was impressive.

So. I sent my "oh, hell no" e-mail to my colleagues, before the NerdCo servers foundered under the onslaught of stranded geeks trying to log in from all over the city. Snowbound! Free day off! I spent several hours under a pile of blankets and cats before realizing the true impending crisis of my incarceration: I was out of toilet paper. Of course. Time to dress up like a wintry mental patient and flounder to the store. I was glad I still had a pair of old Doc Marten boots--not ideal, but better than encasing my feet in plastic bread bags like one of my grandmothers used to insist on.

And there is something to be said for the atmosphere, the rare and gripping challenge of walking in the snow in Seattle, trudging along for a purpose. There is the amazing silence, nothing but the sifting, sighing snow around your ears and the crump, crump of your own footsteps--it feels as good as it sounds. Occasionally there's a jangle of wind chimes, or tire chains. Occasionally also the shivery whine of an engine trying to turn over, revving and revving, stranded in the intersection: oops. Or the sound of tires sliding, behind you--not as comforting.

But there were kids out and about, on plastic toboggans and sleds and snowboards, and two teens sharing a single set of skis, one each. Another girl struggled to glide with what appeared to be a couple lengths of ornamental crown molding strapped to her feet; not sure how that played out as I crumped past. Kids pelted their mothers with snowballs, hollered "Push me!" or "Pull me!"

The Java Bean next to the market was open, praises be. Armed with coffee, I wandered the aisles, soaking up the general party atmosphere and buying both necessities and...not: donuts and good cheddar and chocolate-chip-cookie ingredients, because what else are you going to do on a snow day, besides drink cocoa and eat crap? Besides, I'd get my workout lugging it all back home through the drifts. The man behind me in line was buying a 12-pack of pilsner and four rolls of giftwrap. "You can see how the rest of my afternoon is going to go!" he said jovially. "Gradually, the packages will get messier, and messier..."

And so I crumped back home, shifting the heavy bag from hand to hand, waving at the poor bastards in the UPS truck who so kindly let me cross in front of them--I hope you don't wrap yourselves around a telephone pole today, fellas. I felt rosy and virtuous and slightly mummified, sweating in my wool cocoon. It was a relief to swap my snowy clothes for sweats and slippers at home. It is still snowing; I am on Christmas vacation as of next Monday but probably, really, tomorrow, and technically today, too. Giddy-up, let's go. <makes whip-cracking sound>