I should be at church playing the piano right now. Instead, I’m at a motel in Corvallis, looking out the window at a world coated with snow. The temperature is 12 degrees. Fahrenheit, not Celsius. The view is gorgeous. Beyond the snow and trees, the Willamette River sparkles in the early morning sun. Beyond that lie miles of snow-coated fields. I’ve always wanted to spend some time in Corvallis, to walk the streets, enjoy the stores and restaurants and stroll along the river, but this wasn’t quite how I pictured it.
I definitely didn’t imagine this when we moved to Oregon 17 ½ years ago. I came from a place where it doesn’t snow. It barely rains. When the thermometer dips below 70, folks complain that it’s too cold. I had heard that it rains a lot in Oregon. I thought okay, I’ll get a raincoat. I had no idea what 80 inches a year is like. But I learned. We Oregonians are taught to never carry an umbrella and never complain about the rain. It’s what keeps everything green.
But snow? Wait! I didn’t sign on for snow or for temperatures so low that it doesn’t melt for days and the roads are so slick I don’t know how to drive on them. One slide-around yesterday on Highway 34 on my way home from the airport convinced me to park as soon as possible. People who are used to snow are unfazed. I overheard my waiter at McMenaman’s brewpub last night telling a customer that he was comfortable driving in the snow but worried about those folks who don’t know what they’re doing. I wanted to set my Hammerhead beer down and raise my hand. Me!
My dogsitter is from the Midwest. She laughed when I asked if she had any trouble driving to my house on Friday night. I mean, come on. Everything in Newport was closed. They closed the schools and City Hall, stopped all the buses, and cancelled all the Christmas events. But Jo didn’t mind the snow and she knew how to turn on my faucets so they don’t freeze. Thank God.
The good news is that the snow stopped falling two days ago, and the sun is shining. We just need everything to defrost. I was in San Francisco during the worst of it. There, it got down to the high 20s and just a few drops of rain fell on me as I walked back to my hotel from the hospital. (Dad’s doing great, by the way. He went home yesterday. He’s the rock star of the cardiac unit.)
Before our plane turned toward Portland, the pilot took us on a tour of San Francisco Bay. Blue sky, green water, sailboats, the Golden Gate Bridge, beautiful. I kept asking myself why I was going back to the black-and-white land of rain and snow. If I wanted to live in the snow, I’d move to Alaska. But it sure is pretty.
Way back in February 1996, Fred and I came to the Oregon Coast for the annual Seafood and Wine Festival. It snowed. Nothing like this, but it did snow. Does it do this often, we asked the locals. Nah! They said. And we believed them. Silly us.
You’ll find me at the Super 8 in Corvallis until the ice thaws.