Of Late Winter

Last weekend it snowed in Portland.

It came down lightly Wednesday evening. Disappeared. Dusted the morning grass on Thursday. Disappeared again. The snow came down in earnest on Thursday afternoon. By Friday the town was heavy with snow, and the quiet weekend began.

To live here is to know that this is an event. This town, this entire valley lying between the Central Cascades and the soft coastal mountain rage, takes rain in stride like only so many air particles. The soil swells with it, eroding the ground and building again. Occasionally it bursts with it and avalanches of soil tumble down hills from too much rain. We take this in stride.

We are not equipped for snow. We are not equipped for the inevitable ice that follows. This town is made of hills and forests. We make tracks with our feet and the roads go unplowed.

And so we rest and play. We are housebound or we walk, but we allow the city to stop humming for just a bit and we shut down, which is its own kind of magic. Strangers beam at you and say hi as they walk past, neighbors pool sleds and find the nearest hill to speed down. The edges soften.

Just as quickly as it comes, it melts away and we waken from a strange, white dream. By Monday, snow had given way to slush. Tuesday morning I sipped tea and looked out into the growing light to see green grass vibrant against the grey morning, and sensed a stirring of spring underneath all of that wet, wet soil.