Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Great Storm Watch

First Frost
Originally uploaded by Martina.
There is something magical about watching the first few flakes of snow as they begin their descent from the heavens. Snowflakes always evoke memories for me. Growing up in the fairly mild climate of the Pacific Northwest, snow was a rarity. When it does snow, we don't get the kind of storms encountered on the North Dakotan country where I was born (during a blizzard no less).

Even the slightest hint of snow is usually cause for great excitement in this part of the world. Newscasters bundle up, going on location in front of their studios, braving snow drifts as high as 1-2" to report mother nature's wrath from the front lines. Schools close, busses go on snow routes, and the public begins hoarding food and gasoline, hoping against hope that their provisions will see them through to the great thaw.

The great thing about getting snowy weather so infrequently that we are not really prepared for it is that as a kid, every mounting flake inflates the possibility of fullfillment of the dream of dreams - a snow day. Midwesterners would laugh at the conditions under which activity stops in our city, but I remember the glee with which I watched the skies as a girl, hoping, praying that the superintendent of our school district wouldn't be able to make it down the hill from his Mt. Scott home, for that would mean that schools would be closed.

One of my favorite snow storms ever was when I was living on the Illinois prairie. There is not much I remember fondly about that period of my life, but there was something so beautiful about the snow as it began to fall that night. Watching as just a few white flakes turned into a flurry falling beneath the street lamp outside of my apartment transfixed me. It remains forever etched into my memory as one of those moments of perfect beauty.

It's funny how memory can turn a moment that might have meant nothing into something significant. I'm not sure if I was listening to my favorite of Vivaldi's Four Seasons as I watched that night, but it is the soundtrack to my memory just as visiting Alliance, Nebraska during a snow storm on my 30th birthday will always be accompanied by Carhenge, maribou bunny ears and dancing in the snow.

And, so, on this January night when the Portland metro area is under a snowless snow watch, I reminisce about snow storms pass. There may be no snow on the ground, but there are plenty of warm memories of it in my head.


Chris said...

Tree pretty

Martina said...

Truth be known, I covet that red tree for my own yard. Someday I too will have a Japanese maple.