One of the great things about living in Western Washington is that it doesn't snow very often. The weather is rainy, sure, but it is also blessedly mild. You can practically wear the same clothes all year, just adding a jacket when it gets cooler and subtracting it when it gets warmer.
However, when it does snow, everything grinds to a halt. Most cities do not have snowplows, you see. It's probably hard to justify expensive equipment that you typically only need once a year at most. Without snowplows, and with temperatures that are usually trampolining around freezing, it means that the snow on the roads melts during the day and then freezes at night. The treacherous road conditions are compounded because so many drivers are inexperienced snow drivers. Really, once it starts snowing, it is better to just stay home if you possibly can. People try to keep enough groceries on hand so they won't need to go to the store. After that, you kind of burrow in for a few days. It kind of reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder's description of her childhood winters in Little House in the Big Woods.
As a child growing up in the 19-80's, snow meant tuning into a special AM radio station where the announcer would read off all the school districts and whether they were cancelled or delayed. Delayed meant school would start a few hours late--which was better than nothing. But cancelled is what you really wanted. Cancelled school meant a surprise holiday with built-in entertainment in the form of playing in the snow.
In addition to school cancellations, most activities that are not essential just get cancelled when there has been any kind of snow accumulation. So snow in Western Washington means you have an excuse to stay home and get cozy. Sigh. Staying home and getting cozy is my favorite thing to do no matter what the weather. So what could be better?
My parents live in a semi-rural area, so snow storms when I was growing up often meant power outages. We heated our home with a wood stove, so we were still warm even if the power went out. We could cook on the wood stove as well--we had one memorable Thanksgiving where had to cook our turkey we on the top of our wood stove (moistest ever, by the way). It was both cozy and fun to feel like we really were Laura Ingalls Wilder, stuck at home because of the snow, cooking on a wood stove. Although maybe my mom has different feelings about those power outages...
My family had a great day yesterday. The kids who were old enough spent the day playing in the snow with friends, coming in to de-thaw, then going out again. It's was like a party out there with all the neighborhood kids coming out to play in the snow. Usually, the wet weather means everyone in the neighborhood digs into their houses like moles and we don't see each other until the Spring. I enjoyed the luxury of not having to go anywhere for a change, and just plain puttered: helping the kids, doing laundry, making copycat Great Harvest bread, making homemade bread crumb mixture out of leftover pita bread, cleaning the kitchen, making granola and decorating a mirror frame for my living room. I love puttering around my house, and snow days let me do it to my heart's content. Here's a sneak peek of what I'm doing to my mirror frame:
We learned some important things yesterday. For example, Nutella hot chocolate is delicious. And Washington snow is much wetter than Utah snow. Playing with friends is fun. Taking some extra time to love my home and get caught up on chores makes me feel happy.
We lived in Utah for about 15 years. There, snow is an expected and regular part of winter. For the most part, life goes on as usual, and it just means inconvenience--only extreme weather gives you a break. I'm grateful to live where I do and to have an excuse to slow down and enjoy my family and home once in a while. Thank you, Mother Nature.
It's another snow day. Oh yeah.