Eight days ago, the Portland area, Newberg included, got it's first snowfall for the winter and it measured a mere 2 inches from the deepest spot in our yard. Being born and bred midwesterners, we thought it was comical how just a few inches of the pretty white stuff could shut an entire city down. Our church cancelled services, interstates were closed, and chains were required for driving. We frolicked in the yard and tried to build a snowman, but there just wasn't enough snow. By 6 p.m. on Sunday night, we'd received calls that both school and Curt's work were CANCELLED for Monday and we celebrated our good fortune of an unexpected day free of obligations.
Locals told us that since the Portland area doesn't get much snow, the snow removal equipment is sparse and used primarily on the interstates. There aren't many sand or salt trucks either, so when it snows, the snow stays on the roads until it melts, which is typically the next day. However, this is proving to be an atypical Portland winter.
On Monday, it snowed some more and school was cancelled for Tuesday. Tuesday, it snowed again and school was cancelled for Wednesday. The weather warmed a bit on Wednesday and the snow started to melt. From where I sat, in my cozy kitchen nestled in the foothills of Parrot Mountain, the kids could easily have gone to school, but since the buses couldn't safely run their routes, school was again cancelled for Thursday. And just like that, Christmas break morphed from the typical two weeks to three weeks.
Every morning we'd wake to just enough snow and blowing winds to snarl the morning commute and cancel school and community events. By noon, the snow would melt just enough for people to venture out in relative safety, but by late afternoon, all the moisture on the roads would re-freeze, turning the metro area into a virtual skating rink.
The kids and I started going stir-crazy by Thursday, so we took off in our front-wheel drive van. We had a great time together, but couldn't get back up the steep hill that our cul-de-sac stems from. It was packed with about 6 inches of snow and ice and I couldn't get the traction I needed to get to our turn off. I stuck it reverse and we slipped and slided all the way to the bottom. After a quick prayer, I gunned it and tried to find some fresh snow to get any sort of traction. This time we made it, but I nearly blew up the van engine in my attempt, and it was then I realized we were truly snowed in.
Friday night it started snowing again and it didn't stop. By the time we went to bed on Saturday night, we had over 8 inches in our back yard. Curt's Christmas party for work and church were cancelled, and the snow continued into Sunday. Huge flakes drifted lazily from the sky and continued their accumulation in our unplowed streets and driveways, transforming our street into a virtual snow globe. Just to make it interesting, we had some freezing rain and sleet added to the mix. Sunday night Curt got the call that he had a snow day, not just for today, but for the entire week. "Trying to get to work just isn't worth the effort - Merry Christmas!"
I woke up to more winter wonderland this morning. An extra 4 inches fell during the night and it snowed off and on all day again today. We didn't even bother to try to measure the snow, but when Grant and I trudged up the hill to the communal mailbox, the snow was seeping in over the top of my snow boots and came to the top of Grant's knees. It was the first day that both the mailman and paper man couldn't get up the hill to make their deliveries.
When we realized the mailbox was empty, we decided to go on an adventure and we climbed to the top of the vacant hill next to the mailboxes. At the top we soaked in the beauty and pureness of a world completely covered in white. The woods behind us were cloaked in untouched snow that sparkled and danced in the newly emerging moonlight. Branches bent under the weight of the snow and street lights beckoned warmly in the distance. Newberg lay nestled in the valley, with snow-covered mountains socking it in on every side and a huge cloud of steam from the paper mill mixed with the clouds to create an intriguing blend of whites and grays. Our happy, inviting neighborhood radiated warmth, charm and fun with it's homes, built into the sides of the hills, decked out in Christmas lights and covered in snow.
The weather forecast continues to look "bleak" with more snow and cold tomorrow. The weathermen are hailing this "the worst winter storm to hit Portland in 40 years." Initially it was tempting to be irritated at this unexpected change of pace, but then we realized what a great opportunity this is to give each other the gift of time. We've hunkered down, completed projects, baked, taken naps, played in the snow till our fingers and cheeks are red, built a snow fort, drank at least a gallon each of hot chocolate and hot apple cider, gained at least 10 pounds from inhaling all the Christmas goodies, painted, attempted potty training Paige and then quickly abandoned that idea, watched movies, had family devotions every night, and started reading out loud "The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever."
We have plans to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with extended family and I REALLY hope the weather clears enough by then to be emerge from our winter den, but until then I'm content to go walking in a winter wonderland.