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Romancing the snow l Chuck’s World

 

February 13, 2019



I mentioned to a friend the other day that I was worried about someone we both knew.

I wasn’t really worried. I was remarking, really, that our mutual friend seemed to be having a hard time getting over a football game, and was doing that in public, by which I mean online.

This was the infamous NFC Championship, with the infamous pass interference penalty toward the end that wasn’t called. It was a pretty obvious missed call, and the consequences were obvious.

Had the correct call been made, the New Orleans Saints most likely would have played in the Super Bowl. If you’re a Saints fan, I understand completely. It felt very unfair, and there was no recourse.

I didn’t have a favorite in that game, so I just noticed the horrible call, shook my head, and watched the rest of the game. There was still quite a lot of game left to be played, when you consider the fact that it went to overtime.

By the time the Saints got the ball in the extra period and then turned it over by throwing an interception, and eventually lost, the penalty had sort of faded away for me.

I was just remarking that our friend appeared to be drifting into that cuckoo universe of conspiracy theory, a week after the game was over and in the books. He was starting to sound like a crybaby, and that’s not like him, so I brought it up.

And my friend, the other friend (I know this is confusing), suggested that in a world of things to get upset about, maybe it’s not a bad idea to have something fairly benign to blow off steam about. I thought about this for a long time. It’s pretty sage advice, it seems to me.

Maybe it’s useful to fuss over missed calls or Oscar snubs or billionaires and their problems. Maybe, here in the midst of global and national chaos, it’s OK to get bent out of shape over trivial stuff, just to stay sane.

And maybe we’ll all be grateful, in the future, for this snow. It gave us something to talk about that didn’t involve calling other people names. That’s kind of refreshing.

I was born in Southern California and moved to central Arizona when I was 11, and I’d been exposed to snow for maybe 30 minutes total before I moved to one of the snowiest places in the country, Flagstaff, for college.

I remember my roommate, my best friend from high school and junior high, waking me up one January morning so I could see snow falling for the first time in my life. You don’t forget that moment.

From my late teens through my early 20s, then, with all the high drama and low comedy that time provides, I had a backdrop of snow. We’d have deep, quiet snows that covered the city like a blanket, and since most students lived on (or near) campus, it was never particularly inconvenient, just cold. Flagstaff receives roughly 9 feet of snow every winter, so I had time to get used to it.

There was snow on the ground when I spotted the young woman in the parking lot that December day, someone I hadn’t seen in a few weeks and had confused feelings about. We waved and talked, and spent the evening talking some more.

A month later, we’d moved into an A-frame with roommates outside of town, miles from anything, and we got socked in a lot. Our romance didn’t need much help, but living among the pines with several feet of snow on the deck and a fire in the woodstove didn’t hurt.

Snow seeped into my romantic DNA, then, and became part of my story. After we got married and moved to the Northwest, my wife and I continued to get excited about our occasional snows, storms that would swoop in and dump a few inches or even a few flakes, didn’t matter.

It was like getting a postcard from the past, and it would always melt and cause few problems.

This is obviously different. You remember Super Bowl Sunday, the game that the Saints fans boycotted and the rest of us yawned through? I haven’t been further than a mile from my house since then, and that only once.

Your results may not have varied much, either. My wife is a college professor in a busy winter quarter, and I think she taught two classes last week. She said last night she’s worried she might forget how to teach, and she was only joking a little.

As I write this, snow is falling lightly and nobody knows anything. There’s at least a foot of snow in my yard, over my car, covering my driveway and street. I live on the side of a hill, something I have in common with many of you. I’m not going anywhere.

It’s a huge hassle, a nightmare for the region, dangerous for many, deadly for some. I’m not going to minimize it, or not hope for a quick thaw.

But I’m still going to remember my mother-in-law, out here 29 years ago for the birth of my son, when it snowed 8 inches over a couple of days.

“It’s a fairyland!” this Texas native said, gazing out the window, and now that’s what we say here, whenever it snows, because it sort of is.

 

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