Sunday, February 09, 2014

How to Make Me Happy

"Does snow just make you happy?" Amy asked me in December when we had that cold snap and we were taking a walk and her nose was freezing and I was practically bouncing for joy.

"Yes," I said.  It's the Minnesota girl in me, I'm sure.  I just go a bit crazy-happy in snow.

It is just so incredibly WHITE.

And it's bright.  In fact, when there's snow on the ground, there's so much light in the air you feel like you could breathe it in.  Even at night, you look outside and there's all this endless, generous whiteness, solid and waiting in the darkness.

The weather reports earlier this week hinted at snow in that way that Oregon weather reports do, and you learn to calm down the Minnesota girl inside and tell her it'll probably just be a few flurries, at best, and if there's any accumulation, it'll be up in the hills, not here, so don't get your hopes up.

But on Thursday it started snowing in the morning, enough that many local schools were closed but not enough to call off Linn-Benton Community College, so Ben went to his 8:00 class and Paul dithered about whether or not to call off school.  All those self-tests people were scheduled to take, and HE wouldn't have any trouble getting there and back.

I reminded him of the inexperienced 16-year-olds driving their siblings to school.  He finally made the call to cancel school for the day, and Linn-Benton closed early as well and Ben had a dicey drive home, going 35 or less the whole way.

Friday there was no question about school.  It snowed, and snowed, and snowed, steady, all day.

Normally when it snows in Oregon there's a flurry of snowflakes, and I stand at the window and watch, thinking "Yes, yes, you can do this, little snowflakes, please please, keep coming, be strong," as the flakes finally stop melting when they hit the ground and actually start to cluster in the green grass.  But, far too soon, the falling flakes get slower and bigger until they are like cotton balls, filling the air, and then they stop.  Within a couple of hours the temperature rises and all of the pathetic little stash of snow melts.

Not this time.

It kept coming, fast and steady, with small, insistent flakes, hour after hour.

It covered the roads, the sidewalk, the cars, the grass.  It grew, inch by happy inch.

I found my winter hat in the attic, the moosehide-and-rabbit-fur hat that Mary Kanakakeesic had made for me when we lived in the North, and I went out walking in the snow, the air full of white flakes, falling falling falling.  I turned my face upward and caught snowflakes on my tongue and was entirely happy.
"There is no such thing as bad weather.  Only inadequate clothing."
This is how crazy I am about snow: we had to cancel our ladies' retreat at the coast because of the storm, but I was still happy. Yes, that retreat, the one that I look forward to for months before and chuckle about to myself for weeks after, recalling late-night conversations, and eat amazing food at, and just hang out with friends in an utterly relaxing, rejuvenating weekend at.

If it had to be canceled, snow was the best possible reason, unless it would be my kids or sisters coming to visit, something like that.

So I stayed home and went on walks, tromping happily in my black boots and big coat.  I even made a snow angel.
By Saturday we had about 9 inches of snow and only a few miles north of here they had a lot more.  This is also what happens in Oregon: you go to bed at night and lift the shade to take a last peek out of the window at the snow, and then in the morning you wake up and everything is dripping and the green grass is showing again.

But Saturday morning there was, if anything, more snow on the ground.

Then it started in with this crazy rain.  It wasn't hard or fast, but it stuck to everything.  And it laid a crusty layer of ice all over that lovely snow.

Which put an end to my happy rambles, because the ice wasn't thick enough to support me, and neither was it easy to break through.  So each step was a hard stomp downwards to try to break through without your foot sliding off toward the walnut tree first.

Paul, undaunted, went back and forth to the warehouse during all this.  One time, before he left the house, Jenny asked him to bring a shovel home.  She wanted to do this cool thing she had read about in books: Shoveling the Walk!

So he did, and she did, and I took a picture.
She also had great fun tossing crumbs out onto the snow for the birds, again like people in books.  The birds loved it even though their little feet kept scootching sideways on the ice, which made them nervous but it was just too cute.

 Jenny also brought in an ice-covered branch and quoted dramatically from The Wreck of the Hesperus:
The rattling shrouds all sheathed in ice
with the mast went by the board
Like a vessel of glass she stove and sank
Ho ho! the breakers roared.

Today, Sunday, we stayed home, unheard of for this family on a Sunday morning.  I ventured out and took more pictures and watched bits of ice come showering out of the pine trees like little clinking bits of broken glass.
Now, this evening, the temperature is up to 43 degrees and the snow and ice are going going going, off the sidewalks and roads, sliding down off the roofs, crashing off the trees, steadily slipping away.

But my family is ready for school and normal life, and so am I.  While I am sad to see the snow leave, I feel like my Minnesota heart has been feasting on it for four days and that was far more than I would ever have thought to ask for.

And it's February.  Soon there will be daffodils.  No, I'm not afraid of the weather killing the daffodils, because Oregon daffodils also have Minnesota hearts, and they don't mind the snow at all.

Quote of the Day:
Teenager: Sometimes you have those days. . .today was one of them. . .one of those days when you just sit there thinking, "EVERYONE is an idiot."
Me: More tea?
Teenager: I would LOVE another cup of tea! I declare I feel like I'm trying to drown my sorrows in tea!
[If I did hashtags this would be #drowningmamaindrama]


  1. Oh, I am 34 years old, and never once have I shoveled a walk, or thrown crumbs on snow for birds, so like Jenny, If given the chance, I would have to jump at the opportunity to try something I've only ever read about in books :)

  2. Of course, as soon as we move to England, this happens...

  3. Every mother is glad for a principal's wife who intercedes on behalf of the moms and 16-year-old drivers. Maslow says "safety" is the most basic human need. In other words, nothing else matters much if safety is not present. In the context of school, no lesson matters as much as safety. We had two snow days last week, and I'm seriously thinking today should be another one. No such luck. We had four inches of overnight snow on top of 12 inches from last week. Although the roads have been plowed, very little has melted, and this new snow has begun to fill in between the plowed banks. I will venture out with prayer, and probably, in spite of that, a great deal of trepidation.

  4. I stumbled onto Tea & Trouble Brewing when it was free on Amazon. As a Christian mom with four teenagers I found myself nodding and shrieking with delight as I read about your family's adventures...kind of that "I'm not alone" feeling, I guess. I wanted to know if you'd written anything else, so I googled your name and found your blog. I started back at the beginning and have worked my way up to 2007. I still have a ways to go...

    We're in Maine, and much of my delight over winter has worn off by now. But I'm sure if I transplanted to a state that didn't have Maine-like winters, I would miss the snow and rejoice when it came. Right now, those daffodils sound nice, but we still have a long time before they get here.

  5. The Minnesota girl in me comes out also when we have these snows in Oregon--though I'm always glad when the snow leaves after a short while. Had great fun sledding down the driveway on Friday with the grandkids and even crunching through that top layer of icy stuff on Saturday and Sunday. It's nice to have both the snow and the early daffodils!
    Sue R.

  6. I really like your snow pictures. Since you like snow so much, you should be in northern Indiana this winter. We've had so much snow that my husband had to use the loader on our tractor to move piles of snow to make room for more piles of snow. We've had sub-zero weather as well. Sounds like Minnesota weather, doesn't it? Loved that you made a snow angel.

  7. This made me smile! Up until a few years ago, I lived in Oregon and felt this same way every time it snowed or even hinted at snow! I was rejoicing when everyone was grumbling at the white stuff! Finally, 2 and a half years ago, I moved to Alaska (where I said I would NEVER live, but God knew all along) and got snow, snow, snow!! (And the wonderful man of God I'm now married to!) Thankful for God's MANY blessings! And thankful you got some snow days!

  8. Oh Dorcas, I just loved this post! I think I must have been born with a Minnesota (or maybe Nordic) heart for I LOVE snow too!
    LOVED this line "...Oregon daffodils also have Minnesota hearts, and they don't mind the snow at all."
    Still savoring every minute of our beautiful snow, but like you, looking forward to spring and daffodils:)

  9. This fellow Minnesota girl speaks my heart!
    -Theresa, an Oregon transplant from MN

  10. I too have enjoyed these days of snow and even the beautiful ice covering everything. The Midwest has had (and still has) a tough winter with lots of subzero temps.. I was glad to this reminder of home, but now it's time to pick up all the branches and tree limbs that broke from the weight of the ice.

  11. This post reminds me of when I taught school in Oregon it started to snow one day. My little schoolboys came in yelling, "It's sticking, it's sticking, Sister Luci!" I looked at them blankly. Doesn't snow always stick? Not in Oregon, I guess. :) Happy snow days. Or is it gone by now? ~Luci