Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We've had snow here in Portland for the better part of two weeks. It's a record breaking event and the local media have made the most of it. "Arctic Blast" scream the eyewitness headlines. Apparently these local reporters and anchors think we need them to tell us it's snowing and that snow melts into slush and that we should be careful traveling about. I could see five minutes or even ten at most every hour to supplement the scrolling of traffic information, school closures and the like at the bottom of the screen.
But what is this need to make a few snow storms into a major media event?
I've noticed a few other things that stood out when the white replaced the earth tones, pavement, and concrete normally forming the backdrop of the city. Each neighborhood retains it's own version of snow covered streets. In my NE section, the side streets remain icy and crunchy alternately. People walk on small paths or trails that have appeared in front of houses or near sidewalks. I've seen lots of folks on cross country skis or snow shoes. A family went on an outing to the grocery store pulling their two kids on a sled while they skied in front and behind.
Taking buses around had been revealing. People in this town are overwhelmingly friendly. Bus drivers, some working 18-20 hours a stint, keep their cool, assist, disseminate information and get you from here to there when they can. In the dicey areas, especially downtown near skid row areas, the sidewalk paths are dotted with yellowy brown pock marks: nicotine leeches out from the butts below. And the people...the people dress for the snow with all the grace or lack thereof, as always. Aside from those trying to maneuver in tennis shoes or sweat suits, I saw a person yesterday who looked more like the San Diego Chicken in pajamas than someone out for a winter's walk. I, myself, have adopted the unibomber look, (see photo) as this allows my ears to be covered as well as keeping my favorite hat of the day dry. My photo-gray lenses have been going nuts with all the white flashing back.
Katie has adopted the burka look, (see photo) this also prevents the spread of germs. I've seen some spectacularly looking women dressed for the sub-freezing weather too. Right off the catwalk. All color-coordinated. sexy, and aloof, they glide through these days with the ease of a swan. Finally there are those poor schlumps who, try as they might, always manage to have a snot icicle hanging from their noses. Today the snow turned to freezing rain and it appears to be morphing into regular old Portland rain right now. That means the big meltdown is about to begin. In a couple of hours it'll be dark and then ice will form. Wonder what will be an appropriate look for tomorrow? Oh yeah, it's Christmas.