So we’ve finally had it. The Big One. The Perfect Storm (Western Washington version). The utter catastrophe the TV stations breathlessly threatened/promised every fall and winter since at least 1991.
I won’t disparge the impact this has had on the homeless (who deserve a better lot in life year round).
And the big snow’s timing has left thousands unable to leave or enter the area for holiday reunions; not to mention leaving already-troubled retailers bereft of holiday shoppers.
And, no matter what week it occurs, a snow like this will be tough for car commuters and truck shippers. This time, it also hit bus and train travelers hard.
But damn if it isn’t the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
And the most joyous.
The first non-sticky flakes of Saturday the 13th were all the “white Christmas” miracle I’d come to expect here in the ol’ Puget Sound convergence zone. It was lite; it was white; it went away.
The local newscasts (which, like their counterparts on stations across the country, are built and budgeted exactly for these huge visual-crisis moments) promised/threatened an even huger blast the following Wednesday.
It didn’t happen.
Those of us who’d been through this in the past figured, “Ah, of course. They’ll always threaten but not deliver.”
Then, in the predawn hours of Thursday, the big snow came.
And came some more.
For four days.
Without getting into crude sexual puns, let me simply state how much I’ve loved it.
As I’ve written here in the past, snow in Seattle is a rare treat. It turns us all into children. Most of us can’t do our normal daily dreary work lives. All we can do is play, and coccoon, and enjoy the company of whoever’s closest to us, and reconnect with those in our most immediate vicinity.
And enjoy the blanket of pure precipitory wonder.
But by this point, even a Snow Miser like me feels a little melancholy while walking through the winter wonderland.
Can there be such a thing as too much beauty, too much joy?
When does it turn into, as the cliche goes, a “great and terrible beauty”?
Sooner for many other people than for me, that’s for sure.
But now, I’m starting to feel the ten-day itch.
At some point, any holiday from the ordinary must conclude.
Lovers who’ve ignored the world beyond one another’s arms must resume doing whatever they do to stay fed. Children must return to school. Trucks must be able to get stuff to and from us. The wheels of commerce must turn again.
But the visceral memories remain—of street sledding on flattened cardboard boxes, of mugs of cocoa or Irish coffee thawing frozen fingers, of strangers becoming instant allies inthe great adventure, of our normal wintery dim grey turned blinding white.
A final thought: It just so happened that this snowapalooza occurred around and on the solstice, the day after which everything becomes just a little brighter. This has been the last winter solstice of the Bush era; the economy’s in the undisputed dumps, the nation’s civic fabric is in tatters, but the hope of better times already beckons.