Reflections on a Seattle Snow

If you were like me this last December, you were crossing your fingers and doing a snow dance in hopes that it would snow on Christmas Day. I heard that the odds of it snowing in Seattle on Christmas Day were .05% and although the snow came the day after Christmas, I was still charmed by its arrival and the neighborhood sledding, snowballs and excuse to cross country ski to the corner store, that our better-late-than-never, late December snow brought with it.

This late in the pandemic, I’ve learned to really appreciate the smiles on my neighbors’ faces. It was nice to walk around the neighborhood and share a moment of snowy banality. Feeling inspired, I thought it would be nice to walk around town and take some pictures of some of our snow-covered local scenery. One non-snow/ice obstacle I encountered while taking pictures around town was the power lines that obscured the view of the snow-covered buildings I wanted to take.  If I got close enough to the buildings I could avoid the lines, but I needed a wide lens to get the shots I wanted. For $35 dollars I rented a wide-angle lens from Glazers in SLU. The staff there was really helpful and made the suggestion that if I wanted less distortion from the close shot with a wide angle, I could stand on a ladder. Appreciating that the folks there trusted that I wouldn’t break their very nice (expensive) lens while balancing on a ladder, I set off to take some pictures.

Walking around the steep Eastlake hills, like a hobbit attempting to sneak past the dragon Smog, I noticed a number of cars that had slid off the road. I chatted with one neighbor who was examining her wayward-car-smashed hedge, as we watched another car skirt around the sandwich boards warning drivers of icy hazards. While we bore witness to this example of innocent recklessness, she sighed and said, “…it doesn’t take that much brain power to drive down to Fairview and double back to get down the hill.”  She was lighthearted however, and I think we both could agree the arrival of snow offered some respite, even finding some enjoyment in complaining about the icy hazards.

Thankfully, we can all appreciate that the snow in Seattle typically doesn’t last too long.  I have to stop and think of what snow is like for people shoveling driveways in Michigan.  Regarding our temperature in comparison to the Midwest, I’m reminded of the story of David Denny freezing cold in his Illinois cabin as he came to the end of his last Chicago winter and shoveling his driveway for the last time, before finally saying to his family, “…that’s it! We’re moving to Seattle!” (or something like that)*. The snow lasted just long enough for me to clear the walkways around our apartments only twice, and I got by using a half leftover bag of pet friendly ice-melt.

While I was enchanted by the late 2021 December snow, I couldn’t help noticing that at one point during the storm the temperature got as low as 19 degrees. This in comparison to the 108-degree temperatures that we got in June may not be that alarming when compared to places like Chicago, however in Seattle, an area known for its Pacific regulated temperate climate, the shift is at least worth our notice.

There seems to be no shortage of things for me to be concerned about these days, all of which has been compounded by isolation.  It was nice to take a break from worrying and walk around in the snow, my only concern being my next icy step.

* (For those of you who are sticklers.)  Actually, the Dennys were from Cherrysville, Illinois, there was no Seattle at the time, and the first place they moved to was Alki, which their fellow travelers dubiously named “New York.”  Nonetheless, that they were sick of shoveling snow from out of the front of their Illinois log cabin every winter morning was one of many motivating factors that drew them to the west coast. (According to Four Wagons West by Roberta Frye Watt)

Feature photo of Roger’s Playground by the author.

Written by Eugene Callahan

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