Lessons From The Snow
Its been snowing in Portland since Saturday and now we have about a foot on the ground. I know that
most of you consider Oregon a northern state and you thus assume that we always get a lot of snow, but such is not the case. Its been five years since we've gotten an appreciable snowfall, and 40 since we've had this big of a storm.
Because we don't get snow very often, it is not cost-effective to maintain a lot of equipment to clear it. So despite the fact that the city employees work very hard to plow roads, they simply can't do enough in a situation like this. And most motorists don't bother with buying chains. After all, if you only need them once every five years or so, there are more compelling things to put in the budget.
So I've been mostly stuck at home with a houseful of people, a sort of early Christmas house party. Yesterday, going a bit stir-crazy, we all walked down to the Daily, which, thank you God, was open. All pedestrians walked down the tire tracks in the street as the sidewalks are just too drifted with snow to allow easy passage. Later, we found chains in the basement and spent an hour digging the car out and putting them on. Um, when I say "we" I mean the royal we because I wasn't about to get anywhere near a snow shovel.
And did I mention that I only started my Christmas shopping on Friday? In a panic, I started ordering things online. Since then, I've gotten notice that the packages have been shipped but none have arrived on my doorstep. You think its because planes haven't been flying in and out of PDX? Or because even trucks with chains on them are getting stuck on the snowy streets? Hmmm, I wonder.
You'd think I'd be getting tons of writing done, what with being snowbound and all. Think again–all this is incredibly distracting. And, I will admit, lots of fun. But while I may not have been writing much, I have, of course been thinking. What follows are my profound Thoughts having to do with snow. And writing, of course.
1. It will all be okay. So the presents don't arrive in time, at least the kids are old enough to understand why. I'll wrap up cards that tell what they were supposed to get. Or we'll have another dinner later and unwrap the real presents. There's not a lot I can do about it, so why spend energy worrying about it?
2. Details are what make the story. We know this. Of course we know this. But it is one thing to hear on the radio that buses are having a hard time navigating the streets and yet another to talk to my son and have him tell me that he saw 10 buses stuck in the snow on his way home yesterday. Or to talk to my sister who was riding a bus this morning and just as she answered my call it got stuck and everyone had to get off. The whole lot of them walked off looking for a new bus and when it came, it was so full it zoomed on past. Aren't those details more interesting than the bland radio report?
3. Stepping away from the computer is good for the soul. Shocking, I know, but since we've been having our non-stop house party every night we drink wine, eat dinner, and watch a Christmas movie. News flash: this is fun. Even more fun than hanging out on my computer, writing. Amazing the things you learn in a pinch.
4. Showing up is what counts. You might not finish the whole damn novel, but you can write a scene of it. Or a paragraph. Or even a sentence. I know, I beat this drum constantly and loudly but over the last couple of days I've seen again how effective it is to spend even a minute or two with whatever project you are lovingly shepherding. What with the tumult in the house, I've been hard-pressed to find time for my client's projects, let alone my passion projects. But spending a half hour with Emma Jean yesterday reminded me why I strive to make time to work on my novel–and it made me feel like I'd accomplished something so I could go watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation without guilt.
That is it, the sum total of my Thoughts after being cooped up for four days. But, hark, the sun is out and could it be I just saw a drip coming off the roof? Never mind that the forecast calls for more snow tonight…