Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seattle snow adventures

We went to bed last night while the snow was still falling thick outside--huge snowflakes illuminated in the glow of the streetlight, so many of them blowing sideways in the wind that we could hardly see the houses across MLK. When we awoke this morning, we had an inch or so of snow on our block, and the sheet of ice coating our street gleamed.

It's not much by the standards of many wintry locales, but for Seattle it was stupendous. Any little thing seems more glorious, in this Pacific Northwest native's experience, when it takes place against an icy, snowy backdrop. So today I had two "adventures" in the snow:

1. Having run out of time during our busy day yesterday, this morning my best-beloved and I still had some basic grocery needs. Eyeing the slick little hill of our street, we opted to walk to the grocery store, about a mile and a half round trip. We each wore a little backpack for hauling home our supplies. Sidewalks proved treacherous for most of the way, so we tramped along their margins in the snow where footing was more secure. Mittens and scarves proved useful, and wearing my bicycling headband under my knit cap helped keep my ears safe from the bitter wind that was blowing. We were out for about an hour in the cold, and although it was just a little jaunt, the setting made it feel like a true expedition.

2. Coming home from work tonight I had two bus routes to choose from. I hopped on the first one that came along, forgetting that it was probably rerouted at the hill behind my house. Sure enough, the bus stopped short of its descent back into the valley. "This is it," the driver said; "they aren't sending us down that hill."

We last three passengers disembarked and began trudging down the steep-ish hill. The roadway was clear and dry, while the sidewalk was frozen over; keeping an eye out for cars, I opted to walk in the street instead of skidding down the sidewalk. The newly waning moon loomed in the clear sky above us. We paused to let a couple of police cars go wailing and blazing up the hill past us to calls unknown.

We all had made it about two blocks down the hill when we saw a different bus heading up our very hill. I grumbled under my breath about the apparent contradiction between drivers' attitudes, but I should have had more faith. The next thing I knew, the bus we had just left made the turn and headed downhill after us.

When she caught up to us, she stopped and opened the door to let us back on. "I guess we can make it down after all!" she said. "They told me before just to stop at Cloverdale, but I saw that other bus coming up and I went, 'All right, I'm going to go get my people.'" Chains rattling all the way, the bus inched down the hill. The lovely driver let me off just a block from home, and I walked back to coziness and warm food waiting.