Snow taught us limits of quality time

Readers’ Letters

Never again will I pray for snow. Sure, I was thrilled when I peered outside to see flakes falling from our usually rain-filled sky. Yes, I was among the snow-starved Oregonians calling everyone I knew to say, 'It's snowing!'

And looking back, it was pretty nice to abandon my responsibilities and cuddle up with my family to watch the snow fall. But then it kept falling. And falling. And falling. And five days later, still stuck in an increasingly shrinking home, I would have paid anything to see the glorious rain return. I was desperate for the slightest amount of human interaction. I was even beginning to miss the cashier at Starbucks.

The first day of the storm was exciting. There's nothing like 5 inches of snow to bring out the kid in you. Our family eagerly ventured out to let the snowflakes fall on our tongues. But the 18-degree chill brought a quick conclusion to that ambition. Not to worry, we convinced ourselves. We could still cozy up, drink cocoa and stay glued to the television. It was a bit of a relief, really Ñ a welcome break from the holiday bustle. After all, the weatherman promised we could get back to our lives the next day.

Or could we? On Day 2, ice and a 'heat wave' of 20 degrees kept us trapped indoors. Amusing ourselves with board game marathons and guess-the-temperature trivia, we developed a new gratitude for canned food and even began spring cleaning. But I soon ran out of cleaning projects, and it will be some time before I'll play a board game again.

On Day 3, I tried to escape the whole thing. But every TV station was pre-empting programming for their version of 'Winter Blast 2004'; you couldn't call anyone without them asking, 'How about that storm?'; and on the Internet, I was instantly greeted with 'Winter storm shuts down Portland.' This thing was inescapable.

By Day 4, my cabin fever escalated to desperate levels. Our family wore out the term 'quality time,' and we were determined to make it out of the house the next day Ñ no matter what that weatherman said.

It was five days after that first flake fell that I made it out in search of a cure for my cabin fever. The sighting of the mailman, a quick trip to the insanely crowded market and the familiar sound of the Starbucks espresso machine were enough to restore my sanity.

I have learned my lesson. Five days of breadless sandwiches and guess-the-temperature games have changed my mind about snow. I will now pray only for sun and warmth and stimulating conversations with strangers.

Until July, of course, when I'll swear I hate the heat, reflect on how eventful this storm was and begin to pray for snow all over again.

Molly Kline

North Portland

Where's racism?-History holds answer

In response to the letter, 'Where's the racism in the case of the toy gorilla?' (Jan. 2): Quite frankly, this is one of many reasons why there will always be a halfhearted effort to reform any arcane laws or opinions. As a result, African people must be vigilant and use the few tools left to us to protest injustice.

Institutionalized racism is alive and well; as long as everyone pretends things are better and slavery didn't happen, any insult to Africans will be allowed.

The African-American community would be the first to move on if there wasn't a hidden standard by which we are judged. This quick observation is critical to understanding how in 2004 we are still struggling against ignorance from 1704.

We can't afford to forget what people are capable of.

Michele Albert

North Portland