As the storm disrupts lives, it also calms us
The snow, wind and ice are nature's way of saying slow down and enjoy your lives
It's amazing how strong an imprint the weather can have on all of us.
Despite plenty of predictions - so we knew what was coming - and relatively balmy conditions at daybreak on Sunday, the winter-like conditions that emerged by mid-Sunday morning had plenty of impact on many of us. For instance:
n For students in Lake Oswego, the winter weather Sunday led to a relatively quick and early decision by school officials to cancel school for Monday. A similar situation Monday beget a similar decision to shut school down for Tuesday. Ditto Wednesday. School officials were deciding closures on a day-to-day basis for today and Friday, but weren't optimistic that classes would resume until the new year. Many students ended up with a jump on the holiday season, no doubt resulting in a few extra smiles.
n For businesses in Lake Oswego, the snow, wind and bone-chilling temperatures couldn't have happened at a worse time. With many stores, shops, restaurants and other businesses counting on the last 10 days before Christmas to bring in the needed revenues to generate some good economic news, just the opposite happened. On Monday, some stores and restaurants didn't or couldn't open. Traffic was light and economic realities were hard to discount.
n For the city of Lake Oswego, the storm brought closures to city facilities Monday. Tuesday, the closure of infamous 'non-essential' services shut down everything from city hall to the adult community center to the tennis center to the West End Building. Roads were a mess for maintenance crews. The fire department worried about getting to some locations and dealing with the ice. Police officers watched as motorists struggled to move around the city, especially in the hilly sections.
n For the residents of Lake Oswego, the storm generated a mixed bag. For some it brought some wonderful down time, family time, social time. People took walks in the snow, played games in front of their fireplaces, sipped hot chocolate and enjoyed each other's company. For others, it was a weary period, with some forced to deal with frozen pipes or disruptions in other services. For low-income people, it represented a period of very tough decisions: Spend limited funds to stay warm or to eat, but maybe not both. For parents with college-age children coming home for the holidays, it represented some long nights and plenty of angst. It's strange how the odysseys from our own younger days seemed so normal, so natural compared to the same type of episodes that our children go through now.
n For adventurers, the cold spell brought excitement on a variety of fronts. Some enjoyed sledding on the various hills around Lake Oswego (although at least one sledder suffered minor injuries that could have been much worse at Lakeridge High School when he struck his head on school bleachers while enjoying the snow). The promise of Oregon's downhill ski areas finally being able to open brought some smiles to skiers' faces. Travelers faced some treacherous driving conditions, whether they stayed in the metro area or headed out in virtually any direction. It's no real secret that winter driving is not the best example of the skill sets of many Portland-area residents. To get on a roadway where the car in front of you is going two miles per hour while the car perched on your back bumper is going 60 is not a comfortable place to be.
n For the nostalgia buffs who grew up in areas that have real winters, there is a certain familiarity to all of this. The Norman Rockwell-winter scene almost comes to life when the city gets dusted with snow. The cold, crisp air, the sound of laughing children throwing snowballs, the light scent of wood burning in fireplaces, plus the interior smells and sights of holiday goodies all conspire to trigger thoughts from our collective pasts.
Snow, wind and ice are nature's way of saying: Slow down, take it easy and enjoy what life is throwing your way.
Our hope from the Review is that as the storm moves on, some of its lessons remain and that many of you were able to sit back, absorb the awesomeness of nature and revel in the holiday spirit. Its impact - just like the weather's - would appear to be quite viable.