Portland is on its third day of snow. We are a city ill-suited to snow. Most people don’t know how to drive in it. We have lots of hills that are quite steep and can get slippery, we have bridges that get icy, and we have snow so seldom, there is no huge fleet of snow removal equipment nor deep knowledge of living with snow. I hunker down and so does my best friend, and we are both from snow country. She’s from Buffalo, I am from the Northwoods of Minnesota. We know snow.
I remember the first snowfall after I moved to Oregon. I was living way up in the Cascades, in a river valley, closed in my mountains, a deep canyon that ranged from 1/4 to a few miles wide. There were places where the road was carved into the canyon cliffs, with a fall down into the river below and there were wider valleys that made room for truck farming, but life centered on logging. It was rural, so I was surprised when I got a call saying school was closed and there was just a dusting of snow, barely two inches. I thought it was a prank and went to school anyway, discovering it was closed. Deciding to take advantage of a weekday off, I decided to drive to the State Capitol and take a tour.
It was then I discovered why they closed school for a light snowfall. Driving up one of the big hills, the traffic was so slow the cars lacked the speed that would keep them from sliding backwards, pulled by gravity on the slick highway. It was quite frightening, more frightening than anything that had ever happened to me in a car before. I managed to avoid them as I chugged up the hill, but it was nerve-wracking. I am sure they thought I was a speedster, but really, I just understood the laws of physics.