Thursday, December 21, 2006


Yesterday's blizzard has mellowed but the two feet of snow has disrupted life here in Colorado. We made national headlines - even NPR squeezed us in between a dead Turkmenistan president and Baghdad's suicide bomb o' the day. I received worrisome calls this morning from all over the country, mostly warm places – friends worried about how a lone California woman will fare in her first Rocky Mountain winter.

Honestly, I couldn't be more thrilled. This is precisely the stark lifestyle difference I was looking for. Mind you, it was great growing up in Southern California but there was something very 'Groundhog Day' about it, weather-wise. It was basically 75 degrees all the time – small variations on the same damn day throughout the year. It used to feel quite wrong going to the beach in December, though I did it anyway. Christmas lights in palm trees? Not the same effect. (Xmas in Australia, in the middle of their broiling hot summer, has to be particularly annoying.)

Years later, I (with the help of famed grumpster, Tamburlaine) finally put my finger on my own irritation with this bland weather menu. The perpetual Sunny Day was an implicit forced happiness that often didn't jibe with my moods. There was an unspoken sentiment, "Hey! It's sunny outside! Go on and get happy!" Holy fuck. It used to drive me nuts. My parents – Dad from South Dakota and Mom from North Dakota – did not understand this and probably thought us ungrateful, I'm sure. Thankfully, my brother is the same as I. He now lives in Mississippi and cannot get enough lightning and thunderstorms to make up for the past without.

San Francisco was a big improvement in weather variety. I used to love watching the fog roll in over my city at the end of the day like a big misty blanket. There was no pressure to be joyful-on-command. I could be moody and arty if I so desired, or I could be bliss-ridden, but at least it would be my own choice.

When I heard that Gov. Owens had declared a State of Emergency today, I was shocked. Honestly, I thought this was normal, exactly the scenario I'd pictured. No State of Emergency I've ever experienced was this beautiful. Mostly involving earthquake devastation or race riots, I'm used to crumbled freeways or intersection violence, not something that looks like an idyllic Christmas card.

It is quite amazing to be in a major metropolitan city that is entirely shut down (minus the city-hosted sledding parties.) There is that feeling of abrupt self-sufficiency with a lovely tinge of anarchy. I felt this during the LA riots and my brother felt it even more intensely post-Katrina. He and his wife took a boat out on the bayou the day after the storm and could hardly believe their eyes and, of course, their ears: complete devastation and total silence. Though we worried about them, they did just fine. "You know I love that urban survival shit," my brother assured me.

Of course, my snowbound giddiness is lessened by the knowledge that 5,000 of my fellow Coloradans are stuck at Denver International Airport (DIA) and that the National Guard is there now, delivering blankets and diapers. I mean, it's one thing to have your flight cancelled or endure a long layover but jeezus, that situation has to be some special kind of Hell. (I fly out on Sunday so we shall soon see how far out this flight disruption goes.)

In yesterday's Denver Post, a reporter observed that nobody was on the streets, except for one tourist couple from Fresno, California. Unfazed by the blizzard, they were out shopping. After watching many a Broncos game on TV, they'd decided to visit Denver for their 10-year wedding anniversary and had no regrets. "We thought it was like this all the time," they said. They were having a blast, which I understood completely. Of course, here's the part where I reiterate my work-at-home status. Not dealing with a commute will surely keep my Snow Love alive and I'll admit, I am feeling great affection for my employer today.

Back in my S. Milwaukee Cave in Washington Park, I live right up against I-25 (sounds so ghetto but it's really quite nice) and am used to seeing traffic go by. At the moment, there is not a soul on the interstate and no cars on the street. Best of all, the snow provides a padded acoustic effect resulting in the softest silence. It is incredibly peaceful. The only sounds in my neighborhood are the snow shovels scraping down sidewalks.

At some point today, I will layer myself up and trudge outside. I will take a little walk, nothing too ambitious, just a block or so. If you see me, by all means, make some Hot Toddies. I'll be the one with the giant grin on her face, intensely happy on my own terms.

1 comment:

Tamburlaine said...

I've been in Iowa for 8 -- EIGHT! -- damn years, since migrating here from the West Coast. And it's still a blast for me when we get a heavy snow. The sky's usually clear up, and the air is unusually clear. The brightness of the winter sun reflects off the snow, bathing everything in incandescent light. On such days I like to go take my friend George and go on a hike.

But I don't usually have to drive, and when I do, it's treacherous. I don't recommend spinning 360s in the middle of major intersections. I've tried it. Totally overated.