Friday and Saturday, 12 & 13-Feb-2021
Portland doesn’t really see much winter. Sure, there’s a dusting of snow once or twice. Every few years a bit of accumulation, maybe. But nothing that sticks around for very long, and temperatures almost never get below freezing. Wilsonville’s a bit further South, and farther from the river, so we see even less out here.
Less doesn’t mean none, though.
This time, we got ice. Not a little ice either, but quite a lot of ice. Tree-snapping, power-line breaking, road closing and car enshrouding ice. Multiple inches thick, solid accumulating ice.
It was quite a surprise, actually. I’ve gotten so used to the regular weather of Oregon (sun in the summer, rain in the winter) that I don’t really even look at the weather reports. If I bike in the summer, I don’t bring rain gear. If I bike in the winter, I wear the rain gear regardless. It’s simple and predictable.
When I heard trees starting to shatter on Thursday night… well, that’s not quite what I expected to hear on Thursday night.
When I got going in the morning, the first order of business was to sneak outside and assess the damage… mostly because I’m understandably paranoid about my freshly-repaired convertible… since everyone knows that Mustangs, while clearly the coolest thing on the road, aren’t particularly resilient to falling trees. You know, unarmored canvas tops and all.
Thankfully, while quite a few limbs had fallen nearby (or slid into the car, in some cases) no real damage was to be found. The real issue was the sidewalks – with so many trees and limbs down, most of the roads and sidewalks around my place were impassable.
The roads were out of my reach – the trees fallen across the roads were huge, and fell in ways that weren’t safe for me to try and remove without power tools and far more experience than I have.
The sidewalks, however… those were small enough branches that my axe and I could do some solid work. A quick breakfast was had, and then branches were hacked apart by the energized Ben. Partially energized by the breakfast, but mostly energized by finally having a chance to swing an axe for a good cause!
With all of that completed, I put all the tools away and set out for a bit of a winter wonderland walk.
With rain gear secured, and a helmet on my head to protect against the constant icefall from the trees, I headed out into the great Wilsonville arctic wilderness! My first stop was exploring the nearby park, though on the way I ran into a few other adventurous souls exploring around, and we even grouped up to pull a few of the larger branches out of the streets and off of the sidewalks… but overall, I saw almost no one on my wanderings – the park was beautifully quiet, though the ever present sound of icefall and snapping tree limbs did keep me pretty well focused on the present.
It was really nice, honestly, and quite helpful for keeping a present mind. Which makes sense, since… you know… falling tree limbs and such.
I wandered, explored, enjoyed taking photos, and greatly appreciated the chance to feel the cold. It’s been ages since it’s really felt like winter…
In Oregon, winter almost always stays in its little box up in the mountains, which can be nice when you’re commuting, but it definitely leaves me feeling a little sad and stuck. I’ve missed waking up to a snowstorm, to snow days, and to forging around town through the cold on a completely unnecessary quest to get some silly thing to cook for dinner. It’s not about the destination, but it’s about forging out into the cold, and feeling like an intrepid explorer!
Thanks to this unexpected ice storm, I got to relive a bit of that adventure – and even better, it was all melted away by the time I had to get in the car and drive to work on Monday morning.
I guess there can be some advantages to winter staying in its corner, after all.