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It’s an event when it snows around Portland, Oregon. Most of us don’t know how to drive in snow. And the city is not all that well equipped to keep things running smoothly, though they give it the ole college try. And they provide fair warning:

If you choose to drive, stay with your vehicle in a snow and ice storm. Any abandoned vehicle is subject to being cited and impounded. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.

People who move here from snowier climes are quick to rain on our parade. They think we’re ridiculous. But come one. Let us have a couple snow days in winter.

We get wall-to-wall news coverage with inclement weather, reporters sliding around in their shiny new boots–and the same scenes play over and over of cars piling up at the bottom of some slight incline. And god forbid they catch some poor person falling while on foot: the agony of embarrassment, if not injury, repeated ad nauseum–all the way over to England, it seems.

Everyone has something to say. Me, I’m in the camp that still believes it’s wondrous and exciting and that we’re going to get out of doing some. (I swear, if I had an audience with the Queen and it got cancelled at the last moment, I’d be clicking my heels. Does everyone do this, or just introverts?)

Portland style snowpocalypse.
Portland style snowpocalypse.

Snow makes everything gorgeous, and I still get a childlike thrill at sight of the first flake. Besides, it’s usually over in a couple of days. Sadly, however, our common transition out of snow is dreaded freezing rain. There’s nothing fun about that–gardening pals pictures notwithstanding.  I didn’t say it wasn’t beautiful, just not fun–and it’s treacherous.

snow alert

At the start of the snow, we’re all pretty excited. Watching out the window, reporting every new flakes we see. Taking pictures of the zillions of birds who flock the feeders. Even our birds think it’s an amazing event–and they get busy filling their gullets. In my mind’s ear, I hear my brother David, up in Olympia, Washington, hollering like he did when we were kids: I saw it first.

the birdies got in high gear. here a Northern Flicker and Townsend Warbler share the suet.
The birdies get in high gear. Here a Northern Flicker and Townsend Warbler share the suet.

We have two hummingbird feeders, but that’s apparently not enough. Squabbles ensued.

It was a busy contest between the hummingbirds.
It was a busy contest between the hummingbirds.

Even the four-legged animals like to get in on the fun.

Mister helping Bill take snowy bird pictures.
Mister helping Bill managing his lens while photographing the birds.

Pumpkin loves the snow, too. It’s her kind of weather–despite the fact that she blows her undercoat at the start of winter. She’s half her normal self, but doesn’t seem to mind.

Pumpkin thinks snow is terrific.
Pumpkin thinks snow is terrific.

Then reality sets in. Even after a couple of days, the house started feeling mighty full. My husband Bill and son Elliot both worked from home on Monday. I was glad they didn’t drive after proclaiming, “Oh, it’s fine.” This from the men who are constantly telling me that all other drivers are idiots. Mind you, this extra work from home day was tagged onto the holiday break. So we’d been together quite a bit. All I’m saying…

Tuesday, the guys both skidded their cars down our driveway–and suddenly, the house was quite. Hallelujah. Except for Pumpkin; come nine o’clock, regular as rain, she was bonkers for her walk. She could break anyone with her maniacal persistence–way worse than public radio pledge break.

And that’s when I first realized, there’s no way to get to street level from our yard except via the driveway. In this case, a sheet of ice several days running. We have a decent-sized back yard, all fenced, so plenty of space for the pooch to run around. BUT THAT’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Our backyard is 70' X 70' & fenced.
Our backyard is 70′ X 70′ & fenced.

But I’ll tell ya, breaking a shoulder and smacking your head on the sideway can turn a person downright cautious. Yesterday, the driveway was thawed enough to tread, and I was so glad. I couldn’t have taken another day of Pumpkin frantically insisting we go for a walk.

The good news, when we finally got out there, some plants were looking pretty okay. I don’t know about you, but I’m quick to throw in the towel when it gets cold and dark and generally miserable outside: if it dies–it was an annual.

Next week, I’ll share some of those pleasant surprises, and my reawakening interest in gardening. I’d love to hear about yours too.

Here’s one little sneak peek. This Farfugium has been such a stellar plant year round. I bought it at Garden Fever at their 40% off end-of-season sale last year. It was essentially a pot of dirt. Aren’t plants amazing?

Farfugium japonicum 'Aureomaculatum' -- the little Leopard Plant that could.
Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculatum’ — the little Leopard Plant that could.