I’ve lived in Seattle since 1998. Since then, we’ve only had one season of appreciable snowfall. Though it did manage to snow most years, there wasn’t much in the city and it didn’t last. This year is different. We had about 6 inches a few days ago and due to continuing freezing weather, the city has been virtually closed down since then. Buses don’t run (in fact two charter buses slid down an embankment, rammed through a guardrail and came to a stop dangling perilously over Interstate 5). People skip work. Schools are closed. In other places more used to such weather like the Midwest, life would go on. Not here.
Our city doesn’t own snow plows (or not many). It wouldn’t be cost effective for the one time a year you might use them. As a result, the city pretty much shuts down when more than a few inches fall. After that first storm a few days ago, tonight the snow started falling again. We’re expecting perhaps another 8 inches in the city. And the forecast doesn’t predict a warming trend for a week. So there’s no end in sight.
What’s great about this is that last year I bought my son a wonderful wood sled (see illustration) for Hanukah. Being lazy about getting the family into the Cascades (I cross country ski but my wife doesn’t), I wasn’t sure when he’d ever be able to use it. Well, use it he has every day for the past three days. The runs down the hilly streets in our neighborhood which fronts on Lake Washington are pretty fantastic. The rides have been wild.
It reminds me a great deal of my childhood in New York, when my dad brought us to his hometown, Haverstraw, where we would sled down a virtual luge run on the Hudson Avenue hill where the Civil War monument stood. I can remember so many kids had gone down the run that it was molded on either side by hardened snow that guaranteed you’d go downhill fast and not have any major crackups. I can remember tearing down that hill time after time and enjoying the winter weather for hours. Hard-earned childhood fun.
My four year old twins aren’t as hearty as I. They don’t like wearing heavy coats. They don’t like the chill and go inside after a few minutes. My daughter will only go down the hill on the sled with another neighbor girl and her mother. Not with daddy. My seven year old son will share a ride with daddy. And we have a blast. But what’s with the four year-olds? How can they not get that this is for them the chance of a lifetime. We may not have snow like this here in Seattle until they’re teenagers.