Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Snow is a matter of perspective

When Salem and some other parts of Oregon received snow yesterday, it was a rare occurrence. While other parts of the country may be used to a “white Christmas,” the last time it snowed here for Christmas was 17 years ago — and the last time it received more than an inch of snow was 70 years ago.

For any of us who have grown up in more wintry climates, it was a reminder of what winter is like in other places.

For those who grew up in the Willamette Valley, or other places with similar mild winter temperatures, the snow seemed more like a miracle.

When I had moved here in 2003, my neighbors had laughed when I unpacked snow shovels from the moving truck. They explained those wouldn’t be needed, and few people owned a shovel around here.

A few months later, after Christmas, we received a big snowstorm and an ice storm that toppled trees. I was one of the rare people on the block that could dig out the neighbors’ sidewalks, driveways and the street as various vehicles and even a UPS truck with chains on its tires got stuck that time.

No matter where you live in the country, one thing is for certain. Whenever there is unusual weather, it brings neighbors together — we meet in the street to talk about the odd weather and we support each other if needed.

In the countryside, after big storms, neighbors would check on each other and offer to help. A lot of the farmers — included my family — always wanted to go for a drive to see how everyone else had fared.

While we were under a snow advisory from the weather office, we didn’t have enough snow here yesterday to trigger the need for emergency help; in fact, most of us didn’t even have enough snow on the ground to roll up a snowman.

But at least it was enough snow to create a few fond memories for people, especially kids experiencing their first white Christmas.

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