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Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Grass is always Browner: Appreciate What You Have

For those of you in those areas I vaguely remember that lay east of the Rockies, you may be experiencing something right now called "winter". Snow, ice, sub-freezing temperatures. I know all this, not by looking at a weather website, but by looking at various bike blogs I follow. For example, here are dispatches from Lovely Bicycle (Boston), Let's Go Ride A Bike (Chicago), Biking in Heels (Boston agin), Ding Ding Let's Ride (Chicargo agin), 30th Century Bike (Iowa City)*, and on and on.

At first, I was getting envious and jealous of all the snow and snow biking. As I've said here before, we barely get snow here, so I don't get much chance to try it. And from a machismo standpoint** biking in the snow is still considered tough. Riding in the rain is sort of tough, but not really once you start doing it.

But then I remember how fleeting the beauty of snow lasts, at least in cities where people expect to be mobile within a day or so of a major snowfall. The beautiful undisturbed pure white snow changes to gray, as salt and sand encrust everything. Slush and icy puddles. Snow lingering longer than you want, and when you want spring to be here, the inevitable late March/early April snowstorm occurs. And the worst of the worst: giant snow piles in suburban parking lots, that take months to melt. I remember seeing these dirt encrusted "land icebergs" in late April, shopping carts sticking out, slowly melting away.

And now I have nothing to be envious of. In Portland we're getting our first batch of truly good weather this year. Sunny skies, low wind, and daytime temperatures in the 50's F (10-15 C). Nothing to complain about.

And the little things, or rather the big thing: a great view of Mount Hood from the east flank of Mount Tabor, snapped on my afternoon bike ride to work on Saturday:

Even after 10 years of living in Portland, it never fails to amaze me that we live in such natural splendor. On a clear day in winter, we can see Mount Hood plus four other snow-capped mountains: St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Jefferson.*** I will never get sick of this.

And now this nice weather is making me itch for a good day-long bike ride. It's not in the cards for the next few days due to work and a deadline art assignment. But hopefully things will hold out until Tuesday. And then April and I will take a little cruise.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? Getting through winter OK?

*As far as I know, there are no bands named Iowa City...yet.
**Hopefully the only time I will use this phrase on this blog.
***Mount Hood is the easiest mountain to see, followed by St. Helens. Mount Adams is only visible from certain points in Portland, along with Rainier and Jefferson, which is very hard to see.


  1. Yes, snow gets old quickly in Chicago. No need to covet our weather. However, I continue to kinda wish I lived in Portland, even though everyone there is always complaining about the rain. :)

  2. We have to complain about the rain to scare away the Californians! Gov. Tom McCall made that a law in 1970.

  3. Enjoy your weather and your beautiful views. But if you get the urge to be all macho (and cold, damp and covered in grimy slush) come on out for a visit! ;-)

  4. Oh, April and myself should be visiting Chicago at some point this year. But most likely after y'all have thawed out! ;-)

  5. Having grown up in Seattle, now living in Boston, I think I can appreciate this post from the inverse. It is much easier, in my opinion, to ride bundled up for 20 degree weather than to trek through the rain for what feels like an eternity.

    Nevertheless, it was 1 degree (F) this morning when I woke up, with the wind chill factor, -20. Some days I long...

  6. Colin, I used to think that too (bundling up for cold than deal with rain.) Then I went to mostly wool clothing in the winter. Now rain doesn't bother me much. Having a waterproof bag is a must. Nothing sucks more than getting books/paper/etc wet in a commute.


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