It snowed yesterday in Seattle, and while I know that this is nothing new to the vast swath of the country affected by the polar vortex, it’s still a remarkable occurrence for this fair city, and people are behaving accordingly.
Yesterday afternoon, I dragged my lazy bones outside to walk to a couple of grocery stores. I like to do this on Saturday afternoons. For one thing, I’m able to put some mileage down, which I haven’t been doing enough of since temperatures dropped into the 20s and I decided not to leave the house after getting home from work. For two, it’s not like I’m buying the essentials like cat litter, milk, or any other large and/or heavy thing that I’d need my car to haul home. For three, I know I posted that thing about not spending any more money than necessary, but as a non-married person with no children or mortgage, I am comfortable with buying fancy groceries on occasion, and if the tradeoff is having to walk all the way there and walk part of the way back while carrying my purchases like a pack mule, then so be it. Bring on the organic snacks.
Trader Joe’s – where I went because I wanted more dark chocolate peanut butter cups and Graham asked for savory snack mix – was a little nuts, but to be fair, it’s always a little nuts. It probably didn’t have anything to do with the snow, although it’s hard to tell in a city where this hardly ever happens. I mean, it’s not like the Midwest, when even if you don’t watch the news, you know that snow is coming because the store is out of bread, milk and eggs (hey, St. Louis, you know that french toast isn’t actually a survival food, right?).
Ballard Market is always a little more calm, and I saw more people stocking up in the bulk candy and beer aisles than anywhere else in the store. Which is exactly the way it should be in case of snow, in my opinion, so St. Louis, please take note.
The flurries started just as I was getting off the bus, and within an hour, there was accumulation. By the time I walked to the market across the street from our house, people were sliding all over the parking lot and whooping like children.
While this shouldn’t be a big deal, it’s worth understanding that not only does it never snow here, but Seattle is also built on hills. And I mean hills. There are signs on some hills that advise drivers not to attempt them in case of snow. You get to a certain point and gravity just takes over, and I hope you know how to slide backwards because that’s exactly what you’re going to do. Seattle shuts down in the snow, which feels a little bit necessary but also a little bit silly, although I suppose that above all, it feels quiet and private and wintery, which I have to admit I’d been missing since moving here (although maybe ask me how I feel tomorrow after I attempt my work commute in a city that famously can’t drive in the first place but gets downright apocalyptic in the snow).
Later last night, I went for a walk with Graham, Luke and Courtney and we saw that the buses already had tire chains on. The few people out driving were going very slowly and doing that wave thing, the one that people in cities do only when there’s ridiculous weather or some other disaster and they suddenly feel this “we’re all in this together” sort of bond. You know, the kind that, in cities where there’s serious snowfall, compels total strangers to get out of their cars and help push someone out of an icy patch. It may not be that dire here, but it’s kind of heart-warming to see it acknowledged that we are all neighbors here.
There’s about an inch on the ground now with a 30% chance of snow today. I know, Midwest. I know. But for Seattle this is something, and it still feels like a snow day, and I’m glad I got all my snacks and beer when the time was right.