Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The 'Tween Season: Late February in the Pacific Northwest

If you live in the Pacific Northwest (or almost anywhere in North America), aren't you ready for winter to loosen its grip?

Living in a temperate climate here west of the Cascades,  we Mossbacks are spared extreme cold like the frigid polar vortex, but the wet, gray, dark days seem to stretch on too long.  Many of us jet away to warmer, tropical or desert getaways.

By mid-February, however, the days are getting noticeably longer. Hallelujah! So we've got this 'tween thing going on....it's dumping snow in the mountains and throwing major avalanches, while early spring flowers  are in bloom just an hour away in the lowlands. It's wildly diverse.

Yesterday I headed to the mountains for some skiing in the epic snowfall. Over 2 feet of fresh pow! I hoped to be doing this:

But avalanches and downed trees converged to make the day go more like this:

See that line of traffic?  We were turned around less than a mile from the Crystal Mountain turnoff. Mountain closed because a tree knocked out power to the whole mountain. We spent 5 hours driving up and back, covered 160 miles, including a 20-minute wait to use the loo at Wapiti Woolies in Greenwater, and no skiing.


So instead of moping, when I got home I took advantage of a break between storms and headed to nearby Carkeek Park. Nothing beats the frustration of hours in a car than a walk in the woods to witness early spring unfurling.

Right now the sweet, delicate snowdrops are in bloom just off the trail next to the historic Piper Orchard in the park. While these plants aren't native, these bulbs have spread in happy clumps throughout a patch of forest over the past century.

I hiked for over an hour through the lowland forest.  I heard lots of birds singing, felt a slight remnant breeze from the overnight storm, and generally enjoyed spying signs of spring, like the first shoots of this skunk cabbage beside the trail.

In a few months it will be several feet high and look like something that belongs in the tropics.

I once again appreciated our lush temperate rainforest abundance of moss and ferns, even though I couldn't enjoy the several feet of fresh snow just an hour away in the mountains. At least on this day.

While spring is charging at us, I'll head again to the snowy alpine mountains with 
my skis in a few days. Then I'll be  walking in the woods again.  Back and forth.

This proximity and diversity is one of the reasons I love living here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Super Party for our Super Bowl Champs!

Today most of Seattle and much of the Puget Sound region came downtown to celebrate our Super Bowl champs Seahawks. And what a party!

While temps hovered just above 20 degrees (my toes and fingers say even colder), around 700,000 12s endured freezing cold to be a part of the collective joy that has gripped Seattle. That's 65,000 more than the total population of Seattle.

Mutual love for the youthful and exhuberant Hawks has even thawed the so-called Seattle Freeze. Over the last month, and especially the last few days, this city has become a melting pot of joyous, smiling, extra-friendly, happy people. In mid-winter no less!

Along the parade route, people made sure to let the kids be in the front so they could see the Hawks as they rode by in open-topped Hum-vees and other big rigs. Our Mayor Murray overruled our Superintent of Schools by suggesting that parents be allowed to take their kids out of school for the parade. Best mayor ever!

People were hanging out of windows, balconies, rooftops, trees, and even perched atop Honey Buckets to see and cheer the Hawks.  And while there were thousands of outstretched arms taking pictures with their phones and cameras, over half the Hawks were taking shots of us.

Beast Mode! Running back Marshawn Lynch filming me.  :)

Being the polite city we are, there were no arrests, although one guy was hauled off in handcuffs for not keeping back. If you haven't checked out the #howseattleriots string on Twitter, it's a humorous Portlandia-esque take on Seattle's post-Super Bowl behavior.

All in all we Seattleites want to savor our moment as long as possible. The city's ardor for this team seems to transcend mere awesome football players and games. The special feeling for this special team was palpable all season, and it just continued to build.  Civic pride is rampant.  After "hiding" in plain sight all these years in the Upper Left Hand corner, we're finally recognized! We're all winners together!

We'll be floating on this high well into Spring.