Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Of Our Discontent

Yeah, I know: the headline on this post directly contradicts an entry in December singing the praises of winter. Just chalk it up to another instance of paradox in life. This story could take several twists and turns, but let’s start with the weather. We finally had a real winter this winter.
As we enjoyed our holiday sojourn amongst the snow and ice in the State of Washington, an ice storm of Biblical proportions slammed Eugene-Springfield, taking down trees and limbs virtually everywhere in the vicinity. Tens of thousands of utility customers, many who heat with electricity, were without power for days.

On the heels of that silver thaw, the snowstorms came, first to Eugene-Springfield, and then to the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. For the first time in my decades-long association with the University of Oregon as an instructor and a student, I experienced a snow day. It seems that hell hath truly frozen over.

In Portland, the headlines on The Oregonian’s website reads like the weather equivalent of The National Enquirer: “Is It Done Snowing In Portland?” "Why Was Forecast So Far Off?" “Where To Buy Tire Chains In Portland” and “Governor Declares State Of Emergency” What really happened was we had a real winter this winter.

Having wintered in the North Cascades for five years, we know what living in snow country is like. It’s a tough row to hoe and not for the faint of heart. That’s why we -- as many others, including of our forebears from the unmerciful snows in the heartland -- moved back to the Willamette Valley. The good news: winters like this are rare.

I take solace in another Steinbeck tome, Travels With Charley: “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Worse than the elements, we’re having to weather a critical season of political transition. Never has there been such stark contrast between class (Barack Obama) and crass (Donald Trump). 

Expecting spring will bring renewed vigor to fight the good fight, I find consolation in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will.” Or Bob Marley: “Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up. Don’t give up the fight.”