White Winter Week

A couple rides in mid-40s weather, then the storm hits. An Arctic blast, dropping 9″ of fluffy snow on Corvallis. A Friday night, pretty much kills the restaurant. No one dares drive in this stuff, for good reason: we don’t salt the roads in Oregon. Plows can just clear the snow off, then drop sand to create traction on the packed snow surface.

The thick blanket of snow offers a treat I haven’t had since New York, cross country skiing from my doorstep. I break out the Nordic skiis for the first time in years, and ski from the restaurant down Crystal Lake and then along the Willamette all the way to the park. It’s now in the 20’s, this snow is going to stay around awhile. Also a rare treat in Oregon, where the snow usually is gone to warm rain within a day.

A week with sub 20s means the icy roads are here to stay too. Cars are sliding around, but I put on my chains and am able to drive the van like an East Coast veteran snow hound. I’m up at the house, thawing pipes that have frozen – but not burst. All around the county, homeowners are paying thousands to have overtime plumbers get their water running again and repair burst pipes. My house is just a few miles from Mary’s Peak road, so I dare to venture up top, again the first time in years I’ve visited the snowy peak.

Midweek, I’m the only one not the mountain this afternoon safe a lone snow shoer. The snow is a bit sticky, melting now, and yet icy in other spots. I climb the road, then up over the meadows to the very top. It’s so quiet up here. Only a few ravens, otherwise total silence. Save the sounds of snow crunching under my skiis, my breathing, the swish of ski poles. And my thoughts.

My adjustment to “normal” life in Corvallis has been challenging. I miss the solitary purpose I enjoy while touring, the daily rhythm and ritual of rising, riding, reflecting, retiring. Repeated, day after day. Deeper levels of consciousness come through commitment to the journey. And a calmness. Back in Corvallis, the stresses of the restaurant are immediate and jarring. Customers, vendors, creditors, family all have needs, desires, demands. How quickly I become lost in the fray.

So this winter storm has been well timed, forcing a slowdown, a pause. Get me out of the ruts I had jumped back into. Onto a new path, one cushioned by the magic of crystalline water, fluffy banks of white, crisp blue sky. Memories of simpler days, skiing across the campus at Cornell, into the frozen Adirondacks, taking the black trails at Lapland Lakes. Bundling up in layers of warm clothes, but not enough, then at the end of the ski hitting the spa at Timberhill. Never felt hotter!

The melt comes after a full week. Restaurant resumes a normal December pace, as we prepare for he holidays. I’m grateful for the break in routine, and also for the return of typical weather, rain. Looking forward to a wet Christmas. While remembering the days of white winters past.

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