A winter storm swooped down on our city yesterday, and it's not even officially winter yet. Three weeks ago we had a 74-degree afternoon, and this morning it was 15 degrees. Before leaving for work yesterday, I had a robust crop of nasturtiums; this morning their sad remains hung limp beneath snowdust. It's all so odd and we are all so unprepared. While other commuters suffered through blocked freeway lanes and ice-sheets and a journey home taking six, seven, eight hours, somehow I slipped through a hole in the chaos and made it home yesterday, late afternoon, in normal time. In fact, I had to keep reminding myself that it was snowing, that it was icy, and that I should slow down.
I'm a bit of a weather fanatic, and upon waking at 4:30am, with no hopes of further sleep, I took out my iPhone and checked the temps, and was stunned to discover a reading of -6 in my fair town! The forecast for the next four days promised little better -- all these negative signs flashed before me on my tiny screen, tiny frigid barbs. It felt as if a gigantic shift had taken place in my universe while I'd slept; that a ferocious cold front had whisked down from Canada, compliments of El Nino (or Nina, can never remember which 'little child' we can blame). It was massively unsettling, and my mind began to race with the prospect of frozen pipes, frozen plants, frozen everything. Had a Midwest-style deep-freeze really settled in to our temperate region? This is Seattle, for god's sake, home of ever-present winter drizzle and gloriously-habitable summer. What was happening?
And that hour, the four o'clock hour, with its own other-worldly sense. Many dreams have placed me waking to a blue 4am light where the minutes cease to accumulate and possibilities abound in the eternal present, like an unexpected gift -- a present! -- of time and an infinite supply of benevolent blue light --
Then I suspected something -- a nagging inkling -- and checked the iPhone again, to discover that somehow the temperature reading had shifted from fahrenheit to centigrade. Ahhhh.....
My insignificant sliver of the universe righted itself, anxieties dropped away one by one, and I slipped into dreamless sleep.