Winter weather gives us much to consider
It's the last day of January and I have just returned from what has been a series of sunny-day walks — in January — in Oregon! How rare is that? The usual elusive January sun has made more appearances this month than I can remember in my 27 years of living here. Being a sun-craver, this has been a definite bonus.
Back in my traveling days, January seemed a good time to spend time in sunny and warmer climates and vacations would be planned. My husband Dick was also a sun lover and we'd head to Arizona, southern California or Hawaii for a couple weeks. I remember one trip when we were so reluctant to return home to Oregon's dismal January that we kept extending our stay at a quaint little inn in Solvang, California. The ultimate in enjoying sunny days, however, was the January I spent on the Costa del Sol in Spain with three friends. It's fun looking in the rearview mirror at these trips even though I'm now content to forego the pleasures, as well as the involved efforts, in traveling.
I confess to feelings of guilt on this day as I think about family and friends in the Midwest who are enduring the harshest winter in decades. How well I recall the snowy, below zero temps and wind-chill factors of my 61 years of Iowa winters. An email from a friend in Peoria, Illinois, tells of keeping pipes from freezing in their garage showing the garage sink wrapped in a quilt with a heating lamp below; having to put bowls of hot water in the garage refrigerator to keep it running so things in it will not freeze, along with other inventive chores for this abnormal winter. She refers to the cracking and popping sounds the house makes as a "housequake", keeping them awake at night. My daughter-in-law in Eden Prairie, Minnesota reports that even the dogs don't want to go outside and my granddaughter in Minneapolis has a car that refuses to start. She calls this a horrendous winter.
And yet here I am in my cozy and sunny apartment at Mary's Woods, doing my daily walks in 40-50 degree temps on the beautiful walkways here, sitting on a bench basking in the sun, getting nature's infusion of vitamin D.
Of course we all know the rains, possibly snow, and dismal days lay ahead in February and often in March; but for now I will take advantage of the gift of another January sunny day.
As predicted, the rain returned yesterday and today is damp and cloudy. But unless there is a drenching downpour, my daily walks continue. Today I took the pathway to Marylhurst where I stopped to watch a brown bunny posed by the sign declaring this as a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and so it is. I'm not sure where the deer reside but they are often on the grounds of Mary's Woods.
I notice that the crows and squirrels are performing on the parking lot where there is a lone pickup truck. While the squirrels scamper on the ground, the crows appear to have a choreographed pattern that involves swooping high above and then landing briefly in the bed of the truck followed by perching on the light poles. Curious, I walk over to look in the truck and find the main attraction to be a discarded bag of McDonald's leftovers. It's a raucous and entertaining show.
I open the blinds this morning to a winter wonderland from last night's snowfall. The beauty of it quickly wanes, however, when I realize the trip to play bridge and lunch at a friend's will probably not happen ... and it doesn't. By afternoon the sun is out, snow melted, and I'm out for another pleasant, though colder, walk.
More wintry conditions are forecast and after sailing through January with nary a snowflake we will now live in limbo with the uncertainties of predictions on a daily basis. I used to ignore these warnings and go merrily on my way until a couple years ago when I defied a few snowflakes in the air and went to yoga class. An hour later the streets were snow-packed, snarled with cars going nowhere, and the usual 15-minute trip home took five perilous hours and having to leave my car a mile from home. Lesson learned.
Though this area escaped yesterday's predicted accumulated snowfall, the week ahead promises "a wintry mix" of snow and rain. But for today, I walk beneath a cloudless sky with the sun shining brightly — perfect for pondering random thoughts and being grateful for this mid-winter blessing.
Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.