Sub-Zero Snow

On December 8, 1972, Eugene had its lowest temperature since record-keeping began—twelve degrees below zero. Yesterday the elements tried to match that, falling short by two degrees. In our area that is truly uncommon. Like snow on the beach (and Newport had that, too). If you’re the betting sort, I’ll suggest the black 8 on a roulette wheel.

I can’t recall taking pictures during the storm forty-one years ago. The snow that fell then was the wet cement kind we usually receive, and keeping pipes from freezing and getting around without falling on the ice was enough to do. I had a job at the local newspaper delivering ad materials, and my Beetle churned through it all. You’ll recall, the man who drove the snow plow drove to work in a Bug.

I don’t live in town now, don’t have a regular routine (that you would notice), and as the snow piled up this time I could spend slow hours puffing through the light powder that quickly covered our wooded domain. Every thing appeared marvelous, the light sharp and luminous as it mixed with shadows. Except for little clumps of snow falling from tree branches the air was scrubbed clean, and quiet.

Over the weekend the fresh fall began settling on December’s bones, like an actor becoming seasoned instead of sexy. Later today or tomorrow temperatures will rise consistently above freezing and our gravel road will become a giant gooey puddle, the trees will bare themselves again, and in a few short days Winter will arrive.


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