Pam’s Sense of Snow – The 2005 Edition

The coast has always been my home. I’ve never lived far from water and as such, spent most of my outdoors time in temperate zones. I was, from a young age, devoted to my bicycle and until my day job got to be too far away from my home, was a committed bicycle commuter. My heart has turned towards the Pacific Ocean for as long as I can remember. The rallying call, “To the beach!” never fell on deaf ears when shouted my way. The embarrassment of swimsuits aside, sand and sea were my preference. Oh, I knew of snow, but it was not my destination.

Over the past five years, however, all that has changed. While I still love the shoreline, when the seasons turn, you won’t find me inside pining for umbrella drinks and sandals. Now, when the days get cold, it’s time to kick it up a notch and really get outside.

Fall is arriving Seattle and things are getting cozy. Friends are having dinner parties and soup swap is on the calendar. (Soup swap is when you cook up a big ol’ pot of soup, pack it in two serving containers, and bring it to the host where an exchange takes place. Then all your friends make soup too and you end up with eight different kinds of soup in your freezer. It’s brilliant! And I take no credit for the idea.) Leaves are starting to turn and drop from the trees. As I look at them pilling up on the driveway, I can’t help but wish that they’d turn to snow when they hit the ground. Not only would that mean no raking, but also it would mean snow!

As the days get shorter, I’ve taken to reading training tips for snowshoers. Taking my lead from the USSA team, I’m climbing the stairs in the water tower near my house. I’m striding up the steep hillsides of my neighborhood. I’m doing a little running. Between you and me, I hate running, but I’ll take on a little of it just so I’m fit for snowshoe season. I’m in a yoga workshop to improve my balance and strength. I am striving for quads of steel so that when I hit the snow, I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready!

I’m also engaging in that pre-season sport we all love so well: Shopping! I couldn’t be more content with my snowshoes, but dang it, I learned the true meaning of floatation in last season’s deep powder and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t pick up a pair of Ojibwa or Alaskan style wood snowshoes. Also, I’m all about warm and dry plus, hello, looking good, so I’m checking out the new clothing too.

So I’m gearing up and getting in better shape, but inside my head I’m already facing the mountains. You can see Mount Rainier if you stand in my bathtub. And just over there past the rooftops of my neighborhood are the west facing peaks of the Cascades. In the morning, when the air is clear, I look out the windows to check the color of the mountains. Is it snowing yet? How about now? Now?

The realist in me knows it’s a few months out before I get to hear the crunch of snow under my shoes. But that doesn’t keep me from dreaming about it. I am psyched. I am stoked. I am amped. I am whatever ridiculous adjective you use these days for being so excited about the coming winter that you can hardly stand it.

I didn’t used to be this way. I used to think of winter as something to be endured. Maybe, if finances permitted, I’d take a “sun break” to revitalize me and get me through the dark days of February. What a fool I was! I live for February now, for the brightest, snowiest days of winter. Now, I can hardly wait for fall to be over. Is it snowing yet? How about now?

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Pam Mandel