Marshall: ‘A love-hate relationship with snow’

Islander columnist Becky Fox Marshall explores the pleasures and pain of snow days on Bainbridge.

What is it about snow that makes us shop like it’s the end of the world? What is about snow that makes us want it so badly, then detest it so completely?

The snow that defined this Christmas season revealed two significant things about myself (and I bet I’m not alone) – when it’s not falling, I feel cheated and when it is falling, I’m freaked out. Bottom line: I’m never quite satisfied.

The not falling thing. Remember in mid-December, when they first started saying we were destined to experience snowfall? I set up a command center – the TV remote set to rock back and forth between Northwest Cable News and The Weather Channel; flashlights throughout the house and the computer set to Cliff Mass’s weather blog.

And then it did begin to fall – all around the state. But it wasn’t falling on Bainbridge. Television reporters were dispatched far and wide, the cameras revealing deep, swirling snow. But here? Nothing. Cheated again!

Still, hope springs eternal. I felt compelled to go to the grocery store (with everyone else) and stock up on food. But when I got home, there was still not a flake to be found. I turned on the TV and saw pictures of snowmen in towns to the north, south and east.

But here we were – all stocked up and hunkered down with nowhere to go.

Maybe if we shopped for more food, the snow would come.

So we did, and a few days later the snow finally arrived. Yea! It snowed and snowed and snowed. It was beautiful. We watched it fall. We went for walks, appreciating how it muted all sound and turned the neighborhood into a peaceful, clean postcard with the trees and road buried and covered in snow.
Soon, we began to feel the urge to return to the grocery store. I went into town with a neighbor. I bought more food.

The next day, the family was weary of being snowed in. The novelty had worn off and the food we bought on the first, second and third “storm’s a-comin’” trips seemed inadequate and boring. What if we couldn’t get out for weeks? Did we have enough hot chocolate? What if we lost power?

It was, after all, the perfect storm. It was beautiful but we had power. But after a couple days of watching the news and The Weather Channel, and reading the weather blog, we were again dissatisfied.
We had to get out. We were over it. We needed it to go away. We screwed up our courage and got in the car. The family was beginning to berate me for having the only car that does well in snow, and yet leaving it sitting in the carport. So we packed up the car, picked up a few neighbors, and ventured out. Back to the store. I’ve never spent so much money on groceries in my life!

Finally the snow was gone. People returned to their homes and lives. I changed the channel. I forgot about the weather blog.

Soon I began to miss the snow. When I uploaded my pictures, I marveled at its beauty and at the magical feeling of not being able to get out. Snow makes time stand still, and all the regular rules of your schedule are out the window. When you get back to actual time, and the regular rules, it makes you miss the snow.

And so tonight, on this Sunday night after New Year’s, the snow has returned.

It is pretty. But that mattered for about 15 minutes before I felt strongly compelled to go grocery shopping. And now, 3 hours into it, I just want the snow to go away. The lights are flashing, my Internet is down and I have a dentist’s appointment tomorrow.

But I do want to thank the snow. I have lots of lots of groceries, and a renewed respect for my car. And I now know that this “never being satisfied” thing is something I need to work on for my own personal development.

Perhaps I can make peace with snow. If it falls here, that’s cool. If it doesn’t, that’s cool, too. I will no longer take it personally. While it does its thing, I’ll work on my own development – shop by need, not forecast; drive without fear; and stop wishing for snow when there isn’t any, and for no snow when there is some. In short, I shall endeavor to be satisfied regardless.

Still, I sure wish it would stop. Although I’m comforted by the words of Thomas Edison: “Show me a thoroughly satisfied (wo)man and I will show you a failure.”