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Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful and the Snow is So Delightful

VanFossen home in snowPart of the magic of blogging is the ability to reach out across the distance and touch a heart. That’s also part of the magic of the Internet in general. It allows us to connect with strangers across the planet and find like-minds.

The first year featured the snow fall effect, WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg, explained that he hadn’t grown up with snow and had just experienced his first snow. It was so exciting, he wanted to share it with others. He decided to share it with everyone on, letting the bloggers choose the option to let it snow for a couple weeks in December on their blogs. The snow option was repeated again this year.

Not a fan of silly web toys, I was touched by this. I remembered going through another extremely warm winter in the Middle East, missing the changes of the seasons and all the eye candy winter brings to other parts of the world where I’d lived. Standing at the window looking out on a yellow, hazy sky shining down on the luscious green park below my apartment, people walking around in shorts and t-shirts, I wished for snow. A shout from the kitchen brought me back to reality.

“Come quick! It’s snowing!”

I raced into the kitchen, sliding across the stone floor, to where my husband had set up a small workspace on the kitchen table. He pointed towards his laptop with a bright grin on his face. “It’s snowing.”

Sure enough, the web page before me featured beautiful snow across a field and dusting the trees in the background. He clicked a link and the next picture was of horses caked in white clumps of snow. The next was of a lovely pond with a giant willow tree at the end covered in white with steam rising off the water’s surface. Click after click brought beautiful scenes of winter accompanied by lovely guitar music.

This was our holiday gift from an Internet buddy of my husband in the classical guitar forum where they hang out and talk classical guitar and music techniques. She’d read how he was also pining for winter in a note he left on the forum. A few days later, a blizzard passed through her Oregon farm and she raced out to photograph all the white wonder and put it together as a web page slide show, accompanied by her guitar playing, just for us.

We stood there and cried, thousands of miles from the nearest snowflake, reviewing each white frosted photograph with envy and lust. We hadn’t realized how much we missed “weather” and “seasons” that we’d grown up with. This was the best gift ever as we stood there in the hot kitchen in our t-shirts, shorts, and bare feet sweating, staring at a web slide show built just for us. For a moment, we could feel the chill.

We were determined then to find us a place to call home where the seasons changed and snow had a good chance of falling.

frontwindowsnowviewFor the past two weeks, I’ve been totally snowbound in my new home outside Portland, Oregon. A very rare cold spell snapped across the Pacific Northwest, bringing with it over a foot (1/3 meter) of snow. While most people whined that they couldn’t get out, couldn’t get to holiday events, and bothered by the wet and cold, we were in heaven. We had plenty of food, wood stove to keep us warm when the electricity failed, and no events to attend as we know so few in this area yet. We hunkered down, worked whether or not the Internet and electricity permitted, and just enjoyed every moment of the cold eye candy around us.

The second morning of the snow, a dark shadow passed my office window. I glanced out in time to see brown fur. A deer, then two, then three, wandered up the hill poking under the snow in our garden for something to eat, nibbling on the ends of tree branches, flowers, and shrubs.

Birds flocked to the group of bird feeders I’d set up in the back, dozens of juncos, chickadees, Rufus-sided towhees, Stellar’s and scrub jays. We even spotted a pine siskin darting in and out of the Oregon Grape shrubs around the feeders. A raven appeared, scaring the birds away with its hoarse caw, then went off to better feeding grounds.

Brent VanFossen with his homemade wooden sled

Brent VanFossen with his homemade wooden sled

I plotted to make a sled. We are on a very steep hill and this was perfect sledding snow. As a child, any plastic sheeting, cardboard, or plastic bag was a good improvisation for a sled. It worked. We didn’t care about pretty. Playing around with various ideas, I found my husband already several steps head of me in the plotting.

He was working in the shop to make a sled for me as a surprise. He cut a piece of plywood and screwed in two 2x4s as runners. He trimmed the ends at a slant to allow it to slide through the snow, added a handle bar piece of wood to rest hands and feet and tie a rope for pulling. We rubbed old candles across the wood runners to make them slide better, and headed up the driveway to test it.

Without the ability to steer, other than shifting our weight and dragging our feet, we spent a lot of time landing in the snow drifts at the side of the driveway. This didn’t stop us from screaming at the top of our lungs with glee for the few meters of speed we were able to experience before jumping the track and sprawling in the snow. I still have bruises in spots where bruises haven’t been seen in years.

A neighbor came by with a small tractor/bulldozer and asked us if we wanted the top of the driveway plowed out where the snow plow had blocked it. We were grateful and agreed. By accident, he started heading down the slanted driveway, sliding much of the way. He managed to turn around as the light left the sky, turning on his headlights to guide him. He tried driving the bulldozer up the hill and couldn’t make the slope. Time and time again, he backed the bulldozer down the drive and made a run for it, gunning the engine. Each time, midway up, he’d lose traction and start spinning wheels and sliding back down. He finally backed the full length of that steep section of drive and gave it all that little engine could take and roared up the driveway.

We cheered his struggles and applauded his ascent. He told us that for a while, he thought he might have to leave the bulldozer down there until Spring. He cleared the top of the drive, avoiding the descent again, giving us an opening for when we were ready to leave.

While I haven’t had a snow day yet, a day of doing something that didn’t involve work, we’ve managed to take a few hours over the past week to play a little in the snow and take a ton of pictures.

Thinking back to my memories of being winter-less for so many years, like Matt, I wanted to share a little of the magic of winter with you. It took a long time to find our piece of heaven, and I want to share it with you. I’ve put together some winter pictures from our two weeks of snow to share with you some of the wintry delight I once so missed. The snow is starting to melt and today we are about to make our first foray out of the house in over two weeks to a family holiday gathering. So while it lasted, let’s share the magic of our first white winter in many years.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. joels
    Posted December 27, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    its beautiful, im wondering when i can touch the snow. In our country we dont know how is the feeling when touching the snow.. grgrgr

  2. Posted December 27, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Looks nice 🙂 I’m from Norway and we haven’t had any snow yet this year (at least not in the south). Was hoping for some this Christmas, but only rain so far 😦

  3. Posted December 27, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos Lorelle, thanks so much for sharing them with us. I’m glad that you and your husband were able to get out and enjoy the snow! 🙂

    I live in a very rural area in Ohio, way up in the hills off a dirt road. Have been snowed in several times in the past couple of winters, each time lasting several days, before getting plowed out. Fortunately, I keep an ample stock of everything up here, just in case, so I’ve stayed toasty and warm and well-fed each time. Knock on wood, I haven’t lost power yet during any of the snow storms.

  4. Posted December 27, 2008 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle –

    You’ve got about as much snow as we do here up above Seattle. I had no idea you were in my “neck of the woods” so to speak. Next time I get to Portland, we’ll have to connect!

    I have some pics of our snow on my flickr page – – and there’s a few on my blog as well if you’d like to check them out.

    Brent’s homemade sled is very cool! Looks like he had as much fun as my *kids* did with ours. 😉

    ~ Annie

    • Posted December 28, 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      @annieanderson: I grew up north of Seattle and we had several years of great snowfall like this as a kid but almost nothing since, at least while I lived there. Three or five days, maybe, but this was incredibly rare. I’d love to catch up with you if you come to Oregon, and definitely will try to look you up when I head to Seattle. Did you hear that a WordCamp Seattle is in the works? Also a WordCamp Vancouver! I’ll be at WordCamp Whistler on January 24!

  5. Posted December 28, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    While I’ve been snowed in for the past 10 days in Walla Walla I haven’t had the trees and wildlife to enjoy. We’re more in a city environment and it’s been more of a nothing moving type snow. It’s been so wonderful to have the time to work and yet, nothing slowed down for my biz since 99% of it is online.

    It’s raining now and the snow is slowly disappearing leaving all sorts of surprises that had been buried and thought lost (like our snow shovel!) and a list of things to repair now that they can be seen but I most certainly enjoyed watching the huge flakes falling while I blogged through my front window.

    Thanks for including the pictures, but was disappointed no Lorelle on sled (except for your toesies!)

    • Posted December 28, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      The pictures of me where with my head in the snow, feet kicking out to get unstuck. 😀 I love that you lost your snow shovel in the snow!

  6. Posted December 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle – I was thinking about you over the holidays and during the snow storms. I knew you wanted a white Christmas, and you certainly got your wish, as did we. Isn’t it grand? Sounds like you had a marvelous time enjoying nature and sledding. I love Brent’s creativity in building a sled. Oh, what fun!

    • Posted December 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      @Barbara: We had a great time, but I worked a lot of long hours. I’m so thrilled to have all the white, and I hate that it’s all fading away. How did your holidays go? Well? In Bend, I get you are really snowed in!

  7. Posted December 30, 2008 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Yes, nearly all of our snow is melted, too. Kinda sad, but I know we’ll get more. The holidays were great, and I loved we had a white Christmas. Rumor had it the passes were a bear to get across. I was glad we stayed home.

  8. Posted December 31, 2008 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    It’s ironic that I came upon these pictures because right now it is snowing outside and snowing rather hard! In fact, the sky conditions look exactly like the photo of your house surrounded in snow mist. 🙂

    Good thing I came home on Monday when there was no snow from VA all the way to OH – roads were fabulously dry and easy to drive on. Had I decided to come home on New Year’s Eve, I would have had this storm to wrestle with. But I’m perched comfortably inside my home, reading blogs and catching up on emails, including yours (*wink, wink).

    Beautiful photos! I can see why you’re in heaven with this new home. You’re out in the wilderness – a perfect fit to your raw food lifestyle. I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up growing a garden to make produce for your kitchen table!

  9. Posted January 5, 2009 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    awesome photos!
    I wish we had such snow here where I live..
    Keep in mind, we never had a snow fall ever.. =(


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