I’d made a pretty firm commitment to myself this year to give the kids a chance to play in the snow. More than that, I’d made a pretty firm commitment to them along those lines, and I really wanted to keep it. Too often I know that their expectations are disappointed, and not always because the expectations were unreasonable — when life gets rearranged or I run out to patience/energy/sense of humor, guess who generally gets the short end of the stick?
So when I saw a report that Mt. Hood was finally due to get some snow last week, I thought I’d found my opportunity. I would take advantage of homeschooling to skip the weekend and instead go up on a Monday, and check out the White River West Sno-Park with the kids. The online images showed a lovely slope of snow with a brook running through it, and the web site said it had 25 inches at the end of December. I wished we owned some sort of sled, and reluctantly abandoned ideas of trying to acquire one Monday morning.
It’s a long drive up, but I didn’t become worried until we passed Skibowl (where Dave and I skied occasionally, before kids) and found it completely bare. Not patchy, but pure bare dirt. Just a few miles from the Sno-Park, we were still only seeing traces on the ground. “I’m a little worried that there’s so little snow,” I told the kids, trying to prepare them, and trying frantically to think of a backup plan. Mica was already done with driving; there’s no way we could head back down the mountain without finding something fun to do.
I needn’t have worried. I pulled into the parking lot to discover that it was empty, and for good reason — other than some leftover plow piles around the edges of the lot, and patches under trees, there was no snow. Fortunately I kept my mouth shut, because a moment later I was reminded that my kids’ expectations are not the same as mine. “There’s snow!” they kept saying. “Look over there! There’s more snow!”
So I bit off every comment I wanted to make and instead got people out and bundled. And sure, there was absolutely bare ground in the official Sno-Park area, but in the forest there were still patches of packed and crusty white stuff — sometimes even six or eight inches deep. “Thank you so much for bringing us here!” Ryan said as we headed off into the woods. “Yeah, this is amazing!” said Nathan. “I’m loving it!” Never underestimate the charm of simply being outdoors, especially in unusual circumstances; nor the charm of a happy baby who thinks having her belly pelted with bits of snow is the funniest thing ever. (Her snow suit kept her very warm and cozy, but also didn’t let her move very freely. I felt sometimes like I was carrying around a large sea-green teddy bear.)
It was not at all what I’d envisioned, but it was a good day.