Almost every 10 years, Portland experiences a heavy dose of precipitation—of the frozen variety. Drivers’ palms begin to sweat at the first sign of a few snowflakes. Children dance around hoping school will be cancelled. This may seem odd to those in other parts of the country who share the road with snowplows four months a year. Yet, Portlanders are ill-equipped for the white stuff. Most only have umbrellas they use during severe rainstorms. Few have studded tires. Surely, some feel they can conquer anything and venture out undaunted by the weather. Too often these intrepid souls aren’t versed in the nuances of winter driving and end up giving their year-end bonuses to auto body mechanics.
The rest of us realize there isn’t much we can do while the thermometer stubbornly sits below freezing. Until then, the city almost comes to a standstill. How a foot of fresh snow can envelope and hush a metropolitan area is something quite remarkable. Everywhere there is the gentle sound of silence.