Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Less cranky (or "Magic Mountain")

Mount Hood looked magical yesterday as I drove home from North Portland.

I thought, as I pulled onto the freeway, "There's no way I'll see that mountain." The clouds were pale gray, impenetrable layers. They looked like a rumpled down comforter slumped above the Cascades, or like several feet of snow that covered only the sky. As I pulled onto I-5—or as some people out here call it, The 5*—I could see distant round mountains, black with conifers and patched with white, snowy bald spots. It was pretty and I was content to see it. I vowed not to look east, risking a car accident, for the cloud-covered place where Mount Hood should be. But suddenly, the road curved to the left and I saw the huge pyramidal mass breaking through the cloud layer, sun falling on some of its wrinkles. Mount Hood was there for me—a bright, glowing white giant. Across its trisecting lines, from the upper right and the lower left, drifted two wispy clouds.

All around Mount Hood was the same thick, gray cloud mass. The air in front of me was opaque. It took extra effort to see through what hung in it. I've never been able to describe this—what comes to mind is shifting, dusty white air—but when you look closely at the air, you see nothing of the sort. Maybe it's the kind of thing that you can see when you're not looking for it; it's present out of the corner of your eye only. It's like the ghost of snow. Because that's what that kind of air means. It is going to snow.

I dismissed the thought before it even formed into thought-words. It doesn't snow in Portland in March! But it did—not on I-5, not in my garden, but in other parts of the city, it snowed yesterday.

* I find this enchantingly cute. I want to go back to Jersey and tell people I am "getting on the freeway, the 80" or "the 287."

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