PAT NEAL: Snowstorm strategies and the bonds of vexation

BY NOW I think we’ve all had it up to here with living on the North Pole.

OK, maybe the North Pole didn’t shift to the Olympic Peninsula, but it feels like it.

The one thing you can say about the arctic conditions we have been experiencing lately is that it has brought all people — no matter their socio-economic or geopolitical persuasions — together in a common loathing of snow.

The snow and freezing wind were fun for a while.

It’s pretty entertaining to watch our youthful phone-zombies struggle through knee-deep snow drifts while texting.

Or to watch flocks of birds come into the bird feeder only to be scattered by the explosive dive of a vigilant Cooper’s hawk.

Watching the weather report was more exciting than watching the Super Bowl, but then again, what isn’t?

After only a few days, snow became something of a struggle for survival with power outages, freezing pipes, dead batteries and a myriad of other problems for many of us.

Still, the snow reveals something of the perseverance of the human spirit and the tapestry of our community of people helping others just for the sake of helping others.

In other words, for whatever reason, the snow seems to bring out the best in people.

There is no better way to get to know your neighbor than when they pull you out of a ditch, loan you a snow shovel or drop off a gallon of antifreeze.

Someday soon we hope the snow will start to melt and there will be plenty of time to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned from this trying weather event and strengthen our resolve to deal with storms in the future.

When the snowstorms are finally over it could be time to return the stuff we’ve borrowed from our generous neighbors such as the antifreeze and the snow shovel, but then again if they wanted the stuff back why would they loan it to us in the first place?

When the snow finally goes away it will be nice to stop complaining about the snow and go back to complaining about the weather we usually hate.

You know, the drizzly, overcast 40-degree monsoon that typically defines the Olympic Peninsula winter.

If the snow would ever melt it could even foster a new appreciation for rain by making us realize that rain is a beautiful thing.

You don’t have to shovel it.

They don’t shut down schools for rain and you can even drive through it with very little difficulty.

With the melting of the snow comes a new realization and understanding of which of our water pipes were left unprotected from the arctic blast.

Leaky pipes can give us the opportunity to work on our plumbing skills.

We all know in our hearts that someday the snow will melt.

Until that happy day perhaps we could reflect on the positive effects of the current arctic conditions.

The snow can be an excellent excuse for delaying the spring cleaning.

It’s a sullen chore I was about to engage in if I could only find the pull cord on the vacuum cleaner.

The joke was on me because vacuum cleaners don’t have pull cords. I know that now.

It is also a little-known fact that vacuum cleaners don’t work worth a darn on monofilament fishing line.

I choose to celebrate the snow while it is here and why not?

We can fish in the snow and that’s all that really matters.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal

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