Friday, March 10, 2006

Snowstorm Lite

It had been cloudy, but dry, all day, so I decided to take my chances. Really, I was taking chances for both of us, since Oliver would be riding along in his stroller. I decided to leave the bulky and awkward rain shield at home, since it wasn't raining and it was only three blocks to the grocery store.

My first indication of trouble should have been the crisp and bitter cold in the air. I remember telling Oliver that we should move quickly before the rains came. We strolled off, with no rain shield, no umbrella, not even my diaper bag along for the ride.

I spent a good long time in the ice cream aisle. Suddenly, I was craving ice cream. I got the lowfat, low sugar treats we usually get, and for good measure, I threw in a pint of Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Then, to be sporting, I also grabbed a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk for my wife.

We checked out. I went over to the coffee cart and someone announced that it was cold.

"Oh, it's gonna snow."

"Yeah, but not until tonight."

It started sprinkling. I saw a mother outside, setting up the rain cover for her baby's stroller. I was a neglectful, abusive father. But we would still have a few minutes, worst case scenario, before the rain really came down. Oliver might get a little moist, but nothing major.

We passed through the store parking lot, and the wind started blowing rain sideways into the stroller. The drizzle started coming down harder.

I started getting nervous then.

The rainreally picked up then. Oliver started getting wet, and getting panicky. I started walking faster, holding my latte so it wouldn't spill. I tried flipping the stroller backwards, pulling it, so the rain wouldn't blow in on him. It felt awkward and slightly ridiculous.

And then the sky exploded into white shards. It was snowing! Big, fluffy, wet flakes were blowing at us, seemingly from all directions. Oliver started sobbing. I started running with him, coffee foam splashing all over the back of the stroller. We only had two blocks to go. Oliver was getting soaked with wet snow, and he was full-on freaking out. The snow was stunningly thick. We somehow had gotten trapped in a March blizzard.

I had no blanket to cover him with, nothing to protect him. I picked him up and zipped his legs up inside my coat for protection. Disgusted and a little embarrassed, I put my latte on the sidewalk. I couldn't run now, cradling my 21-pound baby with one hand and pushing the stroller with the other. But he seemed to relax a bit, pressed up against me. We powerwalked home. My lungs got a bit wheezy, and we were both soaked by the time we got home. But soon enough we made it, wet, cold, and stunned.

Upstairs, I brought Oliver into the apartment and left the foam-spattered stroller outside the front door. I pulled off his pants and soggy jacket. He went to our sliding glass door and pounded his hands excitedly against the window as the snow kept pouring down.

Then, ten minutes later, it stopped. It was like our own private blizzard. The snow metamorphosed instantly to drizzle, then nothing, and then after a while the sun peeked out. My heart was still pounding with adrenalin. I felt embarrassed for not being better prepared for unexpected weather turns like this, but Seattle never gets wild storms. This was the kind of weather I remembered from Colorado, the state that copyrighted the phrase "you don't like the weather, wait five minutes."

And after all of it, as ashamed as I am even to write this, I missed my abandoned caramel latte.

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