Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Snow Day

The snow started falling during naptime.

I didn't notice, because I had all the shades drawn and the blackout curtains pulled, so the children would sleep as long as possible.

Ms. Theresa and I were hopping around settling restless children and cleaning the bathroom, when one of the dads burst into the room at 2:30.

I gave him my usual, I know you did not just walk into a roomful of sleeping preschoolers, look, but I could tell from the snow on his feet that is must have gotten bad, since we pulled the drapes at 12:30 for story.

He did a pretty decent job of picking up his sleeping child silently, while I rooted around in the giant pile of coats and boots for her pink snow pants and mittens.

We suited her up and sent them off into a Christmas card looking flurry.

My Facebook friend Kirkwhousedtobeinthenavyandknowsaboutweatherpatterns had said that this snow would be dry and the wind blustery and that it most likely would not stick, so I was feeling sort of ok about it.

Another parent texted me that she would be there in ten minutes, so I got her child up and dressed and seated on the shoe bench with a cracker.

When she arrived she said the traffic was bad, so I woke up the rest of the children, and got Theresa to help speed clean up the beds and get snack served, so she could get going home to NW.

Portland is just not set up to deal with snow and ice.

It is always a big mess.

It just is.

Best not to be out in it.

At 4:20 I was worried, but then my last little girl exclaimed that she saw her mom in the driveway, which eased my mind.

I cleaned up the last little bits and bobs and got the hell out, just as the snow was starting to pack down on the secluded side streets, in the sleepy neighborhood where the preschool lives, just over the Multnomah county line, and a little rural and not well traveled.

I slide a little as I pulled onto 72nd, behind a long line of stopped cars, but after crawling a few blocks, I noticed it was because there was a stalled car with it's flashers on.  We all drove around it carefully and were back in business by the time we passed Duke.

All the way home, uneventfully along 72nd, past Woodstock, Foster, Holgate, headed toward Powell, I felt profoundly grateful that my parents all picked up in daylight.

I have been working in child care since 1986 on and off and over the years I have been stuck closing many times with children that had parents that simply could not get to them.

The first time it happened was the winter of 1988, while I was working at a Montessori school downtown.

I met Rolf there that spring, and by winter we were already best friends.

We both lived downtown, he and his wife right next to Safeway on 10th and me a little further out on Broadway Drive, just at the base of the hill going up to Counsel Crest.

I was working and going to PSU and Rolf was finishing his PhD at the chemistry department and his wife was finishing hers remotely, which was harder back then than it is now with the internet.

They had a little girl that was in my class at the Montessori school.

The snow was falling and the city was shutting and all the children had been picked up.

Rolf had picked up Johanna and was waiting to walk home with me, but I had one baby left, Camden, a bald blue eyed beauty that I babysat frequently.

Camden's mother loved me.

She loved me because I knew a lot about taking care of babies, even though I was only 20.

She was a very nervous lady, a lawyer.

A teeny, tiny, nervous lawyer lady that didn't know anything about babies.

I can't remember what his father did, but he was gone often and was named Michael.

They lived up the hill from me in a very fancy house, that was minimally furnished with great intention.

My grandmother would have thought they were too poor for furniture, but they wanted it that way.

I often babysat for them over the weekends in that emptyish house.

I loved that baby fiercely, as I would many of the babies I cared for over the years.

So when the snow started falling and the children started leaving, and no one had come for Camden Brown, my boss came to tell me his parents were stuck in Salem and that they wondered if I could take him home with me, it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do.

So I packed up his bag, and set off in the snow, up the park blocks and onto Broadway.

I borrowed a stroller from the school and put the baby bags and my basket in it (in those days I carried all my school gear around in an absurd market basket),and put Camden in one of those old Gerry back packs that were in fashion then.

Rolf carried baby Johanna on his shoulders, she hung onto his long hair like the reigns of a horse, shrieking and laughing.

I was wearing my wooden Swedish clogs, the green leather ones that I got at a garage sale for .90, black cotton tights and long peasant skirt, with a motor cycle jacket, that I thought made me look like Patti Smith, and Rolf was wearing black leather boots that made it clear he was German.  I had my beret on my head and Rolf had wrapped the baby's sweater on his, tying the sleeves under his chin.

We slipped and slid along, until we hit Broadway, with all the awnings and made pretty good speed.

The plan was that we would walk along and at some point meet up with Rolf's wife in the car, but we wound up walking all the way to my house, with both both babies, our gear and the stroller.

When we got there my housemate and her girlfriend were home.

Rolf's wife made it a little later, having ditched their car, a 1968 Corolla at the bottom of my hill.

We all ate lentil soup and bread and played records and looked at the Christmas tree.

We played Scrabble and cooed at the babies.

Rolf and his wife and Johanna went home in the dark, walking through the park blocks to their tiny apartment,(a corner of the Simon Benson house, that would later be restored and moved onto the PSU campus).

Camden and I curled up with my poodle Teddy Braun, in my big antique bed, with all the blankets I could find, and Denise and Jackie, my roomates, slept on the floor with us, because there was only heat in the one room of that house.

The next afternoon the parents arrived to pick up their baby and paid me, for something I would have done for free.  


  1. Love this queen! ♡ mj

  2. What a wonderful memory. I remember that storm.