Opinion

Editor's Column: White stuff's a welcome change

We seldom stop to think how great it is to live on a planet where white stuff falls from the sky occasionally.

Winter would be so boring if someone hadn’t thought to bring us white stuff from time to time. Around here, we’d have nothing but mud until spring. The white stuff works miracles, covering the mud, rotting leaves and fir needles with purity.

It also breaks up our daily tedium. Suddenly, walking the dog becomes a challenge and driving the roads becomes a death-defying act. Just an inch of the white stuff will do it, it doesn’t take a lot, not for people used to water and mud.

Even waiting for the bus Monday morning was compelling. Usually, half a dozen cars pass by in the five-minute wait for the bus, but on this morning only one went by. A few others turned off onto the flatter but longer road to the highway. I doubted the bus would even show up, but felt it was my duty to be there if it did. A bus driver must be real disappointed to risk the snow-covered back roads only to find all his passengers had chickened out. So I stood there, mentally getting ready to walk back home and get the car out of the garage.

To my surprise, a vehicle rounded the corner in the distance and I could see it was Island Transit, making its appointed rounds despite the snow and ice. The white stuff even made the homely bus look pretty, coming down the white road overhung by white branches, all illuminated by headlights. I stepped aboard the warm, cozy interior, and we proceeded down the hilly road. This guy obviously had not been raised in Western Washington. He drove confidently, not too fast and not too slow, and took the hills like a pro. Two other people were standing at their accustomed pickup spots, and we made the seven miles to the transfer point without incident. Nice job, we all told the bus driver as we departed.

The big, northbound bus, was only a minute late, and carried about half the normal load of passengers. With schools two hours later, the usual gaggle of teachers was absent. Everyone had a story to tell about how the white stuff had affected their morning, and suddenly it started again: white stuff pouring from the sky.

The bus radio revealed that it wasn’t an easy morning for Island Transit drivers. Roads went from bad to hazardous to treacherous, and at least one driver called in for help. He couldn’t go anywhere. But they kept trying, and hit as many of their stops as possible. As always, the further south they were, the more snow there was. It’s the convergence zone thing.

The slow drive north was caused more by a panicky automobile driver ahead of us than the snow. The driver pulled over where he could, or just stopped on the highway to avoid icy bus stops, and eventually made it to Oak Harbor where he went out of his way to make sure everyone got where they were going.

It took about 20-minutes longer than a regular morning, but it seemed much faster, thanks to the white stuff.

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