The big snow event was almost three weeks ago but it is still fresh in my memory. When we moved to Oregon from Pennsylvania over 20 years ago, I thought I was done with snowstorms. Yes, we occasionally get a dusting of snow on the beaches, but nothing like the eight inches I measured on my patio on that Thursday morning.
Coming from the mountains in Pennsylvania, I was used to shoveling out the car and then scraping ice from the windshield. We would commonly get a foot of snow at a time, and there were weeks when the children had snow days and the parents struggled to keep them entertained both inside and out. Temperatures could dip into the negative 20’s when it was dangerous just to go outside and get the mail.
I learned how to drive in snow and know to pump the brakes and steer in the direction of the skid. Ice has its own rules, and the safest is to not drive when the roads are icy. This happened often as the sun would warm the snow just enough to melt it and then it would freeze overnight.
We learned when the snow was heavy it could break branches of trees and shrubs. Or when it was light and easy to shovel and so we could shake it off the branches. All this information came racing back into my mind as I watched the snow fall and fall and fall.
My snow lessons served me well on February 23rd and 24th. I did get out and take some great photos of the snow (which will no doubt show up on my 2023 Christmas cards) before I took a broom and swept the snow off branches of my Japanese maples. This was a heavy, wet snow and difficult to move, so I had to limit my efforts to special trees.
A lot of our problems those two days were due to the fact we no longer own a snow shovel. And while one would have come in handy, I still have no intention of buying one. We resorted instead to using a garden shovel, which was very ineffective. Brooms were only good for the shrubs and trees and not for moving snow from the paths. Once we realized we weren’t making any progress, we stayed inside and enjoyed the view, letting the sun do all the work of snow removal.
Luckily, I hadn’t gotten the chance to prune my rose bushes as I usually do in mid-February. Pruning, you may remember, spurs on new growth and that would have been the last thing the roses needed before the cold weather. Same with the hardy fuchsia. I also knew the snow would act as an insulating blanket for the cold night temperatures. Perennials like primrose and daffodil bulbs would be fine as well, liking a bit of cold weather for a better bloom. I also hadn’t pruned any ferns back yet, leaving that until later this coming week. Just in case.
There were quite a few Euonymus shrubs that I hadn’t gotten around to clearing that had broken branches from the weight of the snow. These I pruned off below the break as soon as the weather cleared. Boxwood, Escallonia and Sarcacocca were weighed down as well but were flexible enough that they didn’t break. My poor Hellebores were once again wilted in the cold, but they, too, perked back up once the weather improved. My one concern is my Daphne odora, which is finicky in the best of times. I will be cautious before removing plants that I think might have died and not lift them until well into spring just in case they will rebound.
I understand from people who have lived in Tillamook County a long time that there was a similar storm in the mid 1960’s but since I didn’t know – or care – about the weather when I was in grade school except for a school project or two, snow in Tillamook would have been outside my realm of understanding. I just hope it’s another 20 plus years before we see it again.