Friday, November 14, 2014

Arctic Incursion

I'm sitting in the Friendly House wondering where in hell this damn arctic blast came from. Well, okay, I know WHENCE it came — I just said as much — but I'm still reeling in incredulity at the timing and ferocity of the frigid tendril that crept down the Columbia Gorge the day before yesterday out of the middle of the continent. It feels like Portland's getting a prolonged prostate exam by some naughty jǫtunn! It completely blind-sided us (especially those of us living outside!), practically shutting half the city down when the freezing rain and snow flurries swept over us yesterday; you have to understand, this time of year the average low is just above forty (5°C) and the average high just above fifty (11°C). And, it's not over yet: wind chill will push temperatures in the twenties (-2°C) down into the teens (-10°C) starting tonight and lasting through until Sunday night, after which the weather is predicted to slowly creep back up toward the seasonal average. I hope so, and we end up with the mild winter, but even NOAA seems to be rather poor at making long-term predictions; it's certainly time to begin preparing for the worse.

Fortunately, I've only suffered mild discomfort so far, and that mostly yesterday when the Friendly House was closed all day because of how poorly equipped Portland is to handle ice and snow. I ended up canning most of the day because there's really not much for a person living on the streets to do when most everything's closed. Well, there is, but other than meandering from one grocery store to another in order to warm up while loitering an hour or two at a time the only places to go that are warm are the daytime warming centers, which are usually packed to the gills with the more cantankerous and malodorous ne'er do well among street folk. I'll have to be in danger of more than mere discomfort to bring myself to dine at a grim soup-line mockery of Valhalla's tables. We'll see how my gear holds up over the next couple nights, though, and even though I'm a dignified person I'm not so foolish as to risk hospitalization for frostbite or pneumonia just to steer clear of the more troglodyte among my kin.

I don't think it will come to anything more than maybe a repeat of yesterday's nickel-scrounging on Sunday when the Friendly House is closed again and the library's only open for five hours. And, even then, I can just jump on the light rail and ride back and forth between Gresham and Hillsboro reading and writing if I weary of the cold and the tedium. One nice effect of the sudden and lingering cold snap is that I'm less interested in drinking, and not just because I'm averse to dying from exposure; who in Dante's ninth circle of hell in his right mind would want to drink cold beer in freezing weather? Well, the likes of Captain Caveman would, and I'm sure did, but I'm not even fractionally as obstinate in my foolishness as the more hard-core drunk among my peers are. If it ever came down to having to steal to support my alcoholic habit, I'd simply kick my habit; even now, though I am surely an addict, I don't beg or borrow in order to alleviate the symptoms of physical withdrawals (which fortunately I only seldom allow to occur) — I just bite the bullet and feel like crap for a day or two if I can't or don't feel like canning up the money.

Wish me luck for the next two or three days! And feel free to flip off the North Pole with me in sympathy, or perhaps even solidarity.

1 comment:

  1. "Portland's getting a prolonged prostate exam by some naughty jǫtunn!" Ha! (Ouch!)
    Wishing you luck...and holding my middle-finger aloft in solidarity! :-)