“You’re going to have a lot of fun here,” said the woman, giggling as we entered and she exited the supermarket this morning. We grabbed the last cart and wheeled it toward the produce section. But wait. Where did the bananas go? The broccoli? The apples? The lettuce?
I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest all my life and until today have never seen anything like today’s empty grocery shelves. It’s the weather’s fault.
Our weather is never showy, much like the bland natives here. In the 1880’s out largest ethnic group consisted of immigrants from Norway, that is, people who came to fish, build boats and cut down trees. For excitement they formed lodges — Sons of Norway, Daughters of Norway, Norwegian Male Chorus, Norwegian Ladies chorus — ate lutefisk and skied. More than a hundred years later, things haven’t changed. “Seattle has become one of the largest ‘Norwegian cities‘ in the United States.”
The weather here mirrors these taciturn, staid people. (My husband is part Norwegian and his aunt and uncle ate lutefisk, also known as lye fish, so I feel free to stereotype.)
But back to the weather. We’ve no hurricanes, no blistering heat waves, no blizzards, it’s rarely too hot, or too cold. But this week we have snow, not a big event in many parts of the country but a very big deal here. The snow started Sunday, went through Monday, and started up again today.
All week weather forecasters have had a heyday, sucking up much of a thirty-minute newscast with maps of where the snow would first hit, where it would travel next, at what hour it would begin, and when it would stop. Reporters kept busy sticking their rulers in the snow in every surrounding community to show us how many inches had accumulated. Of course it’s not a simple snowstorm, it’s “snowpocalypse.”
Cities in our part of the country do not invest heavily in snow removal equipment, which means that streets are often impassable and people are stuck in their homes. This explains why so many people have hung out at the supermarket the past two days and creating a setting that matches the kitchen of Old Mother Hubbard.
After standing in the longest checkout line in my personal history of grocery shopping — there was a similar line for each all eight cash registers and self-checkout — we asked the checker how she was holding up. “When I went home last night I was exhausted, but I told myself it would be a lot less busy today,” she said as she collapsed over her register. Looking outside, I’d say the rush to shop is over. Now the checker will have to face miles of backup on the roads as everyone leaves work early to avoid traffic.