Winter in Bellingham, Washington….this is something that many people warned me about. They tried to rain on my parade regarding relocating to Bellingham. Having lived my entire life in Hawaii and Arizona I certainly didn’t know what winter would be like in the PNW, but I wasn’t worried. I craved the difference , craved wearing scarves and coats and boots and hats. I got all of those things, and a few I didn’t expect.
It’s DARK. Technically this starts in the Fall, but by the time it is officially winter, the darkness is an issue. I knew the sun set earlier in the winter, but I didn’t imagine that at 4:30 in the afternoon it would be pitch black, like it was midnight. It made my days feel hurried and short. I didn’t lose the hours, but it sure felt like I had.
Silver lining? Holiday lights. People put up lots of holiday lights. Strings of lights through homes and on porches and in the trees made the darkness beautiful.
Windy in the B’ham!
Wind storms came with the rain,and for the first time in my life trees became a little scary. I live in Sudden Valley, which is like having a home in an enchanted forest (with a crazy HOA). When the wind is blowing though, the creaking and snapping of this enchanted forest definitely gives you pause…and an occasional heart attack because the trees DO come down occasionally. It felt more scary when I was outside walking Daisy. Though I know a car and a home are not safe, they FEEL safe.
Silver Lining? The silver lining of the wind that it reminds you to look up, to look at the trees, to appreciate how lucky you are to be there, to be among them, in a little “tree house” in the PNW.
By bugs I don’t mean actual insects….I mean sicknesses. I don’t know if there are actual colds and flues that are particular to Bellingham, or even the northwest, but I do know that after a rather impressive stretch (if I do say so myself) of healthiness I got SICK. The word ‘sick’ in all caps because that is how sick I was. The second week of December. I lost days. Fever, cold symptoms. Out for the count, and I didn’t really recover for weeks. I wasn’t the only one. Lots of residents in the area get sick in the winter time, and it is pretty gnarly sick if I say so myself.
Silver Lining? Only that maybe now I have built up an immunity to that Bellingham Bug, and I won’t be plagued with it again next year. One can only hope.
Snow in Bellingham
It DOES snow in Bellingham. This year, 2019, it was impressive by most people’s standards. I have been in snow many times, I used to ski and snowboard back when I was cool. In Bellingham, snow is magical. It really is. I have never seen anything more beautiful than the snow as it came down on February 3rd. We got lots of snow this year, and not all of it is wonderful….but I still loved it. In Sudden Valley the roads didn’t get plowed, really ever if talking about the side streets. The roads you use to get into town from Sudden Valley were plowed, but ice was always a concern. People said they use all weather tires or chains on their tires. I have never done either thing, and didn’t own either, so I stayed put. Which in itself, is kind of wonderful.
Walking Daisy during the snow days was magical not only because of the quiet that the snow brings, but also because I met SO MANY neighbors that I hadn’t ever seen before. Kids of all ages were out sledding on the streets and hills in Sudden Valley. Young men snowboarded down the center of Alabama Street in town. People built huge snow men, and snow ladies, and snow bears. Neighbors shoveled each other’s driveways. Those with big trucks checked on those of us that were homebound. Internet jokes ran rampant with mad rushes to get milk and bread before the snow came. The story book house with the wood burning stove and the warm lights and snow on the roof was every single house (it seemed). The snow made what is always beautiful even more special.
The ugly underbelly? Food runs low, your family members drive you crazy, school gets cancelled late every day so you can’t plan for days your kid has to stay home. Lots of car crashes due to inadequate tires or no chains, all kinds of drama because everyone is out of de-icer and sand and where are the plows. Restaurants close, grocery stores close early, and ice and snow stick around for a LONG time after the awesomeness of the first few days, especially out in Sudden Valley and outside of town.
Winter is Wonderful
The bottom line is, for those of you that haven’t lived in the pacific northwest before, it is still wonderful. It is cold enough to wear hats and scarves and boots, but it isn’t that terrible bone chilling freeze that I have read about. You can even still hike and walk the trails if you have good shoes with lots of tread. You will meet your neighbors shoveling your driveway, and you know that it is all temporary, because weather changes quickly in Washington and you can always count on that. Spring will be happening soon and who doesn’t love spring?
Best to be prepared if it will be your winter in the northwest. There are sun lamps to help with depression for the darkness, and all weather tires and snow chains are only useful if you are prepared before the snow. Buy more hats and gloves and mittens then you think you will need, they go missing at an alarming rate. Buy shoes with the right tread for the snow and the ice…and wear them…and maybe you won’t end up like me, with a 3 broken bones in your ankle from stepping out onto the street one icy evening.