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La Grande Observer Daily paper 09/19/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Jeff Petersen: ON SECOND THOUGHT arrow Deck rink launches gold medal performance

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Deck rink launches gold medal performance

One step onto the deck at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and I was doing an ice-skating routine worthy of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

I slid left. Swooshed right. Did a pirouette. 

Before I caught my balance, I had completed a flying camel spin, a salcow (pronounced “sow-cow”), a toe loop, an axel and a toe loop jump. The raccoon judges, who like me live in a manufactured home, except smaller, the tube next door, scored my routine a 99.9. Raccoons know nothing about judging ice skating.

Freezing rain? I thought. We don’t get freezing rain in Northeast Oregon.

Problem was, I had parked the Prius Snow Leopard at the top of the waterfall I call a driveway. Schools might close. Work carries on. I had to find a way to get to work with my car and me intact.

I grabbed my backpacker’s head lamp and assessed the situation. Plan A — my driveway — looked like a sheet of ice. I walked across the yard and assessed Plan B — my neighbor’s driveway. That driveway has more gravel than my goat trail, but a bit of the Ice Age that occurred in December still lingers at the bottom of a hill and on a sharp curve. Miss that curve and I end up making a visit to another neighbor who lives in a nifty Victorian home on the banks of Mill Creek.

I had an hour before I had to take the plunge. I decided to emulate the Oregon Department of Transportation and make Plan B passable. First, I went to the wood stove and collected all the ashes I could find. I hadn’t cleaned out the beast in a while and it donated generously to the cause. Then I sprinkled a bag of salt. Next, I added two boxes of cat litter, much to the dismay of Mattie, my main cat, and Sophie, my auxiliary cat, who already have separation anxiety issues.

Finally, after a hearty breakfast of a prune and an almond, the breakfast of champions for 50-plus males, all things being prepared, I took a deep breath and jumped in the car. I drove across the ice-speckled yard to where it intersects with the neighbor’s driveway, turned down the hill and prayed. 

Prayer works. 

I survived and got to work, alarming co-workers to no end with my permanently startled look. They looked back over their shoulders to see if something was sneaking up on them.

Winter, as anyone with the brainpower of a rutabaga knows, is an adventure in Northeast Oregon. But it could be worse. In Minnesota, where I lived, we got freezing rain even more frequently than we got professional wrestlers for governor. Jessie Ventura, where are you now?

Minnesota was famous for 20 degrees and raining. Life isn’t fair. Rain falls on the just, the unjust and wrestling governors with large vocabularies.

A report in Wednesday’s Observer explained just why freezing rain happens. It’s to do with inversions. Temperatures aloft are way warmer than they are at the surface. Rains fall and freezes when it hits the tundra.

The point is, no matter how bad things get, it is probably worse in some other part of the country. It took me a half hour Wednesday to get to work, from Cove to La Grande. The rest of the nation, however, is in even more of a deep freeze, including the Deep South. The intrepid folks at the Weather Channel reported taking four hours in gridlock to complete their commute to work in usually balmy Atlanta.

Jim Cantore, Superman meteorologist, was, as usual, in the heart of the storm cracking ice off the magnolias.

The bigger point is, you can’t control Mother Nature. You just have to ride out her tantrums and be happy that we’re now completing what typically is the coldest week of the winter. The days are getting longer, the air getting warmer. 

The toe loop jumps are getting less loopy.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.

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