Drive to Olympia turns into winter treat

By Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin

For The Vidette

As I drove to Olympia and back home to Elma one day last week, the weather was a degree of spectacular that can only be observed on a crisp, crystal clear winter’s day.

The sun shone brilliantly on snow-encased trees for miles as I passed through the Black Hills east of McCleary, practically convincing me it was actually still a month or so earlier. The tall, green conifers could well have been statuesque Christmas trees, their branches dazzling my eyes with layers of snow so intensely white it almost hurt to look at them.

The leafless branches of the evergreens’ deciduous cousins were encased in what could have passed for plaster of paris, which I still recall a family friend mixing to turn out some lovely Christmas creations when I was a small child. That those branches appeared to be completely still added to the illusion, and it was difficult not to allow the scenes I was passing to draw my eyes from the highway for too long a time.

Though I wasn’t on foot, it almost seemed an unexpected opportunity to go “walking in a winter wonderland.” Being under time constraints, though, I didn’t do that.

I did have a bit of time before an appointment when I arrived in Olympia at Jay’s Farm Stand on Harrison Avenue. I smiled seeing a small snowman standing near one of the huge wooden bins of fragrant fuji apples.


Though we’d received a lovely snowfall in Elma a few days previously (I watched it fall about 2:30 a.m.), ours was nearly gone. And I never learned whether Olympia’s was new or if the recent frigid temperatures had just kept the snow in that area — maybe more than we’d received — from melting as quickly as ours.

As there was none on the roads there, I think that might have been the case. It brought to mind, though, how I’ve long been thankful that I have no power whatsoever when it comes to creating the weather. Though I delight in the beauty the “white stuff” brings with it, I am also apprehensive whenever our roadways become as slick as the proverbial skating rink. Enough mayhem happens out there without the added challenge of driving in inclement weather.

It’s others I’m concerned about.

I don’t go out when the roads are covered. And even if I were an accomplished foul-weather driver (which I’m not), I’m never the only one on the road (which might be a good thing, at times).



Though the Bible mentions snow in a number of references, it doesn’t promise there will be snow in heaven. But Alan Conrow, pastor of a church in South Lyon, Michigan, and an occasional blogger, thinks there will be. He likes snow, Conrow blogged, though he still he finds it “hard to live with sometimes.”

But if heaven’s surprises include snow, Conrow’s not worried.

“If there is snow in heaven (and I’m pretty sure there will be), it will always be fun and good,” he wrote.” I don’t know how that will work, but I can’t wait to find out.”

Popular contemporary Christian artist, Chris Tomlin, would likely agree. His song, “Indescribable,” ponders God’s creation “from the highest of heights to the depths of the sea” and poses the rhetorical question: “Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow.”

Regardless of the difficulties a snowfall might cause, the joy it can also bring carries me back 60-plus years, as I recall my siblings and me dog-piled on a sled — my oldest brother, Douglas, always on the bottom — hurtling down a hill covered so deep that the ground never showed through.

I don’t recall any of us ever getting injured doing that either. The worst we suffered was having to make our way back to the top of the hill — to do it all over again.

To reach columnist Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin, send an email to