Our recent snowfall and accompanying freeze brought with them a certain amount of distress: traffic tie-ups, crashes and broken water pipes among them.
But it also produced some beautiful things, both in the landscape of Southern Oregon and among its residents.
Even if you were white-knuckled while creeping along an icy road, you couldn't help but admire the snow-crested trees and expanses of white stretching across fields usually adorned in drab brown this time of year. Maybe it's because we seldom live with prolonged winter that it looks so beautiful when it does drop its magic across our hills and valleys.
There's another kind of magic that appears during times of inclement weather or dangerous conditions: the magic of basic human goodness, which in other times often seems in scant supply.
In the midst of the deep freeze, all sorts of unsung heroes stepped forward to help out their friends, their neighbors and total strangers as communities pulled together in the face of a common threat.
Here are just a couple of stories, representing the hundreds of tales of good deeds that occurred in small and large ways over the past several days:
Lyn Hennion tells of a group of teens and 20-somethings who came to the rescue of drivers near the intersection of Black Oak Drive and Hillcrest Road as they tried to climb the Black Oak slope. Cars spun out as drivers struggled to find their way home while darkness was setting in. Hennion writes:
"When I couldn't get traction on a little bit of a grade, they pushed me into a driveway, where I told them I had chains (and even knew how to put them on!). They said, "Oh, no, Ma'am, we'll do that for you!" And they did! And wouldn't accept a tip of any sort. They were just two of at least six young men (and at least one young woman) who were absolutely phenomenal — just the sort of folks that make me proud of the great spirit of Medford!"
Elsewhere in town, on Stevens Street, Craig Horton found that even a slow pace was no safeguard against a slide off the road in a curve. As he pondered his options, another car rounded the curve and slid "gently" into his car. There was apparently not a lot of damage, but both vehicles were stuck.
With an estimate of four hours before a tow truck could be dispatched, it looked like the drivers were either in for a long wait or a long walk. But neighbors and other drivers, directed by a Medford police officer, Jared Schmeck, came to the rescue, ganging up to separate the two cars and get them pushed back onto the road, from where the two drivers gratefully — and slowly — made their way home.
"The big lesson in this experience," writes Horton, "is we have a great city with a lot of good people that live here."
There were many, many other acts of kindness that night and in the following days, as people came together in a way that sadly can be all too foreign during ordinary times.
It's said that when times are tough, the tough get going. It's reassuring that when times get tough, we're also willing to make sure our neighbors and even total strangers can get going.
If you have a story to tell about your experience in the snow, ice and freezing temperatures, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it off at our office at 111 N. Fir St., Medford, and we'll include it in an upcoming collection of stories about the storm and its aftermath.