[This updated and expanded history was written by Paul Dorpat & edited by Sally Anderson]

Can We Really Believe What We Read About Snowfall?

1880 Big Snow, looking east on Cherry Street from Front Street (First Ave.
1880 Big Snow, looking east on Cherry Street from Front Street (First Ave.)

Some of us do not trust snow reporting.  Many of us do not trust snow.  When even a merciful snow is dropped upon us, persons and performances we looked forward to meeting or attending are missed.  But a snowfall that stays put brings opportunities.  For instance, while missing events, especially those we were not particularly keen for or even dreaded, we can clean our room or attend to other neglected projects, like relationships at home. Most often we feel fortunate to live beside our comfortable Puget Sound.  But the unexpected — a brimming snow like this Big Snow of 2008 — may enliven us.

Here at DorpatSherrardLomont we are are pepped up to write a history of all our big snows.  Frankly, there have not been that many.  So we will also add some other oddities that have appeared out of the sky or merely rolled in and then out again since that “night of shock” when Seattle founder Arthur Denny discovered that the barrel of pork he purchased and stored high on the waterfront disappeared into the freezing dark of the settlers’ first really “big weather” – the winter of 1852-53….

(For more of this fascinating story, click here)

SEATTLE NOW & THEN – Gliding on Green Lake

Each week we will post images from the current Times’ ‘Seattle Now and Then’ article.

Just mouseclick on the photos below to see them in larger format with greater detail.

The Freeze of 1916
Taken on a sloppy Christmas day in 2008, just before melting began in earnest

Below, here are a few more from that same snow taken on the other side of the lake. And while it didn’t freeze over this time round, it certainly provided an unusual playground.

(repeat click on photos to see full size)

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Winter light

Great for portraits! I had lunch with Leslie at the Green Lake Bar & Grill yesterday, and the slanting occluded sunlight made everything magic. Here’s Les and a baby girl who happened to be sitting behind us with her parents and twin brother. See how they glow.

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Frost and mist

In the Hillside forest yesterday, about 700 feet above sea level, the morning mist deposited frozen crystals. I thought at first that someone had sprayed threads of silly string around the trees, but it was strands of spiderweb, previously invisible.

(repeat click to see the crystals)


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Une Passion Périgourdine (A Tale of Truffles)

The Tuber  Melanosporum divinely ornaments all that it accompanies. Finely sliced in an omelette,  slipped under the skin of poultry, or melted in cheese, its perfume is so powerful and unforgettable that it is recognized as the jewel of Périgord and called “black diamond”.

Although other regions are producing some bigger quantities, the truffles from Sorges and Sarlat remain the stars of the appellation.

The harvest of this  little underground mushroom is from December to January; the two fairs in Sarlat and Sorges crown the season.

La Tuber Mélanosporum ou truffe noire du Périgord agrémente divinement tout ce qu’elle accompagne, émincée dans une omelette, glissée sous la peau d’une poularde, ou fondue dans un fromage, son  parfum est si puissant et inoubliable , qu’elle est unanimement reconnue comme le joyau du Périgord et à ce titre  est surnommée “diamant noir”…

Bien que d’autres régions en produisent de plus grandes quantités, les truffes de Sorges et de Sarlat demeurent les stars de l’appellation.

Ce petit champignon souterrain se récolte l’hiver de Décembre à janvier, et les deux foires de Sarlat et de Sorges couronnent la saison.


Hunting truffles is a Perigourdian tradition and also a passion. In 1870 truffles were really abundant:  6 tonnes in Sorges against 32 kilogs prized in the market today; but the change of climate, the over harvesting of the truffiers during  the two wars provoked its disappearance. Now finding a truffle is always a gift.

La recherche de la truffe est une vraie tradition et aussi une passion périgourdine, en 1870 la truffe était très abondante : 6 tonnes à Sorges, contre 32 kilogs primés  au marché cette année , mais le changement de climat, l’abandon des truffières pendant les guerres ont provoqué sa disparition , maintenant  c ‘est toujours un don du ciel, lorsque l’on en découvre une.


To find the truffles, Pierre’s little dog Tess is extraordinary.  Pierre encourages her and says : “Cherche Tess, cherche” and she runs happily and shows the spot with her front  leg.

Pour chercher les dons du ciel, la petite chienne de Pierre est extraordinaire, elle parcourt la truffière joyeusement  pendant que Pierre l’encourage: “cherche Tess, cherche” , elle s’arrête et montre d’un trait avec la patte avant , l’endroit où se trouve la truffe.

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And here are a few snapshots of the markets in Sarlat and Sorge:



Of course, before buying truffles, you must smell them.


And the weighing of the truffles is serious business.
Le moment de la pesée de la truffe  est très sérieux.


Only 21 grammes.
Seulement 21 grammes…



And here are the members of the confrérie in Sorges who give the prize for the best truffle:


Also while we were coming back home, I couldn’t help to admire every castle at every curve of the road, thinking of the richness of this country and dreaming of all the diamonds buried in the woods…

Dans le sillage des truffes, au retour, comme toujours nous découvrions un chateau à chaque tournant, et je ne pouvais m’empêcher de m’extasier sur ce Périgord magnifique et imaginer des diamants noirs enfouis dans les sous-bois.


John Siscoe at GLOBE BOOKS


John Siscoe – with wife Carolyn – has owned and operated the Globe in Seattle for 30 years. One of our region’s finest small bookstores, it specializes in history and literature. A hundred feet north of Elliott Bay Books in Pioneer Square, this little gem and its astonishingly knowledgeable proprietor merit a visit.

In the interests of full disclosure, John and I founded the Globe Radio Repertory in the mid-80s and spent nearly 10 years making radio drama for NPR (see the Jean’s Radio Theatre link in our blogroll).

When you drop by, ask John about his doing the first unauthorized English translation of a late Samuel Beckett novel – and Beckett’s stunning response.


At Seattle Center on Monday evening, the Winter Solstice Fire Festival lit up the grounds. Delayed for several weeks due to weather, the flames warmed the winter night.  Are these the fires that were denied Bumbershoot? (Ah, that now-forbidden closing ceremony! with Durkee and dancers and legerdemain! sigh…)

A little photo tour follows. First, ‘Fire Pod’ created by Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz. The steel sculpture stands eleven feet high and is twenty feet in diameter. The flames are controlled through a midi interface. Eerie percussive sounds synch with bursts of flame.  Next, the fire-dance troupe Pyrosutra performs around the base of the fountain.

Flame on!

And afterwards, walking back to my car, a forlorn conjunction. We howl and dance against the dying of the light, but some just go gentle in the night.


Snow in Paris!

The snow is always very shy in Paris, it lasted only one day, here is Notre Dame and two sisters…

(click to enlarge)


At the first grain of snow, parisians spread salt to avoid ice, so the streets become very muddy, the parcs are closed, and only a few places are white like the surroundings of notre-Dame.  Do you salt the snow?