The Only Good Thing About Snow

Creative Commons--Ian Britton

I grew up in Alberta, which meant real winter. We had winter in the winter, we had winter in the fall. Sometimes we had winter  in the spring…almost always and we even had some winter on a rare occasion in summer.

Winter was cold and snowy. Sometimes winter was deep, with a windchill factor of -40 or -60. In most cases we still trudged to school, wrapped thicker than the Michelin tire man and the Pillsbury dough boy put together. When I was little I was perennially late for school and exhausted from dragging my little self through all the snow. Snow was evil, snow was cold. Winter was no fun and sometimes my nostrils would free shut while walking and a crusty layer of ice would form on a scarf, or worse, the balaclava we wore over our faces. You know the ones; bank robbers favor them now.

The indignities of snow and winter meant fashion nightmare even before I was old enough to really care about fashion. But no kid wanted to wear the geeky balaclavas. In our house, two of our bedrooms were in the basement, mostly below ground, where the furnace somehow didn’t send any heat. And the floors were cold linoleum on cold concrete, in a city where the ground freezes in the winter. But we were lucky in Calgary, compared to Edmonton, because we got chinooks, which is when a warm front moves through, turning the clouds into a chinook arch, and brining a reprieve with melting snow.

When I was about six I remember my older siblings building an igloo in the back yard. We had enough snow for it and I think it was only about three feet high but they were cutting blocks of snow and then pouring cold water on it to freeze. I remember an igloo shape; whether it truly was or just an open fort I don’t really know.

But the only good thing about snow, as far as I was concerned, was that very first snowfall of the year. Calgary is dry so the snow would be dry and big and flaky. It would drift out of the dark sky falling like powder over the ground. The best was at night, if I was up at my friend’s and I got to walk home late. The snowfall, usually enough to carpet everything was like diamonds under the street light. It of course warmed everything up and it sparkled and glinted. The virgin fall would be untread by cars or footprints and I would be walking through a new landscape. Everything was muffled in this snowy white blanket. Any car or dog, always heard in the far distance, was far far away and very faint. I felt like I was the only one in all the world and it was so tranquil. I loved that aspect of snow.

But these days, as I did then, I believe that snow should stay in the mountains where it belongs and where it is of use. Vancouver’s snow is wet and moist, sticky and damp. It soaks through everything and you can’t get traction for yourself or your vehicle. I especially hate it here because of that and because we’re in a climate that isn’t supposed to get snow. So I will always vote for no snow but remember those tranquil evenings when the first snowfall was magical, before it turned to slush.

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90 Comments

Filed under Culture, environment, memories, weather

90 responses to “The Only Good Thing About Snow

  1. I, too, live in a place where snow tends to stay in the mountains (Lake Tahoe) while I drive free of chains and worries (Reno). It is the best of both worlds! 🙂

  2. Living in Texas I rarely see snow. For me it’s always magical, but I do think it would get old if I got it every single year. I guess that’s what makes it so magical…because it’s so rare.

    http://www.runtobefit.wordpress.com

  3. Hey neighbor up north. We don’t get -60 here in South Dakota, but it sure gets cold … and ugly. So you’re right; that first fall, or first blizzard, is usually beautiful until the dirt and yellow snow mixed in … then, not so pretty. Great post!

  4. Funny how our view of snow changes as we get older. When I was a kid I wanted my birthday to bring snow, maybe so I could at least get a school delay. Now I wish I were in Hawaii on my birthday. Or any day really. You have faced more of that white stuff than I could possibly imagine and sixty below doesn’t even compute. But there is always that magical bit just at the beginning. It’s as wonderful as this post of yours. Take care.
    http://www.eduClaytion.com

  5. signelect

    Great article and the sentiment were heart felt. We live in Houston now and I would love to have some snow. When I retire I am moving north so that I can enjoy that first snow fall.

  6. i live in a northern state and i love to ski, and love how pretty snow can be…but i get over it by january and just want it to stay on the mountain.
    http://dearexgirlfriend.com/

  7. We just had our first “serious” snow of the year here in St. Louis a couple of days ago – our first snow actually fell on Thanksgiving. Being a Cajun from Louisiana, while we do get occasional snow, we tend not to like it.

    I used to live in New York on Long Island and one year we had three foot of snow overnight. What a royal pain – though I did build an igloo for my siblings.

    And around that time I got to experience lake effect snow while visiting a friend in Ontario. It appeared like a curtain and felt like a blizzard. With the exception of the fan, my engine was encased in ice, and since I didn’t have a block heater, my friend’s family graciously lent their garage for my car overnight in Sudbury.

    Snow’s fun to play in… for about five minutes, and then I’m done. It’s bitterly cold here – for here – and my eldest child desperately wants to sled in it… Ugh. I know full well that about five minutes after we go outside, he’ll want to get back inside… and oh the layering and unlayering.

  8. the way you describe it sounds really nice and beautiful. nice post.

    http://enjoibeing.wordpress.com/

  9. Fantastic post. I grew up in BC and absolutely loved my rain-filled winters. Now I live in Montreal and have learned to “love” that first snow fall as well.

    I love the serenity after a snowfall — that blanketed quiet that falls over a rural street as the padded sidewalks and roads suck in all the random noises of the world around. It’s as if the world is settling in for a nap, pulling a large, white duvet up around its nose.

    But then I head to downtown Montreal for work and I’m greeted with the wet, slushy, nasty snow that cities are known for and I hate winter all over again.

    Until I can hit the mountain, snowboard in hand, and carve out a fresh trail of poofy, bright white snow — then I love it all again.

    Winter is bittersweet for all Canadians I’ve come to realize!
    Awesome post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Drive on,
    – M.

  10. humanitarikim

    I am not a fan of snow either, for logistic purposes. I will not argue it’s beauty, however! Great post!!

    http://humanitarikim.wordpress.com/

  11. Oh yes, keep the snow in the mountains. I grew up in the mountains of New Mexico with snow. It wasn’t so evil there, but I’ve always preferred summer weather. Now my hair resembles the snow and my Pittsburgh hillside driveway seems a mile long, and I would not miss snow if I never saw another flake!

  12. I love this description. I actually do love snow, but I see how evil and hazardous it can be.

  13. I feel you . . . but I’m a fan of snow. I’m legally blind, so I have to walk everywhere in it, rather than drive, but even when I’m slip-sliding around or falling on my ass, I still enjoy it. We’re expecting a few inches plus some ice here in southern Indiana tonight, so that part stinks . . . but I won’t mind the snow. The ice, however, can kindly bugger off 😉

    Great post, and congrats on being freshly pressed 🙂

  14. I accidentally found your page, I got caught by the title and got curious. Where I live rarely snows, I’ve never seen snow except on TV or photos. I live in Portugal, and there are places here where, obviously snows, but for some reason i’ve never seen it.
    A curious fact there was one cold day where it snowed it lots of places from north to south, on that day I was on the road moving from Sintra in the center to Portimao in the South, and it snowed in Sintra, Lisbon, èvora, Portimão, basically everywhere I drove by that day, and I didn’t got a glimpse of snow.
    I think snow doesn’t like me 🙂 lol

    Maybe if I grew up where you did, like you, I probably wouldn’t like much of snow either.-

    Merry Christmas

  15. Yes, that first snowfall at night is a pretty one. And I like the way it lights up the night so I don’t even have to turn my porch light on like I normally do in the dark night. But I’d like it even better if I never had to get out in it and could just stay inside with some hot cocoa, a good movie or book, and a bowl of homemade chicken and rice soup!
    Hope your season is filled with joy and peace, but NO SNOW! …unless your feeling nostalgic. 🙂

  16. transplantednorth

    this post makes our Rochester winters wimpy in comparison. My kids have also learned how to build igloos,a very useful talent in our modern society today!I recently just wrote a post on how to bring on a snow day, but if we closed every time we got a significant snowfall, our kids would be going to school way into the summer.

    Stay warm and congrats on being freshly pressed.

    • colleenanderson

      In Vancouver, if there is even an inch of snow there are schools that close but then most of us don’t have snow tires and the stuff is super slippery. And thanks.

  17. I lived in Toronto when I was young. I don’t remember suffering, just snowball fights.

  18. Snow can only be lovely, as far as I am concerned, for the month of December. There is some magic that can only be found in that month. After that snow is evil and threatening, wearing out its welcome by February. Loved your post and congrats on being freshly pressed.

  19. I love the snow — when I am inside and I can stay inside. And, if I have to go outside I love the snow when the roads are plowed and when I don’t have to scrape my car. Maybe brush it off — but NOT scrape. I love the snow when it is 30 degrees out because it isn’t so cold that I’m hating it but it is cold enough for the snow.

    Crystal
    ww.crystalspins.com

  20. I agree. Snow is pretty only on day one. After that it can go back to the mountains as you say.

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

  21. As a child I remember one winter in New York City. We lived on 119 Street between Second and Third. The snow was so heavy, that it took over a week for parked cars to get out their parking slots. The drifts alone were higher than ten feet. At the end of the snow fall, latter in the week, snow plows attempted to clear our street for thru traffic. The plows themselves ended up getting stuck in the snow! In this part of Texas, Dallas-Ft.Worth area, snow is a joke. After living here, for over forty-five years, I feel so blessed in no longer having to deal with the harsh winters of the North.

    • colleenanderson

      LOL, I agree. Vancouver had terrible snow two years ago and there wasn’t enough plows even for the main roads. It was terrible and took many plants a year to recover.

  22. I have to admit that snow is beautiful….but its….ugh it’s snow! lol I wrote a post on how I feel about snow. It’s “Boycott Snow” and my blog:

    http://www.tiallarising.wordpress.com

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed! 🙂

    -Tia

  23. nicolebourque

    I live in Alaska and it’s -40 where I’m at today. The snow isn’t too bad here, it’s usually dry and the wind blows it off the road. But the ice…the ice is what kills us!

    PS congrats on being freshly pressed!!!

  24. In upstate New York, we have snow. I tell myself, the good thing about the snow is the shoveling…….I stay in shape! Thanks for the post.

  25. In some part of the world it is everything, like Kashmir all the water source is this snow. anyway great post.

    • colleenanderson

      Good point. Yes, we need snow and rain to keep the water reservoirs up and the fires down but it can still go fall in the mountains. 🙂

  26. I grew up in a freezing-cold, snow-filled town myself, and even though I hated shoveling (for literal HOURS) and getting that awful sticky-nostril feeling, I still love snow. It’s gorgeous, and I love sledding and snowboarding, so it works out well. But I do know what you mean about the first snow being so magical and then after a while, simply irritating…I’m of the opinion that snow shouldn’t linger past January, although in my town we’ve had showers as late as May.
    Anyway, congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Great post! 🙂

  27. I grew up in Farrell, PA– now that’s winter too lol

  28. Sorry but I love snow.
    We lived in Minneapolis for many years and when it was clear and sunny it was darn cold. Ice would build up inside of the windows!
    But here in Baltimore when we have snow we have our traditions of hot chocolate and chili and caramel popcorn and even driving the four wheel is fun.
    We just loves it!

  29. zana4

    In Michigan we’ve had a snow storm started on Sunday and the last two days the roads have been all ice. What normally would take me 45 minutes to get work has taken me 2 1/2 hours. Freshly fallen snow with temps in the 30’s is the best!

  30. Fad

    I live in the country without snow. just there are 2 seasons here. I really want to see the snow falling down to earth. I think it’s beautiful moment. I want to feel spring and fall/autumn. hmmmm

  31. HUH? Did it snow out again? Oh wait thats what the white stuff is that hasn’t stopped falling since last night! 18hrs and there was a foot of snow to shovel from in from of my work! Thank goodness I just call and the head office sends over guys in warm coveralls to do the back breaking work. We are open evenings mainly so I was in no hurry to get them here this morning. It’s been 3hrs since they was here and it looks like I may have to shovel before my assistant gets here to take over! Thats what i get for living in the north! Now to convince my kids that it is fun to shovel the whole driveway so mommy can go to work in the morning! LOL!

  32. Snow is great… mostly. Where I live it gets cold but it does not usually snow more than a half inch or so. And that sad half inch I have to shovel off the driveway.

  33. I just wrote a short post about growing up in Canada and what winter was like too. It’s more about the nicer memories but I remember what -60 with the WC felt like too, I don’t miss that! Snow is good for cushioning your car when you go in the ditch.

    http://cdnexpat.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/ode-to-a-snowstorm/

  34. Jules

    Hi. I live in a tropical country. This post makes me wish for a one day snowfall. 🙂

  35. I never experience snow, coz living in southern Asia.
    Thanks for posting & commenting.

  36. A lovely article about snow. I too appreciate the magical aspect of snowfall, but I also hate it when it disrupts traffic and means I can’t see people because of it, even where I live in the UK.

  37. As an Albertan living in Oz, it gave me tingles to read your romantic description of a snowfall. That’s how I like to remember it, and I choose to forget about the slush, the frozen chin smiles and the steering wheel that burns your hands if you aren’t wearing gloves :-).

    Thanks for the post and a big congrats on being freshly pressed!

  38. I can’t stand snow. I live in BC. I’d take rain any day. People that live here and say they “like” snow either don’t drive, or are the idiots that speed by waiting for a car crash to happen.

  39. I grew up in Saskatchewan with the same massive amounts of snow, and I now live in Vancouver. I still love the snow. I hate the slush that it becomes here in Vancouver, but those days that it does stick… you can guarantee that I will be out there frolicking in that glorious white powder.

    Check out my poem about snow! http://milieus.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/the-snow-covered-streets-of-vancouver/

    ❤ Milieu

  40. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Good post and I felt like I could see that fresh blanket as you described it.

    I live in Toronto and we had a terrible snow day yesterday that brought traffic to its knees. Yuck! (posted here)

    http://workingtechmom.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/how-does-a-traffic-jam-lead-to-a-head-cold/

  41. Never quite had it as bad as you living in southeastern New England. Matter of fact it’s December 15th and we haven’t gotten any snow yet.

    But temps are plunging into the teens overnight. I’m prepared for it. I have an Edie Bauer parka rated to -20F

    For the life of me though I cannot imagine -60F wind chills. That’s hypothermia just waiting to happen.

    Had I mentioned I hate winter? I mean REALLY hate it. The cold, the snow, the ice. I wish all of it just went away and it was 80F during the day, maybe 60F overnight. Something like that would be paradise to me.

  42. Amazingly we just got some now here in Atlanta georgia, the southeast US! it was the “flakes swirling around your head” kind of snow and because we never get more than a light dusting, I love it!

  43. we never had and will never have snow here in our country, so living in a place where snow falls is still a dream for me and for many of us here.

  44. I miss Calgary..sniff. I miss John Laurie, Edgemont, Earl’s, Kensington, Eau Claire Market…and I miss snow!

    Congratulations Colleen!

  45. I agree – snow in Vancouver is no fun at all, especially since Vancouver driver’s are useless. Curiously a ten minute’s drive up to Cypress can be a magical experience. What a difference a thousand feet makes!

  46. I also have fond memories of watching the first snow fall as a child! It is still my favorite part of winter. Other than that, I dislike snow. It becomes all grey and slushy and icky. I too am in a climate that isn’t supposed to get snow, but some fell yesterday anyway! Here’s to short winters!

  47. The Chebec

    I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio…the eastside of Cleveland–the “Snow-belt” and we got the dreaded “lake effect snow.” Four inches in downtown meant eight inches for us. I was ok with snow as a kid. i wasn’t in love with it though.

    As i reached my teens I simply excepted snow as a fact of life. It was something to be avoided, something to stay away from as best you could. The whole idea of people purposely going out into it to “play didn’t make sense to me. Winter sports were wasted on me.

    Now as adult living in Seattle i don’t much have t deal with snow and that’s fine by me. I don’t miss it. And if i did i can go up to the Cascades and have all the snow i want. Usually i go back home around Christmas and that gives me all the “beauty” of snow that i need for a year.

  48. roger9527

    Feel very cold!

  49. Snow…is yet another “love/hate relationship”. If you don’t have anyplace to be, no matter what your age, you can’t beat the quiet and prettiness it brings; if you are caught out in it or simply MUST drive in it….well you know the rest. I was in Nashville recently for a rare December snow – I wrote it up over at achilliad.wordpress.com

    Major Props on being “pressed” like freshly fallen snow!

  50. for someone who lives in somewhere with no chance of snow, I welcome them! not the dirty slush though…

  51. Rindo

    Heh heh heh.

    I feel the same about the rains. I’m from the tropics, in that part of the world where it lashes torrents of rainfall for months on end, in which time EVERYTHING would be wet, down to the soggy doughnuts the minute they come out.

  52. I have only seen snow 2 days in my whole life and I just can’t help loving every bit of it…even slush.

  53. On the other hand I get sun all year round and and not so fond of the heat and humidity…I guess when something it rare we treasure it more.

  54. My wife says : “the snow is innecesary”

    But i thin like you. The first snow is beautiful.

    Regadrs from Spain

  55. Forrest

    Good post, man!

  56. Snow can surely be annoying when it paralyzes a city by making it really hard to move around on any means of transport. Still, I find it hard to declare that I hate snow… I totally love snow, it gives such a magic glow and unique atmosphere to landscapes, even ugly ones turn beautiful.

  57. Cordelia

    I used to *love* snow when I was little–it’s so peaceful, pure, and pretty. Funny how your appreciation of it changes when you start driving!

    Now that snow means brushing off my car and gritting my teeth the entire time I’m driving, I’d be happy with snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas and have that be it. Great relevant post–congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  58. I am in Manitoba, right smack in the middle of Canada… apparently we have the wickedest of winter winds. A true Northern Girl I have to say I love the snow – went without it for a few years in Arizona and missed it terribly. Love that evening snowfall…. it is the best thing about winter.

    Thanks for a great post and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    http://www.somethingtolearn.wordpress.com

  59. rautakyy

    I live here in my native country Finland. We have snow about four months of the year. We do not have actual mountains, though. Snow, or any other weather phenomenon is not a problem if you are prepared. Warm clothes, skis and riveted tyres make all the difference.

    Fashion is a disaster in it self. Stylish clothes are practical and look good even after decades or even centuries. Fashionable clothes look ridiculous in few years and are hardly ever wery practical.

    Great blog!

  60. You know, chinook means “snow-eater”. It’s so warm that the reason it’s called chinook is because it melts the snow. If I’m not wrong and if my geography skills are still with me, chinook is best known for being the wind that runs down the eastern slopes of the Rockies.
    I live in LA. As you’ve probably guessed, snow is a rare commodity.
    As an afterthought, we use palm trees for our Christmas trees.
    Ashley

    • colleenanderson

      Yes, however the geography worked, Calgary got the chinooks but Edmonton did not. They are theoretically both east of the Rockies but I guess Calgary won that lottery.

  61. oooauuu i’m from romania abd i know what means a hard winter……..but is strange for me to hear that can snow in summer….anyway…nice blog:D:D
    and sorry for typos:)

  62. Honestly, I always envied people who are lucky enough to experience winter and snowy nights in their lives. People from a country like mine (Philippines) would dream always dream of walking under the snow. Really, I always think of it as magical, but then, it is understandable that some people from the west hates it, just like how I hate the heat of the sun.

    Have a good winter.

  63. i love how the snow makes everything quiet. even in the middle of a busy city like Geneva (where I live), when everything is coated in snow, sounds are muted and the world is quiet for a moment. that is beautiful.

  64. You have a wonderful way with words, my friend. Although the first few paragraphs made me grab my sherpa blanket, I was wishing to partake of your winter wonderland by the end. This was well deserving of a FP status! Happy holidays! Stay warm!

  65. Pingback: More Photos From First Snow of Winter in Ocean City « Ocean City Blog

  66. Actually we are all searches for a place like this for our vacations.
    Unfortunately I can’t see such a place till now.
    But reading this I understood the problems of such places.

  67. Great post, thanks for sharing ! Lucky day

  68. enami

    it’s snowing here right now in amsterdam and it’s terrible!!! I hate it, but the again I love walking in the snow when noone walked on it before.

  69. managermamma

    We had a bit of snow in Rome and everything stopped, cars, buses, all means of transport. It took a friend of mine three hours to get home, a trip that usually would take half an hour.

  70. Great writing here! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. It’s great ain’t it?

  71. I live in Japan-Okinawa-Yaeyama-Ishigaki Island!!

    Our island has no snow!! all year-round!!!!

  72. Classic Canada. I live in Ottawa and it’s the same story, you love those first few weeks of winter but come January, things just turn to muddy slush. By that time, walking becomes more like wading in shallow waters.

  73. Hi,

    Living here in the United Kingdom, we have in the last 2 weeks experienced snow to some extreme, if you want to call 10 inches extreme that is, nothing compared to Canada. However it’s brought our country to a standstill, although we love driving in the snow, it’s almost like the unknown.

    Got me thinking that we should take some lessons from our Canadian friends on how to deal with snow, so that here in the UK it’s business as usual, regardless of the weather conditions….

    Good Article 🙂

  74. I live in Idaho, the winters are cruel here, very dry climate all the time. Dry+cold is extra harsh… believe me.

  75. I like snow. Here, in Poland, is winter with snow and is soo cold. I like when is cold, so I can live anywhere, even on a land when snow is whole year. 🙂

  76. Pingback: Why does winter have to be so cold? « Behind the Red Lipstick

  77. A lovely article about snow. I too appreciate the magical aspect of snowfall, but I also hate it when it disrupts traffic and means I can’t see people because of it, even where I live in the UK.

  78. Pingback: Interesting Blog Demographics | Colleen Anderson

  79. queristal

    I live in Calgary where the winters are relatively mild compared to what some other parts of Canada have to face. The local weather office says there is no record of the temperature ever dipping to -40° in Calgary. Mercifully, most winter days the temperature hovers above or below 0°, with some colder days now and then. However, where I’m from — Saskatchewan — the winters are indeed more severe.
    Southern Alberta does get to enjoy the Chinooks — which can get quite balmy and melt the snow away, leaving bare dry ground. Then people will be out in their yards barbecuing, children will be out rollerskating and even the mailman may be seen wearing shorts! Then it seems odd to see American news stories of freak snowstorms causing havoc in southern states.
    Some winters here have been so dry there was no need of shovels when just a broom could handle the snow on the steps. And most of the time, no need of winter boots as shoes will do — at least in the city. The snow can be beautiful but when it results in icy, treacherous streets I hate it. Yes, we would prefer it to stay in the mountains! Well at least, it means no mosquitoes, and a reprieve from mowing the lawn! Cheers all!

    • colleenanderson

      You forget the windchill factor. We had enough days, when I was a child in Calgary, where -20 plus the windchill could equal worse. I hated those days because we still had to go to school, usually. In Vancouver, an inch of snow will bring on a school closure and Calgary winters are much milder on average than they used to be. 🙂

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