I want to tell you about snow. Specifically, I want to list all of the
neat things that go with snow that make me really enjoy this time of

Full disclosure: It is not snowing here currently. This brings me to
the first reason I like snow: there is no escaping winter here, so it
is going to be cold, but days when it can snow are warm days.
Other times (such as now: overnight forecast of -30°C, windchill
warning of -45°C) it is so cold that it cannot snow. I always enjoy
watching people get their heads around the idea of “too cold to snow”.
(It is also fun to watch people realize that in the winter months,
there is a very good chance that a clear, sunny day will be much colder
than a cloudy day.)

The best kind of snow is big fluffy snow — the sort of snowflakes that
look like you could pick them out of the air one at a time with your
fingers. The things I like about snow tend to be centred around that
sort of snow. Most of the things I like about snow have to do with
being in the city, too, but for all I know you get the same effects
in the countryside. I’m just not there.

So, then:

I love how snow makes everything so quiet. Even on a downtown
street, having a few inches of fluffy damping material turns down the
world a few notches. It’s very much a “something is wrong here — what
is it?” feeling at first, and I think that’s why it’s so neat.

Similarly, snow makes everything look clean. Even a well-travelled road
will just be white to light beige right after a snowfall (and before the
salt and sand trucks come out).

Snow takes away urban boundaries. Areas that were parking areas
become unmarked and then taken over by pedestrians; unplowed sidewalks
and quiet streets make pedestrians take to the roads; the design of
parking lots suddenly becomes up to the people parking in it.

After a fresh snowfall, the world is lit from below. I’ve read that
the unusual lighting circumstances of a snowy winter is one of the
things that triggers seasonal depression, but for me it’s as though
the world has been lit up with fill lighting instead of key lighting.
This combined with the sound change and cloud cover makes the whole
outside feel like a strange, big room.

Lastly, after the snow’s been around a while, it’s plowed into piles and left
for spring. This has always amused me. We like to think that we’ve
pretty much trumped this “nature” thing with our new-fangled
“civilization”. Usually when we get reminders that it’s still a
pretty even balance, they’re destructive — hurricanes, floods,
hailstorms. As much as I love big weather too, the piles of snow are
a more peaceful reminder that there are some things about nature that
we just have to get used to — yes, we’ve built a whole city here, but
five months of the year we’re going to have to take this stuff and put
it in piles and try to pretend it’s not there.

Candice thinks i’m nuts for liking snow, and most people think
of winter sports when it comes to snow fans. Me, I like how it makes you
pay attention to things not being the way you expect anymore.

11 responses to “Snow!”

  1. Really well written, sir. Makes my half-written snow post shrivel from quality deficiency. It snowed here today – 5 inches this morning – and it’s just barely warm enough for it to have done so. It was a biting, stinging morning. Anyway.

    I feel the same way about snow, in general. A month or so ago when it was Big Fluffy Snowing I ran outside with my camera and snapped a bunch of white-speckled photos. Remind me on #perl and I’ll send you a couple.

    30F is the Best Temperature Ever for snow. :)

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
    Nothing says peace on earth like snow seen falling under a streetlamp.
    Montreal in a snowstorm is a beautiful sight.

  3. it seems that winter here in the capital of the retarded world has decided to begin with a little herd culling. the snow we’ve gotten thus far has been brief, cold, and windy. largely, its served to get suv drivers to roll their DETH MOBILES in really spectacular ways. it seems that, as a friend’s ex once said, intelligence is water soluble.

  4. I like snow too. You’ve put it so much more thought provoking than I could without really bringing the brain out for a good jog. You’ve also articulated things that I’ve felt but never quantified.

    I like fresh snow, and mixing it with fresh maple syrup up at the mills. I think everyone should experience that :)

  5. Now you see, I don’t like snow but then I live in England where snow is a very different experience. While it’s falling, it’s *really* unpleasant to travel through, particularly for me as a cyclist. Then it will lay there for maybe a day or so being an impediment on the roads after which it will recede to dirty slush that stays in the gutter and on the edges of the road and in odd piles on the pavement and so on. This stuff is just the right consistancy to splash on you when driven/riden through and then stick to your clothing feeling cold and wet and unpleasent until you get to where you’re going and shake it off.

    Also, of course, days when it snows over here are the coldest ones, which I also don’t like. Give me summer any day! Still, I have to say, you do make it sound appealing over there – a testament to a well crafted post :)

  6. I like snow. Snow is good. But only if it’s on-demand snow.

    I don’t want to come home in the evening and have to shovel large amounts of it. I’d rather just be able to drive … oh, say 20-30 minutes out of town to the mountains, rent a cabin for the weekend, and play in the snow (ski, dogsledding, etc.)

    I wish I lived somewhere that I could do that.

    Oh wait. I do. ;)

    (hello from BC)

  7. I know, but hey, it’s not as much fun (for me, anyhow). ;)

    ‘sides, I refuse to get hooked on LiveJournal again. Being anonymous limits my options, thereby allowing more time for things like studying. ;)

    Wait. I’m posting on LiveJournal again. Damn. Noooooo!

  8. Nice piece of writing. It almost makes me homesick. :-)

    I definitely prefer the memory of walking to the Metcalfe St office in the snow, to that of walking across the Mitel carpark/windtunnel in -40. (Of course, I haven’t used my “kenny” jacket since leaving Ottawa, and it’s +24 as I write this.:-)

    Prior to moving to Ottawa, snow meant something that you drive five hours to, ski for the day (in -4), then drive home (or back to the lodge) from. In the two winters I was in Ottawa, I lost all interest in skiing; there’s something about skiing in -40 (and -50 on the chairlift) that removes the desire for this activity.

    Ho hum. Guess it’s time to slip, slop, slap[1] and sit in the ozone-layer-less sun for a bit.


    [1] Slip on a shirt, slop on sun sunscreen, and slap on a hat — government advertising campaign.