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.
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.