Dashing through the snow

Growing up in India, I had never seen snow, except on television. Snowstorms were something I only read about in books. I would imagine fierce blizzards, the snow falling fast and furious, sounding like a tropical thunderstorm, only slightly louder. Snow looked so much bigger than rain drops, surely snow fall had to be louder than rain. In my mind, snowstorms only happened in Siberia or Greenland. I pictured eskimos braving the snow and going around in their sledges.

My imagination was so much better than the reality. Now, when I hear “snowstorm”, I no longer think of exotic places. My imagination has unfortunately been overtaken by memory. Now, I only remember the ghosts of snowstorms past. Here are some of my memories, that pass through my mind like a slideshow.

Sitting in my apartment, drinking hot tea and watching the snow pile up on my window sill. Reading about record snowfall in Central Park and turning up the heat.

Visiting Kings Canyon National Park in April and getting caught in a snowstorm. Driving through thick snowfall on curving mountain roads, without snow tires or chains.

Taking four hours instead of the usual thirty minutes to drive to the airport. Consoling myself that the flight must have been delayed too, in this weather. Reaching the airport and finding that the flight had left just a few minutes back.

Missing the connection in that storm magnet, O’Hare. Watching shorts-clad Japanese tourists camp overnight in the airport without even a blanket for warmth. The poor sods had assumed Chicago would be just a blip on their travel from Tokyo to sunny Los Angeles. Finding a hotel in Chicago in the middle of the night. Getting on the first flight out of Chicago. Finding out later that it was the only flight that made it out of O’Hare that day.

Going out after a storm to walk on the huge piles of freshly fallen snow, while the snow was still soft and white. Enjoying the feel of the soft snow before it turned into ice, or slush, and changed from pristine white to brown and black.

Walking quickly, head bowed to prevent the fast-falling snowflakes from falling into my eyes. Wondering how Maria von Trapp thought “snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes” was one of her favorite things. Rubbing my numb, frozen nose and walking faster. 

Listening to my colleague’s accounts of snowstorms during her childhood in northern Minnesota. Stories of six-foot high walls of snow piled outside the front door. Stories about building igloos in their front yard, and about how winters are just not the same anymore.

I read about snowstorms in the Midwest and Northeast, and these are the things I remember.

What do you think about, when you hear about snowstorms? What do you remember? How do you feel about snow and snowstorms? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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10 thoughts on “Dashing through the snow

  1. My first tryst with snow was in Germany. I had taken my brother’s SLR (non digital) camera to capture the beauty on that trip. But me not being a pro, but thinking I was one took a full reel of falling snow shots in the night from my hotel room window. Only when I came back to Bangalore and got it developed did I see that all the photos were black with a blotch of white in the middle. God knows what I did :)
    I also like walking on freshly fallen snow which is like 2 feet deep. Love it.
    Having a snowball fight in the middle of the market street in Heidelberg with my friends as the onlookers gave us weird looks.
    Wearing bad shoes to Montreal in March this year and walking like one would wearing skates! Having my hubby to hold on to and preventing any falls.

    Your memories are fun…..

  2. as a grad student i once braved a snowstorm that deposited 10 inches on my fair city to go take a photograph from the statue of the alma mater at the center of the university. that picture turned out cool bec you could see a bunch of people walking one way and a bunch walking the other way, but only one of those bunches was bent over in half. however, my fave snowstorm story centers around a time i was returning from a conference in new orleans. the flight connected in detroit, and, of course, there was a snow storm there. i waited a few hours for my delayed connection and finally, late at night, they started boarding. i was one of the first on the plane by virtue of having a seat in the bargain basement last row. as i entered, and walked down the aisle, i had this weird sensation of white spots floating in front of my eyes. i wondered — was i unwell? was it due to the pressures of the conference (you know, new orleans, february). the further i walked, the more the spots grew, in size as well as frequency. i started shivering. it was really cold.

    i reached my seat. it was covered in snow. someone had left the back door of the plane open.

    i used the emergency procedures manual to scrape two inches off the seat, and spent the flight sitting on two blankets and an inflight magazine.

  3. Early childhood. The winter of 1962 in England- such heavy snowfall that our school was closed for a few days. Loving the snowfall, falling so softly and gently, and turning the whole world white.
    Making snowmen on our street with my sister, and being thoroughly disgusted and upset when dog turds emerged from the whiteness.

  4. I’ve still not seen snow..but now after living in the US, I’ve come to regard it for what it is…for most people, an inconvevnience and even a danger in its extreme form. Earlier, thanks to exposure to snow only in Hindi movies, I’d always considered it very romantic and desirable…But then, I’d never seen/heard about people having to shovel snow out of driveways, power-outages due to snowstorms, multi-car pile-ups due to icy roads…..

  5. Cycling through what can only be described as a blizzard in the southern Netherlands. The bicycle was a rickety affair, only barely held together by a couple of rusty bolts, the best that a poor intern could afford. Snow was everywhere, visibility must have been about ten metres, and the wind was strong enough to drive me+bicycle off the cycle track more than once!

    But in hindsight, it was fun :)

  6. I remember the excitement of my first snowfall in Ithaca, NY, where my husband and I were graduate students years ago. And how quickly we wearied of it, after that endless upstate winter! But then the excitement was rekindled in the blizzard of 1996 in New York. New York was a ghost city, and Central Park was a true winter wonderland. It was surreal and beautiful. I still think that freshly fallen snow is one of the loveliest sights in the world.
    Kamini.

  7. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I loved all your accounts!

    Siri: The SLR photo incident had me in splits! I once took similar pictures of the Niagara falls at night – black with a ghostly white something :)

    tabula rasa: That must have been Northwest! I have never heard that one before, though, and here I thought I was a veteran air travel sufferer. Btw, do you by any chance have that alma mater photo on Flickr? I’d love to see it!

    dipali: Dog turds? You mean the snowmen turned out to have…? That’s awful..

    rajk: Well, I agree snow is an inconvenience. But it’s great to have 4 seasons, you know. I wouldn’t give up fall and spring for anything! Plus, there is something about a winter landscape, a world stripped down to its bare essentials..

    the One: That sounds like a lot of fun! I guess it was dangerous too..I am amazed at your ability to cycle in all that snow (against the wind too)!

    Kamini: Yes, the only good snow in NYC is in Central Park. It turns black too quickly on the sidewalks. It does make freshly fallen snow all the more precious.

    parmanu
    : Beautiful account. Leaves are “outstretched palms offering a scoop of vanilla” indeed!

    As to what you are missing – well, watching the landscape change overnight into fairyland. And spending a couple of hours shoveling snow from your driveway.

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