How does the old adage go? The one about how many words for snow exist in the Inuit language – what was it? 50? 60? I’m pretty sure that phrase is a load of ignorant, false knowledge but the fact remains, snow was incredibly important to certain Arctic cultures for a very long time. Those convex crystal castles called igloos ensured that folks could stay warm in historic winter climes. Snow enabled the survival of entire cultures – how can you possibly dislike it?
Beautifies a landscape
First of all, a fresh blanket of snow can beautify a landscape, especially our dirty Edmontonian vistas. I was driving the Henday on the way to school this week and the way the solstice-seeking sunshine radiated throughout the crispy morning atmosphere nearly brought a tear to my eye. A golden-orange glow glanced off the ground to illuminate every square metre of dawn. I’m pretty sure that’s what heaven looks like. Seriously, sometimes when I’m driving through certain parts of Edmonton I think I’ve gotten lost and taken a detour through a landfill. A foot of the fresh can transform a boulevard full of unsightly garbage into a frosty strip of postcard-perfection. Throw some energy efficient LED twinklers on the trees and you’ve pretty much personified the word pretty.
And while you’re at it, you might as well redefine the word fun, too, and slap a picture of some kind of snow sport beside it. Have you ever had the sweet, divine privilege of skiing or boarding on a powder day? If not, allow me to paint you a verbal picture. Imagine being perched atop some magnificent mountain plateau, with big, fat snowflakes drifting lazily through your field of view. Below you, immense stretches of untouched snow dust, broken up by rocky ridges and sugar-coated evergreens into wonderfully intricate mountain mazes. With headphones pumping your favourite songs into your beanie-wrapped skull, you take a deep breath and drop nose first into the alpine abyss, picking your lines spontaneously as you go. When you really get into the deep stuff, it’s about as close to flying as you’ll get without a wingsuit or a machine.
Skiing is expensive, though, that’s its most fatal flaw. It’s been a long two seasons since I’ve been out for proper mountain skiing. Luckily there’s a free way to take advantage of the snow and Newton’s favourite fundamental force – sledding. If you’re really thrifty, all you need is a piece of cardboard to have a blast of a night sliding uncontrollably down some suburban slope. Sledding is fantastic fun anytime, night or day, midweek or weekend and, as an added bonus, you get a workout hiking back up the hill.
OK, I’ll admit, snow does have some negative traits. For one, it can’t exist above freezing temperatures, so yeah, it’s cold. And if you get covered in it and you move to an area of warmth, things get a little wet. And yes, it does wreak traffic havoc on our roadways at least once a winter. There are just too many awesome possibilities that come with snow to focus on the negatives – snow angels, snowmobiles, snowball fights, snow forts, snow shoes, sleigh rides, sled dogs. The ultimate reason that snow is great: did you ever get to stay home from school on account of a “sun-day?”
Danielle S. fuechtmann
Every year I get a bit nostalgic about snow – the glittering snowflakes, pretty coats and mittens and the crisp winter air. But then winter arrives and I start to remember why snow isn’t as magical as I sometimes think it is.
Edmonton is a winter city and yet, every year, without fail, the first snowfall brings traffic (and transit) to a grinding halt. As someone who got their driver’s licence after an embarrassingly long period of procrastination (I had to renew my learner’s because I was so apathetic), I understand very well that winter driving sucks. However, the fact that travel time more than doubles for the first week of snow is a bit ridiculous! It takes time to get snow ploughs out to clear snow after a big snowfall and every system needs a little bit of time to adjust to new weather but a large factor in the travel delay is human error. What would make travelling in the winter much more efficient – and less nerve-wracking – is if people would budget extra travel time and give themselves and other drivers a bit more space. Proper winter tires are rad, too!
A fresh layer of snow looks pretty, especially when it’s balanced on the tops of tree branches. It doesn’t look as pretty when I’m looking out my door at the sidewalks I have to shovel! It’s not so bad on a quiet weekend when you can take your time and shovel when it’s convenient but several inches of snow on a weekday can be a logistical nightmare. Do I leave on time for class and let it get crunched down by all of the neighbourhood kids running back and forth from school before I get home? Do I hustle and shovel it away, risking being a little bit late? If you’re like me and take transit to campus, you’ll know there’s always at least one household that never clears their snow and their sidewalks force you to trudge through ridiculous amounts of snow or do a slow and tentative tiptoe over the shining sheets of ice they’ve become thanks to one sunny afternoon.
Fogged up glasses
I wear glasses every day and I always know winter has arrived when my glasses start to fog up when I get on the bus or go inside. Once the cold snap hits and is here to stay, I regularly have to choose between everything being a blur or having to look through the blur that is my glasses. On snowy days, glasses get peppered with spots from all of the watermarks caused by snowflakes landing on your glasses. As inconvenient as those blotches are, I’m grateful that I don’t usually have to squint in order to see where I’m going and not have my eyes attacked by cold snowflakes and icy particles while walking through a storm. Whether it’s making your glasses dirty, snow and ice making your eyes water or just the blinding brightness of the white snow, winter can be a really tough time to see where you’re going!
Snow is easy to romanticize when you’re inside and thinking about hot chocolate or tea, a cosy pair of sweatpants and winter sports but when it comes to day-to-day living and getting around, it’s terribly inconvenient!