Snow has arrived in Minnesota already this year. My friends on Facebook are talking about it and two of my favourite Minnesotan bloggers are writing about it.
Crooked Tracks has wonderful winter photos.
littlelaosonthe prairie has advice on how to cope with snow for those from the tropics, especially Laos. Although their handy tips are particular to Lao immigrants there’s a lot that others can learn. Especially the advice to wrap up warm! Yep, winter has arrived early over there.
The very first time I touched snow was near the top of Mount Ruapehu, in New Zealand.
It was my sixteenth birthday and the middle of summer. I had yet to conjure up the idea of applying for an exchange year.
The snow was slushy, dirty-white, and gritty. Nothing like the soft-looking candyfloss of my imagination.
Six months later I came up with my grand plan to apply for a student exchange. I never dreamed I’d end up living for a year in one of the snowiest, coldest states in America.
In the Minnesota winter of 75-76 the snow didn’t come early. It came late. For weeks the sky seemed grey enough, the temperatures more than cold enough. But the days ticked by. The locals knew to enjoy the respite. Not me. I began to think this would be the first snowless winter in Minnesotan history.
When the very first snowfall happened I was at school. In calculus actually – never a subject that grabbed my attention for long. The sight of large, soft flakes falling from the sky made the equations I was working on instantly unsolvable. Our teacher, who was more than used to snow, knew he was defeated and allowed us outside to enjoy the novelty of it all.
The flakes floated gently through the air. And it was like cotton candy. Cold cotton candy and it tasted of ice water, not sugar.
After school there was only one thing to do. Build a snow man. My first. No matter that there was hardly any snow on the ground. I’d been waiting a long time, or so it seemed, and I wasn’t going to wait any longer.
Those used to snow will realise, no doubt, that building a snowman when there’s not much snow is hard work. We had to roll that ball around and around the yard before it finally collected enough to make a reasonable sized tummy! I was exhausted! And proud of my efforts.
The snow didn’t always float down from the sky. Sometimes it arrived with winds that roared across the prairie as noisily as the Pacific pounding on the foreshore in an easterly storm. Those blizzards brought snow that piled up to the eaves of the house. There were nights when I went to bed to the wind shaking and battering the house and woke in the morning to a hush, and a soft, white light.
Sometimes snowstorms meant snow days – no school. They were spent watching TV or reading a book, safe from the storm.
The snow brought with it a new way of life. Thick winter coats, boots and hats and gloves were required whenever we stepped outside. Inside, the houses were much warmer than I was used to. (Even now the average New Zealand home doesn’t have central heating.) All those hand knitted woollen jumpers Mum sent me off with weren’t actually necessary. They were, believe it or not, much too warm.
Lawn mowing was replaced with snow blowing.
I learned to ski. I tried ice-fishing and ice-skating and what better to do on all those vast fields covered in snow than zoom over them on a snowmobile.
The wind chill created by zipping across the fields meant you had to dress like an astronaut if you didn’t want hypothermia. Those suits kept you warm but they were difficult to get in and out of. And walking in them wasn’t very easy either. But, oh, the fun made it all worthwhile.
When did you first encounter snowfall?
What’s your favourite winter activity?
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