snow diary
snow diary

The view from our backyard.

Having told friends, family and colleagues that I dislike winter, I’ve received endless advice on how to turn my chilly frown upside down. My dear friend Myriam provided a list of reasons to like winter and the comments on Twitter have ranged from friendly to downright maniacal. So I’m going to try again to change my attitude, and to chart my progress I’m keeping a snow diary. All I need is some snow.

Read Part 1 of Snow Diary here. Read Part 2 of Snow Diary here.

Snow Day 20: “I’m (Not) Dreaming of a White Christmas”

Today is going to be a good day. The best day of the winter so far. Today I am going to put up my Christmas tree. I am crazy for Christmas! I have a ritual for decorating the tree—I bring everything up from the basement, make a mug of hot chocolate and play White Christmas, my favourite Christmas movie. As I decorate, I sing along with Bing, Danny, Rosemary and Vera-Ellen. Yes, I see the irony! If it counts for anything, my least favourite song in the movie is Snow. My Christmas tree is dazzling, standing in front of the window, with picturesque snow-covered trees as a background.

Snow Day 22: Rosie Snow Memories

It’s great to work from home! No icy commute, no all-day hat hair, no slippery sidewalks. Sitting at my computer, I look out at the neighbours’ kids waiting for their school buses, bundled up against the cold. I remember as a child gathering around the radio in the morning darkness waiting for school closure announcements. As soon as we heard our schools announced, we’d cheer and race around the house in our pajamas.

Usually blizzards ended about the same time mom had had enough of us. She sent us outside where we dug snow forts in the giant drift against the back wall of our house in Saskatchewan. Most years the snow covered the kitchen and dining room windows, creating a semi-gloom in those rooms for the entire winter.

I treasured snow days when my children were little. We’d toboggan or build snow people in the yard, then come in to have hot chocolate and popcorn and snuggle under blanket forts to watch their favourite movies. One year we snowshoed out into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. I guess I haven’t always disliked winter.

Snow Day 24: No Business Like Snow Business

It’s minus 25. And snowing. Again. The snowplough came by and pushed a big windrow of snow into the end of the driveway. This is the third time this week and I’m not digging that out. If I get my hands on the so-and-so who drives that thing, I’m going to shove him under his plough. I yank down the blinds, put on another sweater, and cruise through my favourite vacation websites looking for a deal on a tropical getaway.

Snow Day 27: The West Wind

Typical of Alberta, the weather can change suddenly. Whether it’s El Niño, a chinook or climate change, it brings welcome relief from the cold. The temperature rises to above freezing and the snow melts. And then it gets very windy—there is nothing like a strong wind to suck the moisture out of the air and the ground. (Wind was the big enemy during the drought of the 1930s. Prairie farmers could only watch helplessly as the wind blew away their topsoil and their livelihood.) The same wind dries up the winter snow. SO WHERE IS IT??!! I’m freezing to death, my little white dogs are getting lost in the yard and I’m sick of this!

Snow Day 30: Let It Snow…but just a little

Some guy in Edmonton has launched a campaign to get people to embrace winter. Hmph. That’ll be the day. He describes sleigh rides and hot chocolate next to a bonfire, enjoying the company of good neighbours. I think of the song about warm woollen mittens and snow on hair and eyelashes. La-la-la. But those things go with snot-sicles, frostbitten toes and fogged up glasses. What would be so wrong with temperatures no lower than a nice brisk minus 5 and no more than 5 centimeters of snow?

Snow Day 35: S’no man like a snowman

In today’s paper there is an article by David Staples about Canadians needing new words for snow and ice, like the Inuit’s fabled 100 names for snow. That’s not exactly true, but I like words so let’s have a look. These look good:

Snudge: snow mixed with dirty brown sludge from city streets
Snudgills: massive piles of snudge scraped off icy streets into huge hills
Hypno snow: the mesmerizing pattern of driving snow lit up by your headlights
Jackpot snow: snow left on your sidewalks for days that get packed down hard but come off easily when you ram it with an ice chopper

These are just wrong:

Paradise snow: if there were a paradise, the snow would be large, heavy flakes, wafting from a dark sky. (David, if there were a paradise, it would not include snow!)
Postcard snowfall: after enough paradise snow, the city is transformed into a winter wonderland by postcard snowfall
Trick snow: a thin film over ice that makes you fall on your butt
Snurine: yellow snow

Snow Day 40: I surrender!

Okay, that’s enough! The metre-high markers along our driveway have disappeared, the dogs won’t get off the deck to do their business and even the neighbour’s dog is staying home to do her thing (at last—a promising glimmer of something good!) I have booked a three-week stay in Maui and all this white crap better be gone when I get back!

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About Laura Bonikowsky

Laura Neilson Bonikowsky has lived in and travelled across Canada, the United States and Europe. Her interests lie in a variety of topics, including history, science, technology and medicine.

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Culture, Inside TCE

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