Monday, 29 December 2008

A New Memory of Snow

My apologies for a lack of blog posts - I am so very far behind! Here is the first in a batch of catch up posts!

I feel compelled to start my big blog catch up with the unusual weather that has graced Vancouver since the 14th December:


Approx 7am, 14th December - about to set off for my uni course

When I say 'unusual weather', it is important to note that Vancouver is more famous for its average annual rainfall of 46 inches than it is for any kind of serious snowfall. Just as context, Vancouver's rainfall compares with an average of 22 inches of rain per annum in London.

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Approx 8:30am 17th December - taking the Fella to work...ahhhh, so sweet!

In fact, a local radio station advised that this is the first White Christmas that Vancouver has experienced since 1998. In the run up to Christmas, the temperature averaged between -7 and – 4 degrees Celsius. I did hear some East Coast Canadians quipping to West Coast Canadians, "Welcome to Canada!"


Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when these geese caught up with the bright feathered spark who persuaded them that there was no need to migrate this year as Vancouver never gets any snow?!

Now I did not see the weather channel on Christmas Day so I am not sure whether Mother Nature pulled it off or not. However, as a result of snow here, Canada was set to experience something that has not happened since 1971: a coast to coast White Christmas. I can hardly get my head around that. Canada is a country that is big enough to span a number of different time zones and the idea of it (and a whole nation of people) being completely (or even mostly) under snow is just mind boggling.


It is not just the geese who have been bemused by the snow - many Vancouver residents have been scratching their heads about what this white stuff is and how best to deal with it and get on with their daily lives!

I must confess that it has not all been a big happy Bing Crosby though. As snow is fairly infrequent here, Vancouver is coping just about as well as London would in the same situation - i.e. not especially well. Only essential roads have been ploughed and none of the pavements (sidewalks) have been cleared or gritted, except where individuals have cleared them in front of their homes and shops. We are only in the suburbs and my car has been snowed in since the 20th December.


At one point, I swept the car so it was ready to dig out - I gave up. The snowiest car photo is after I had swept it clear. I finally dug it out today!

So the inclement weather and the city's inability to deal with it over such a prolonged period of time have made things a bit difficult, particularly for the elderly and commuters. The other group of people very badly hit by the weather are the city's homeless, who are a very visible part of the urban landscape here. There has been a push to open more emergency winter shelters that allow people to bring their belongings into safety with them.


Yet, despite all of the problems and misery brought about generally by the snow and cold weather, I have to admit that I love it in just the same way that I did when I was a child - it is just magical.


I love the way that it changes how everything looks and sounds. How familiar objects and landscapes can appear totally alien - even in and around your own garden and street.


I suspect that my enjoyment is helped by the fact we have power and are only a short trek to shops / buses on ploughed streets. I suppose that I might feel differently about the snow if this was not the case? Otherwise, this snowfall has helped me to chalk up another, truly authentic Canadian experience - not only did I rake leaves this autumn, I have now shovelled snow!


I have found that the only problem with shovelling snow is that:


It snows again. So it must be shovelled again:


And again - we paid an enterprising teen $10 to shovel and salt it on Christmas Day! And lo, it was shovelled again today.


Trust me, authentic as the experience is? The novelty wears off after a bit!

So, it is now the 29th December and while we still have snow on the ground, I think that we are headed towards a thaw. The temperature has risen to +4 degrees Celsius and when I was outside this morning (digging my car out of its snow bank) it started to rain.

I appreciate that many people will be relieved to see it vanish but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It has provided me with a new, fresh memory of snow to draw on each and every year until nature gifts me another snowy yet cozy Christmas:


So whatever weather you are having this holiday season, I hope that you are enjoying it thoroughly and that you are having a wonderful time!


Kelli said...

Lovely to hear from you. I'm rather over the snow though.

Anonymous said...

That last photo is especially wonderful :)