Sunday, January 6, 2013

Snow Envy

This is the picture that started it all

All it took was one picture (the one above) popping up on my Facebook wall.  An idyllic snow scene courtesy of Swans Islands Blankets in Northport, Maine.  I took one look at the picture and all of a sudden I craved a cold snowy winter.  Yes, I've said it.  As hard as it is for me, and anyone who knows me, to believe, right now I am envious of my friends and family who are experiencing this very weather I want (to borrow, not keep).

I'm a New England girl at heart. I grew up in Maine back in the day when snow storms were true snow storms.  Days off (or more likely delays) from school because of the weather were the norm during the winter months.  By mid February chances were good that when looking out the first floor windows of our house, the view would be obstructed by mountains of snow.  My brother and I would build snow forts out of the snow banks and in our even younger days, go sledding on the huge hill next to our then house.  Receiving both a red plastic sled (for home) and a roll up sled (for recess) was a give-in each Christmas.  As a child I loved it; as I grew older I didn't give it much thought.  After all, that is what winters in Maine were all about.  You bundled up when you went outside, planned accordingly on winter mornings to allow enough time to dig your car out of the driveway, and anticipated that all events and activities might have snow delays or postponements.  (It was smart to always plan an alternative snow date just in case).  It was just the way things were.

My acceptance of snowy winters continued when I went off to college.  Ensconced on a campus in Western Massachusetts we still got our share of snow but it rarely interfered with daily life.  You walked to class and everything you really needed was provided for you right there.  Winter was winter and with a good pair of boots and snow tires, you dealt with it.  It was during my first post-college winter that my attitude began to change.  I was sharing a house with two other women.  We were in the heart of a city that enforced parking bans like they were going out of style.  We were the only house on the street with any driveway (it only held two cars and there were three of us) so on-street parking was the norm. It also turned out that we received record breaking snowfalls that winter.  By mid December our entire neighborhood was buried in snow and it had gotten to the point where there just wasn't any place to put the new snow as it arrived. Whenever our neighbor cranked up their snow blower the snow ended up in our driveway.  More often than not the police would end up in the neighborhood to mediate a dispute between snow bound neighbors.  Oh, and working for a company that operated 24/7, I had to get up and go to work each and every day.  All of a sudden this fluffy white stuff wasn't so fun any more.  Yes, the snow was pretty and the occasional snow day off from work was nice but the day in and day out of dealing with snow was tiring.  Snow might be nice to play in but when you needed to get from point A to point B on time on a daily basis it just proved to be a hassle.

My love-hate relationship with snowy winters continued until I finally left New England years later.  I spent my first winter in southern Virginia relishing in the fact that it didn't really snow in Norfolk.  Every once in a while a flake or two would fall causing my southern born co-workers to speculate as to whether or not we'd get to go home because of the weather.  It never happened.  Nor should it have.  Shortly before we left Hampton Roads in 2010, a fluke of Mother Nature caused a snow storm to hit that resulted in our receiving almost a foot of snow.  The roads were a mess, no one knew how to drive, and I was housebound for the day since the City didn't own a single plow and we had to wait for the snow to melt off of the road before venturing out.  (Yes, this was the way Norfolk dealt with snow).  It would have been rather humorous had it not been for the fact that Sidney was still in the NICU and a snow day meant I couldn't visit him.  Predictably however, the snow melted the next day, the roads re-opened and life went on.

It does snow in Albania, just not here in Tirana.  The few flakes that have fallen in Tirana over the past two winters have elicited the same level of excitement as they did in Virginia.  We can see snow on the mountains outside of the city (and yes it is pretty).  At the higher elevations heavy snowfalls cause roads to be closed and villages to be cut off from services for weeks on end but this is not something we have to deal with on a regular basis.  Despite the fact I don't really like snow, the New Englander in me still equates Christmas and the entire winter season with snow.  I had been thinking about this for a few months and then the Swans Island picture popped up on my computer.  All of a sudden I wanted to once again experience a good old fashioned snow storm.  (Just one mind you, not week upon week of snow).  I had thought our Christmas in Bavaria would produce the desired effect but alas, snow was scarce and it took going up to the top of the Zugspitze to even experience falling flakes.  Even caught up in a squall, it just wasn't what I had been hoping for.

Call me crazy; as I read comments from my friends in Vermont and Maine I find myself longing for a real snow storm.  I think Sidney would love it; he's only seen snow from afar but never really experienced it.  How does one even explain what snow feels like to someone who has never felt it themselves?  Growing up surrounded by snow I can't even begin to describe it since it feels so natural.  Am I going to get to experience snow this year?  Probably not.  Plans are afoot to allow us to experience a snowy winter next year though:  since Bavaria isn't snowy enough this time we're going to set our sights on Switzerland. After all, surely there will be snow in the Swiss Alps in December. Right?  In the meantime I must apologize again to my snowbound friends.  For the rest of this winter I'm going to live vicariously through all of you as I see your pictures and hear your stories about shoveling, playing, and living with snow.  Enjoy the snow for me; I'm jealous.

Winter at Mount Holyoke College


  1. I am a California girl - snow is that pretty white stuff on christmas cards that you drive for a few hours to the mountains to play in. My 4 1/2 year got to see 'real' snow for the first time last month at Sea World and Legoland. He thought is was wonderful! My husband and I couldn't wait to get off of the ice. :)

  2. Snow - I love real snow, not the Aussie slush we get here, although it's a massive holiday even then for us to actually get to snow. Jelous of any snow as we swelter in our summer heat (which I love within reason - has been outside of reason lately).