When I was a kid, there was no better feeling than waking up, and seeing a blanket of snow on the ground. I’d jump out of bed and run downstairs to the tv room. There would be a bubble of giddy excitement and the kind of hope only a child can muster. It’s that pure, innocent, untainted or jaded belief that anything, no matter how fanciful, could happen at any moment.
After all, if Santa can shimmy down a chimney and travel the world, delivering presents to everyone in a single night? Surely a dusting of snow could cancel a day of school. Please, please, pretty please, say it’s can happen.
My brother and I would sit, noses practically glued to the screen, watching the stream of school closures run across the bottom of the television. Please, please, please…YES! Snow day.
There were high fives all around. We danced it out or performed a cheap impersonation of it. Call it: Interpretive dancing? Yeah, that sounds polite. Either way, no school today. Oh, what a glorious feeling.
The journey was too perilous. We simply couldn’t risk it. There was nothing else that could’ve been done. Children are our future, don’t you know. Sure, we lived right across the street from our school, but that was immaterial. There was slippy white stuff on the ground and therefore, hence with, precautionary measures had to be taken. It was the responsible thing to do after all.
Yippee, snow day!
Here’s the thing you should know about snow on the West Coast of Canada. It barely exists. Those of us located along the coastline rarely see more than a foot of the white stuff at any one time. Once in a while, Mother Nature likes to screw with us, and we get dumped on. It causes chaos, wreaks havoc on our snow preparedness systems (such as it is), and everything grinds to a halt.
Despite being Canadians, we are not snow people, and therefore, we’re woefully ill-prepared to handle it. I know that will shock a lot of my international pals. As a country, our winter weather has earned a reputation. For the most part, it’s well deserved, but there’s always that one exception.
It’s like a highly crafted family Christmas photograph. Everyone’s dressed up in their slightly wacky, but not too wacky ugly Christmas sweaters. Hair and make-up styled to look minimalistic, but it probably took three hours to get, “Just right.” The smiles are bright, the teeth are white, and it’s the picture of perfection.
Until your eye drifts over to the right-hand corner. Tucked in the back, barely in the frame, is that one relative who didn’t get the email. They look like they just rolled out of bed, licked their fingers and ran it through their hair to tame the frizz.
Their ugly sweater has Santa in a compromising position with an elf. Their smile is a smirk, and they’re giving the double gun salute. Or, they’re asking the cameraman to pull their finger. It’s hard to tell, but you wouldn’t put anything past them. Their idea of quirky is uniquely their own. That’s why we love them so much. How could you not?
That’s Vancouver on a snow day. We lose our collective minds.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my city, and I’m lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Sure, my bias is showing, but I’ve travelled quite a bit, and nothing makes me smile more than this place. All of it. The mountain range and its many surprises. Skiing, hiking, bear watching.
The trees are so tall, they kiss the sky. They’re so wide that it takes ten people to give it a hug. The harbour’s full of activity and life. The laid-back, no worries, vibe that feels like a happy hippie stoner friend that’s jack-up on coffee. Sure, it’s a quirky energy if you’re not used to it, but it’s delightful once you give it a chance.
We have a lot of brilliant qualities, and we have so much to offer. Our snow handling abilities aren’t one of them. No one’s perfect. We all have our gifts and shortcomings. It’s perfectly natural. If we didn’t? Well, we’d get bored of each other pretty quickly. I love vanilla, but sometimes you need to spice it up, you know?
I’m not sure if schools have tightened up their snow day calls since I was a wee one, but they used to call it if a couple of inches fell. That’s not an exaggeration. I put a ruler in a “snowbank,” and I could’ve just used my finger. The tips of the grass were still poking through. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but they called it. Who would argue with that?
No rational person, that’s who.
Then again, we moved to Vancouver from Winnipeg, Manitoba so, our snow tolerance was markedly different. Now that’s a place that knows snow and rarely calls an audible. The one time we got a snow day? The entire city was literally buried by a blizzard. If we wanted to go outside, we had to walk out our bedroom windows on the second floor. We tobogganed (aka= sledding) off the roof of a local grocery store.
That will forever be a highlight of my entire life.
That’s the part of the country that lives up to the Canadian winter hype. Twenty below zero Celsius on a warm day. A gentle dusting of snow will bury your car under three feet of powder and ice. Ice skating on the lake. Playing hockey in a frozen parking lot during the lunch break. Icicles hanging from your nose.
Snow days? Ha! What kind of weak ass…Oh, sorry, Vancouver. Didn’t see you over there.
Having school cancelled because of a foot of snow? It was a wondrous new world. Why didn’t we move here sooner? I was deprived of this glorious feeling for too long. Calling it the promised land would be a step too far, eh. Yeah, better not do that. Suffice it to say, snow days are the best!
Van-City, I love ya!
We just had our first snowfall of the season, and do you know what the media dubbed it? Snowmageddon. Guess how much snow fell? Between two to five centimetres, give or take. It took less than twenty-four hours for it to melt. It took about five hours to turn into slush.
Snowmageddon. Roll the eyes, shake the head and huff once, but only once.
I woke up that morning and went through my routine. I said hi to the animals, started the fire, and made a cup of tea. As the sun rose, I sipped my cuppa and looked out at the winter wonderland. There’s something so special about a fresh layer of snow at first light. It’s pristine, clean, sparkly, and, my goodness, it’s stunning.
I felt that bubble of excitement and innocent hope gurgling in my chest. As I rocked back on my heels, I had to suppress the urge to look at the news to see if it was officially a snow day. I’m not in school. I haven’t been in a very long time. My adult responsibilities don’t care how much I pout, stamp my feet, and point out the window.
But it’s snowing! I can’t possibly be expected to function under these conditions. It’s slippy and dangerous. I simply can’t do a damn thing today, of all days. Where’s your compassion, your decency? Where’s your snowsuit? Where did we put the toboggan? We have to go sledding at least once. Damn you, adult responsibilities! You’re such a buzzkill.
A bird landed on a snow-heavy branch and triggered a small avalanche. A brave soul crunched through the snow with their dog on a leash. The poor creature looked like it was silently blaming its owner for its current predicament. If you’d taught me how to pee like a human, neither one of us would be outside right now.
I sipped my tea and leant on the fireplace mantel. The heat from the flames tickled my legs, and I sighed. This might be a controversial statement, but I love the first snowfall. I haven’t had to shovel, scrape, and dig my way out. Ice water hasn’t soaked through every layer of clothing and frozen my bones. I haven’t slipped and slid across a parking lots or fallen in a mound of slush.
It’s a brief moment where I forget all the pitfalls of snowy days and just enjoy the beauty. The puffy flakes falling from the sky. The ground shimmering like diamonds. The feeling of magical wonder that reminds me of my childhood. And, for a minute, I devolve into that child and got lost in a silly memory.
I’m old enough now to appreciate the beauty of the stillness but not cynical enough to look at it with tired eyes. It’s the perfect moment that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme. But without it? Life wouldn’t be as good.
Do you know what I mean? I often dismiss these times as silly and insignificant because they carry no meaning. They don’t move my life forward. They aren’t about the hustle, and if they aren’t about that? What’s the point?
What’s the quote? Time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time.
Yeah, screw the hustle! I raise my hot cup of tea to a snow day that lasted ten minutes. I enjoyed you to the fullest, and I can’t wait to see you again. Now, back to your regular scheduled adulting.