A beginner’s guide to snow appreciation

Do not belittle this carefully crafted guide. Yes, there is a vast number of people out there that take snow for granted. It barely warrants a mention that everybody experiences it. Duh.

I was one of those people.

Then I moved to Australia and had myself three Australian children who seemed to be growing rather normally for having never seen snow. We managed to rectify this situation in Istanbul when my eldest was 12 years old, who made it that far along in life without ever knowing the bliss of soggy feet in gray slush or falling on her butt by doing all the right things, like walking while not drunk.

In honor of all of those people, who like my children, will remember what it is like to see the snow for the very first time, I have made this guide of the 8 steps to snow appreciation.

Step 1 – Stare

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Most likely your first experience of snow will be in the morning, as you walk by the window the view will stop you in your tracks. Stare! You have never seen your street/backyard/bush/forest so clean. This is indeed one of the most endearing qualities of snow – it covers up all the familiar wrinkles and dents of that which is outside. If there is half a life in you left, you will be checking the view from every which window of your abode, if you are lucky enough to have more than one. Do it.

Step 2 – Stare closer

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After step 1, if you are between the ages of 3 and 13, you will be jumping around the house like a maniac in an attempt to control the excitement of the view you have been seeing through the window. Then you will be squealing and calling on those older than you to help you find the warm clothes that are probably staring you in the face, but which you are unable to see in your state. Do not be scared – this is absolutely normal. If you have completely lost ability to think straight, it is also normal to attempt to go outside in your undies – be warned, adults will try to stop you.

If you are older, but not a teen (they are known to be immune to a lot of normal human emotions), you will be getting giddy yourself. You may be unsure if it is because of the squealing children,  but don’t think too much. Just feel. Go grab some warm clothes and go outside to stare some more. Trust me when I tell you, everything looks amazing when it is covered in snow. Explore and breathe in the cold air. Smell it. Snow smells unlike anything else.

Oh, if you have kids, one of them might have gone out in their undies. Keep an eye out.

Step 3 – Stomp around

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Hhhshrunch…hhhhshrunch…ssshuunch..forget it! I could never prepare you for the fun of stepping in on a patch of freshly fallen snow. Just do it. Walk around, listen, laugh. Go up and down the street. Run. Stomp your way through the white around you. The permanent smile stuck on your face is part of the process. Don’t try, you wont be able to fight it.

Step 4 – Eat

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I have never met a person in my life that has experienced snow and never eaten it. Don’t be that one weirdo.  Reach down grab a handful in your rapidly cooling hands and taste.

Then taste again.

Step 5 – Stare more

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By now you have started to lose feeling in your hands. Your nose is glowing red in the middle of your frozen cheeks. Your hair is sparkling with the specks of white that are covering it and keep on melting on your skin. You feel invigorated from all of that blood that is trying to pump warmth around your body. Time to stare around you some more. Now the awe is complete, you have stomped it, felt it and eaten it. By this stage most of the inhibitions have frozen shut and everyone behaves and feels like a 5 year old. Again, completely normal.

Step 6 – Make balls

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The urge is irresistible. You will have to make balls. Big, small, tiny turd ones or big fluffy ones that barely stay together; perfect smooth ones that you throw at those around you, which alternatively could be barely balls at all, because you were so quick to make them with your frozen hands. Go with it. The only balls you should be mindful of are the ones that end up sneaking in through the back of your coat and sliding down your neck to the only warm skin left on your body. Not fun! Avoid!

Step 7 – Feel the pain

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After a’while the energy will run out. Reality will set in. All the happy chemicals running through your body will calm down (or freeze). You will be reminded of the complete inadequacy of your attire – the soggy gloves, if you wore any, will not fool you anymore and the pain shooting through your fingers will be hard to ignore. Your toes will scream for your attention from the horrible prison of the  crappy boots you thought were a great idea.  You have lost feeling in your ears and nose, and your eyes feel all the cold around you. The moisture is quickly sucking the last fun out of you and now is the time to go inside.

But don’t be too happy. The process of bringing blood back into those frozen extremities is no less painful than the one of watching them die. Be patient, it is all normal.

Step 8 – Smile

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It always happens. Always. There will be a smile on your face due to any/all of the following:

– having blood flow back to most of your body parts;

– you had a look in the mirror and you saw this energized person with rosy cheeks staring at you;

– the sheer happiness of surviving the horror outside;

– you can’t resist the excitement of the children, who are buzzing around like drugged up ravers;

– the sheer pleasure of being a kid again and enjoying frozen water is not wasted on you;

– your face froze that way before you managed to come back inside;

Just let it flow. Smile. Snow does that to you ;)

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If you cannot go to a place with snow, you can invite us over for a visit instead. In the last year we have brought all the extreme, unusual weather with us wherever we go. Like sunny days in Ireland, very long autumn in Alaska, a week-long rainy storm in Vancouver (probably normal actually), almost unheard of sunny and summery weather in Seattle in October,  and the, quite helpful for the visualization of this post, cold snowy spell in Oregon.