One of the things I miss most about America is snowy winters. Yes, yes, all you Americans reading this are probably groaning just thinking about all the snow you’ve had so far this winter, but I consider you lucky. While I never thought of winter as my favorite season, I have many a good childhood memory involving snow: constructing a tunnel system under 2 feet of snow in the driveway with my brothers, getting buried under the snow by my brothers, making snow angels, building snowmen, making snow forts for snowball fights, sledding down the hill next to my grandparents house on a garbage bag, watching my dog create yellow snow… Ok, maybe not that last one so much. Bottom line: Snow is magical.
Think about it for a second.
As you’re falling asleep you notice a few flurries falling outside your bedroom window, illuminated by the orange glow of a nearby streetlamp. It makes you think about all the feel-good feelings associated with Christmas (see my first post, Miracle on Hayehudim Street, for further insights into the “Christmas spirit”), and you slowly drift off into a peaceful sleep. You wake up the next morning remembering the flurries you saw the night before, and you look out the window to discover a white wonderland. You run downstairs and immediately find out from your mother than school has been canceled today; you have a snow day. You throw on your boots and your coat over your pajamas and run outside. You think to yourself that there is nothing more beautiful than a thick layer of unadulterated snow coating everything in sight. You quickly run inside, get your 35mm film camera, snap a few over-exposed shots for memory’s sake, throw the camera back into the house, and run out into the front yard making the first visible disruption to the snow on your block. As you glide through the soft flurries you notice some imprints in the snow… from a bird or squirrel? You follow the animal-prints to a pine tree on the edge of your property. Looking up you see the snow balanced perfectly on the tree branches, begging you to flick the branch and make the snow fall off. So you abide. At this point the neighbors have come outside as well and are doing similar things in a more restrained fashion (*sigh* adults). Now that the magic of being alone in a winter wonderland has broken, you go back inside and commence your regular morning routine. When you’re done, you mother hands you and your siblings some shovels and asks you to shovel the walkway and the sidewalk, and then to clean off the cars. So you do. It’s not the most fun, but it sure beats going to school – even when your brother sneaks up on you and puts snow down the inside of your coat. You’ll get him back soon though… While shoveling the sidewalk, you scoop up a bunch of snow on the shovel and toss it at your brother. Snowball fight ensues, at which point you are wet and cold and losing miserably. Your mom comes outside and asks you to stop fooling around and finish shoveling. So you finish, with an occasional snowball thrown, then you lay down the salt and go back inside. Immediately the smell of grilled-cheese sandwiches hits your nose and your senses go wild. You top your wonderful lunch off with a heart-warming cup of hot cocoa topped with whipped cream. Then you go play a board game on the living room floor with your siblings. After losing, you all go back outside for the real creativity. Your brothers decide to have a contest for who can build the biggest snowman. You decide to make one yourself, but after rolling the snow around to make a ball it starts picking up massive chunks of mud and dirt and does not look pretty at all. So, while your brothers go looking for branches to use as arms, you take the family dog out and run around with him in the snow for a while. When your brothers are finished, you decide to tag along with them to a close by hill for some sledding. It’s a popular spot for all the neighborhood youth, but you wait your turn and squeal from delight the whole way down. After many turns each where you go down forwards, backwards, and head-first on your stomach, you notice it slowly getting dark out, so you head home. On your way you notice icicles forming around the bottoms of cars and at the corners of sheds, so you pick off a few. You accidentally drop one in a patch of white snow and for the life of you, you can’t find it again. As you kick the snow off of your boots outside the house’s front door, you look around and compare what you see now with what you saw that morning when you woke up. The roads, sidewalks and walkways are cleared, the setting sun gleams off the tops of the cars that pass by, dirty slush is piling up on the side of the road, the snow in your yard is trodden and bumpy with yellow splotches here and there, and there are two, large, lopsided snowmen standing guard to your house; all the work of a fun-filled, successful snow day. After dinner, your father gets a fire going in the fireplace, and the whole family crowds around it, fighting over who gets the wool blanket that grandma knitted. You read a book while sipping more hot cocoa, glancing up at the crackling fire ever few minutes, trying to figure out what images and shapes you see in the burning logs. As the fire dies down, you find yourself yawning. So you trudge upstairs, brush your teeth, change back into pajamas, and climb into bed under your nice, warm covers, and dream about peaceful things.
This scenario could never happen in Israel. Don’t get me wrong – this country generally has about one snow day every winter, although all it takes is a few flurries to shut this country down. (And most houses in this country don’t have anything resembling a fireplace.) We don’t get feet of snow here. We barely get an inch every four years. My first year in Israel it flurried for about 5 minutes, during which time we all ran out of the classroom to twirl around under the open skies. But in the seven winters I’ve spent in this country, only one winter had enough snow to do anything with. I was in my second year of college when it started snowing one school night, and having been in the country long enough to know that even if the tiniest bit of snow sticks to the ground overnight, everything would be called off the next day so that the country’s five snow plows could get to work clearing the roads. So on my snowday I set my alarm for bright and early, grabbed my fancy camera, and trekked through the inch of snow, uphill, for 45 minutes to get a picture of the Temple Mount covered in snow. It wasn’t as special as I thought. No snow stuck on the golden cap of the Dome of the Rock, so the morning sun glared so much off of it that it was close to impossible to make out that there was even snow around it. Morning wasted, I passed by some Israeli kids having a snowball fight on my 45 minute walk home. I’d have loved to stop and play with them, but they were playing rather violently and I had my fancy camera around my neck, so I decided best not to. Around noon-time I decided that I absolutely had to have some fun in the snow, so I began calling up friends asking if they wanted to meet up in a nearby park. No one was interested. So I did the only thing I could think of… I went to a family in the neighborhood that I had become quite close to and asked their 8 year old daughter (who was almost like a little sister to me) if she wanted to go out and play in the snow. So, my playmate and I went off to the park where some other kids were having a snowball fight, and we found a quiet spot with a patch of unadulterated snow only big enough for my little friend to make a snow angel, and then we built a small snowman using any and all the snow we could find. Not the most fulfilling snow day, but better than nothing.
A year later, my husband (then fiancé) and I flew to America at the end of January for our engagement party. We were there for two whole weeks during which time it snowed a massive amount, and during which I, of course, was sick with fever and unable to leave the house. What a bummer. Finally, on the last day of our trip I decided that I didn’t care if I wasn’t 100% better yet – I was not going to miss the snow! So I got to play in the snow a little bit, but mostly just walked around, shuffling my feet through it.
That was the last time I saw snow… real snow, I mean. This winter I was introduced to a different kind of “snow”. It would seem as though our warm and wonderful down blankets that we registered for as a wedding present are not as wonderful as we thought. There are no holes in the comforter, but the goose feathers that are stuffed inside it are so soft, thin and delicate that they slip right through the cotton knitting of the blanket. Over the past few weeks we’ve had an increasing number of feathers floating around our bedroom. I finally gave up yesterday and exchanged the down comforters for slightly less warm, non feathered blankets. As I stripped the duvet covers off of the blankets though, little, white feathers began flying everywhere. And the worst part is that once they settle, all you have to do is pass by them at a distance of a few feet and they’re up and flying through the air again. It’s like recyclable and annoying snow that isn’t cold and you can’t make snowmen with. By the time my husband got home from work that night I looked like a goose, covered in feathers, and that was nothing compared to how our couch looked (still looks, actually – I haven’t cleaned it off yet).
So here I am, going through massive snow withdrawal, reading via Facebook posts how all my friends in America are complaining about the incessant snow they’ve been having all winter long. Boo hoo, poor you. You have too much snow. Sorry I’m not at all sympathetic. Want to send some my way? I’ll happily take it!