December 05, 2010

Snow from a distance

Growing up the tropics there are certain earthly processes that have been alien to me. Like have four distinct seasons, as opposed to the rainy hot and the regular hot. Or like living with snow. Everything I knew about snow was thanks to the propensity of Bollywood to choreograph elaborate dance scenes in exotic locales, and have the hero and his romantic interest roll around in the snow. Here are some things I never knew till I came to live in Wisconsin.

Snow can get really dirty. Yes the first snow is indeed pure and white. But once on the roads and the parking lots, it quickly gathers grime. And shows it. What remains a couple of days after the snow showers is a grimy cold mix of mud, ice and grease. Very unlike the postcards of the pure white.

Snow is, uncomfortably, wet. Everyone has seen the image of the girl catching the first snowflake and blowing it free. What happens in reality is that the moment a snow flake hits your skin it melts. Leaving you damp, cold and miserable.

Snow is heavy. It isn't ethereal powdery stuff waiting for the first breeze to float by. Instead scraping a 4-inch deposit off your car makes you wish you had spent more time at the gym.

Snow can get really hard and slippery. As feet pound the powdery stuff and sunlight melts it a little, everything freezes back like an impromptu skating rink. Inviting unsuspecting passers by to make fools of themselves, just like in the regular skating rink.

Snow never really occurs looking like those beautiful hexagonal crystals. Well, it probably does, but the crystals are always too small to see. And if you try to catch one, see above, all you end up with is a little wetter and a little colder.

For me, the first snowfall was definitely a wonderful occasion. So was the second. and maybe the third. But very soon, the slushy roads, the slippery sidewalks and the scraping of the car made me realize the truth. Snow is just like rain, but colder, sticks around for a awful lot longer and makes you wish you had just seen it from a distance.

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