A sense of snow
I LOVE SNOWLIGHT, THAT SPECIAL SORT OF BRIGHTNESS that emanates from fallen snow. I remember the thrill as a kid of being able to tell without getting out of bed that it had snowed, because of the way the light looked through the curtains. My excitement was definitely heightened by the chance that snow might mean the day off school. This being England, any more than a couple of centimetres in a night was frontpage news, with ‘chaos’ on the roads – a reason to keep children at home. It only ever happened a couple of times, but there’s no better result for a snow-loving kid than revelling in the very stuff that led to the grown-ups calling the day off. Happily, snow is still exciting to me today. That’s partly down to a love of snowboarding, but on a recent trip to Hokkaido, I spent a week first in Shiretoko in the far northeast. There I went snowshoeing into the forest to hunt for fox and deer tracks, and rode a fat-tyre bike out to a headland above the mouth of the Iwaobetsu River to look at the chain of peaks I hiked in the summer. I also watched the Sea of Okhotsk break slushily over a beach knee-deep in snow, the season’s first hint of the drift ice that appears here every winter. The phrase ‘white noise’ never seemed so apt. All this is to say how revelatory a simple aspect of weather can be. It must snow somewhere in the world every day, yet it still somehow retains a capacity to transform our world, and us. It does us good to sometimes stay still enough, long enough to let these everyday, natural effects remind us of their wonder. It’s part of why the outdoors moves us. May it always remain so, no matter our age. Even if we don’t always get the day off to enjoy it.