A sense of snow

Action Asia - - COMMENT -

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.

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