Snow Day (except without the time off)

This has been a strange week, weather-wise. On Monday, when I checked the extended forecast, I was somewhat dismayed to discover that there was snow predicted for Wednesday. I have nothing against snow in theory, in fact I quite like it, but I’m trying very had to convince myself that spring is on the way, so the idea of more cold did not thrill me.

On Tuesday night when I went to close the windows before going to bed, I looked out at a world sprinkled with pure white snow. I say close the windows here to mean the same as closing the curtains would at home. Houses in Korea, or at least the ones I have lived in, don’t have curtains. There are no curtain rails and no pretty coloured fabric framing the windows. Instead, there are sort of double-windows, the outside layer being proper windows and the inside layer being opaque panes, providing the privacy normally provided by curtains. Oh, and the outside-outside layer being mosquito netting which somewhat annoyingly obscures the view but is essential when Daegu’s super-sized mozzies descend on the city.

As I looked out at the snowy world, I was excited. I didn’t want the snow to come because of the cold, but a wintery world in the dark of the night is really quite pretty. I assumed the snow would melt fairly quickly, as it has the last few times there have been a few stray flakes floating down, which, each time, melted as they hit the ground. This time, however, it was different. I woke up to a world positively blanketed in white.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been a great excuse to stay in bed and savour the warm but I was feeling adventurous so, after wrapping up in layer upon layer of warm winter clothes, I headed out to see what Daegu snow looked like. I took my camera, of course, and was taking pictures before I even reached the street.

In spite of my aversion to cold, there is something enchanting about a fresh fall of snow. As I turned up my street, towards the main road, I looked up at the wooded area across the main road. Each tree and fence-post had a layer of snow turning it from ordinary into fairy-tale. I walked along the road towards the lake, enjoying the novelty of the unexpected layer of white.

The lake lay grey and cold as it reflected the heavy clouds, but no rain or snow was falling as I walked towards it. All around me, tree trunk stood out black against the fallen snow. I felt like I’d walked into the stories and poems I’ve read for so many years. The day was warming up a little and water was starting to drip from tree branches and flow in tiny rivulets towards the lake. As I stopped to take a closer look, I saw water flowing in twisted paths between layers of ice. I walked on.

At one point, I found myself confronted with a path dotted with pools of melt-water and piles of snow. On the edge of the path, sitting on a bench, was a little 30cm snowman someone had build. I took a quick picture before picking my way between the puddles and moving on. At the edge of the lake are two trees, naked of leaves at this season and always making a dramatic picture against the sky and the water. This time, the drama was enhanced by a layer of white snow against the trunk and the branches and a dark and foreboding sky for a backdrop.

At the duckboat rental places, the cheerful little duckboats bobbed and splashed in the water, looking chilly and abandoned under a layer of fresh snow. My camera batteries died at this point. I kept walking and drinking in the prettiness. As the path wound on to the pavement, around the waterfront restaurant, the snow was yellow-brown with the mud below it.

I popped into the Family Mart next to the amusement park and bought some more batteries for the camera. I stopped to take some pictures of the amusement park, dark and silent under the steel-grey cloud, the rides silent as the melting snow lay in piles and water dripped and ran in rivulets.

As I walked back along the shore of the lake, I got some stunning pictures of the tree-covered mountains covered in snow. It struck me as I was walking along, that these images, so novel, so enchanting for me, must be ordinary for so many people. Growing up amidst the wide-open grasslands and rolling hills of Africa, it’s so easy to take for granted how beautiful it all is, a fact I’m reminded of whenever I watch the reaction of people who are seeing it for first time. I suppose this is the reverse of that. I’m glad I have an opportunity to enjoy it.

After the invigorating walk, I returned home and took full advantage of the joy of underfloor heating. The rest of the day was warmer and by the time I came home from work, most of the snow had started to disappear, trees were once again bare and grey-brown and pavements were wet but no longer white with snow. Sadly, we didn’t get the day off work. I’m fairly sure that this amount of snow in SA would have resulted in a complete shut-down of productive activities but I suppose the novelty wears off when it happens every year.

By the next day, the field of white in the vacant lot next to the bus stop had shrunk to a thin line of snow against a fence, where small boys threw watery snowballs at each other in the sunshine. The wind was still chilly but the weather had warmed up otherwise and the beauty of sunlight on snow was almost overwhelmingly amazing. I do hope that this is the last snowfall of the season, because I’m holding thumbs that winter will end soon, but I’m glad I got the chance to see it in all its winter-wonderland, enchanting beauty.