Winter Wonderland – The beauty of white
Ever since my childhood years, I have read about winter wonderland in so many books. Enid Blyton, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and so many authors have written about the fantastic feeling of snow and how snow transforms a normal landscape into something heavenly. The thought of sitting in front of a fireplace, sipping coffee or enjoying a delicious meal of steak while a snow blizzard rages on outdoors always used to fascinate me. As I was from Kolkata, India, that is in the tropics it is impossible to get such an experience as the city is located in the tropics. The temperature would vary from about 10 deg Celcius in winter to 40 deg Celcius in summer. The only way to have fun in the snow is to travel somewhere cold, like the hillstations in the Himalayas during winter. Sadly, I thought, I never got the chance. Now I had read a lot in story books about , “Winter wonderland”, “White Christmas”, and so on. I hoped that one day I would get to see a snowy winter. I got my wish while working abroad in Cardiff, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Richmond.
When the first snow appears, it is so joyous. It is so lovely to see flurry snowflakes flowing through the wind. It seems as if cotton balls are being blown all around. For the first time in my life I saw snowfall in Cardiff. I actually could not understand at the beginning what was going on. I just happened to see white cotton balls flying around under the street lights in the evening. I kept staring at it for while trying to understand what was going on. Suddenly, it occurred to me. It was snowing! I was so excited that I pulled my housemates to the window and I kept staring out of the window for about an hour. I felt like a child all over again. The snow fell for about a couple of hours. The outdoors truly turned into a wintry wonderland!
The next day there were patches of snow on the street, the sidewalk, on top of the houses and pretty much on all structures on the street. It looked beautiful for a day but then snow melted the next day and it melted into sleet, which is a mixture of melted cold water and dirt. The same water then freezes partially and becomes ice. This is dangerous on the sidewalks as pedestrians can slip and fall, causing sprains to broken waists or worse. Well, still it was an experience.
My next experience was in Milwaukee, the following year. I reached the city midnight on the 20th of April. When I exited the airport terminal, I found that it was freezing cold and to top it, fiercely snowing. Imagine that, snowing hard at the fag end of April! My stay in Milwaukee was just for 2 months and by the time I left Milwaukee, the weather became hot.
After Milwaukee, my next project abroad was in Pittsburgh. The city is really beautiful with rolling hills everywhere. We were warned about long winters (just like it was in Milwaukee). I was not sure initially and enjoyed the first snowfall but after enduring the cold weather, up to -20 degrees below zero for more than 3 months, I thought I had had enough of it.
Pitfalls of snow
Frankly, it looks great when it snows but the wonderful feeling wears off after a week or two. Beyond that it got to me. I have had accidents thrice in the snow. Once my car was wreaked and another time my friend’s car was completely ruined. It was all because the cars could not stop in time. You see, when cars start to skid on snow then braking makes little or no difference at all. The car just keeps on moving forward when you actually want it to stop. We would love not to venture out on snow but we still have to go to work, school, get groceries. Going to work is another pain. Each morning one would have to spend half an hour to clean the snow off the car and clear the way so that the car can be backed out of the driveway. Then in the car the heater will start to make a difference by the time one would reach office. Heck, at -10 degrees it is very difficult to even hold the steering wheel! When there is snow for months at a row, it is really difficult to go through daily life.
The beauty of snow
Nevertheless, snow is beautiful. Especially the first snow of the season. Here are some photographs. I hope you like those.