Thursday, February 26, 2015

MY VIEW #10 - SNOW

Snow

Winter scene in Whistler, BC, Canada, 2004

As a child I saw some awful snow storms, when nothing was moving outside, but rabbits, who didn't mind the cold. We lived near a Y junction of roads, with one gas lamp burning there. On a cold, clear night, in the circle of light, you could see 2 or 3 rabbits playing under than lamp. Out in the country, at that time, not much traffic, so the rabbits were safe. Sometimes our front or back door was was impossible to open, until shoveled out.

Nearly every farm on the prairies had a toilet outside, about 40 to 50 feet from the house. All of them would have a "safety line" from house to outhouse, as in winter you could get lost between the houses. These lines could be a fence, a rope, or a big wire and saved many a life. Alice Yarnell, a friend of mine, lost her father about 10 feet from the door. He let go the wire and the wind blew him down. Two month later his body was found. That was a bad winter in 1931...

The mail had to get through and my Dad, being a postal employee, had to go to the trains. Often trains were hours late, we children wouldn't see Dad for days. There was accommodation in the "Dunnage" room to spend a night or two, till the roads were cleared. Once a train was stuck in a snow drift for 8 or 9 days, near Swift Current, Saskatchewan. All the food and water was used up by the time of the rescue. That storm left 10 feet of snow.

Sleigh riding and fort building were lots of fun and we had a ball. You had to be careful as you could freeze and not know it, till you got home and in a warm. place. That was very painful.

There are different kinds of snow. Yes, I know it is all white, but there are different textures, soft, hard, wet and dry... Soft snow comes down slowly, slowly, leaving a layer of flakes on everything, from 1/2 inch to 4 feet deep, and the world is beautiful and still, asking for somebody to photograph it, right now. All your world is muffled in white.

Hard snow is like its name, also white. When you walk on it, in winter boots, it squeaks, is uneven, and can trip you up...  It is a good time for kids to cut this hard packed snow into blocks and build forts. As children we loved making forts in our back yard and had snowball battles.

Wet snow was sloppy to walk in. It froze at night and made great lumpy footprints for playing marbles. Every kid had a bag of marbles,, with a "steely" or two.

Dry snow is the killer, that's what blizzards are made of, dry, hard, small, stinging grains of white snow. Many, many people have died in a blizzards. The sound made is shrill, wild and eerie, those little pellets sliding over the frozen ground, screeching like a lost soul in torment. It is best to stay indoors if a blizzard is on the way.

I like the soft snow the best. It is friendly stuff.

Letty Evans
July 19, 2006

Letty's description of snow is far from scientific, but having experienced all the types she describes, there is certainly some validity to her snow categories.  Since it is mid-winter in much of the continent, some readers may enjoy the comparison with their experience of winter today.