Friday, February 22, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Winter

I thought I had experienced winter before moving to Japan. Turns out my 26 years of life in California did nothing to prepare me for real, honest to goodness winter.

Snow has always been something I loved. Taking trips up to the mountains to play in the powder were the best part of winter. When I was about 8, I even asked Santa to make it snow for Christmas. I always thought living in the snow would be the best thing ever! My childhood self would squeal with delight if she knew I was living in the snowiest city in the world with a million or more people.

I'm prefacing today's post with that because I don't want to give the impression I'm anti-snow. Far from it. It's just, my adult self now has some perspective 8-year-old Kathryn couldn't even begin to imagine. Living in the snow is a pain in the behind!

So, this is for all my California friends complaining about the "cold" winter. I feel like we're only scratching the tip of the ice-berg in our new appreciation for the winter-wonderland. If you have anything to add, leave a comment.

-The love/hate relationship with the snow plow:
       Snow plow: clearer of roads, I do love you. But yesterday, when you dumped your pile of snow in front of my driveway... yeah, that wasn't cool.
See those piles on either side of the plow? Those are driveways. Good luck residents.

       Also, do you have to drive so slow when you're not plowing. You block the whole road. Both lanes. :/ I just want to get home before the baby gets tired of sitting in her carseat, either pull over or go faster!

-Where'd the _____ go:
       The thing with snow is it accumulates. Rain washes away; it absorbs. Snow just keeps on piling higher. For the first full winter in Sapporo, I didn't know there was a park across the street. Then one spring day (mid-May, I think) I spotted the top of a jungle gym.
There's a jungle gym and swing set under that snow pile, but you'd never even suspect it. 
       Landmarks too, are obscured. I have to relearn how to navigate the city in the winter and then again after the thaw. 
       Stephen's had to learn to be careful about where he leaves the snow shovel. We lost one to a snowdrift that piled up over night. Which brings me to my next lesson...

      I am so thankful to have a dear husband who shovels the driveway. Both times I had to do it ( both times because the snowplow buried my exit) I thought I was having a heart attack later in the day because my left arm hurt so bad. Turns out, my shoveling muscles in my left arm are much less toned, if not non-existent.

-Wear the right shoes:
       I have a pair of warm boots. They're cute and fuzzy and I love them. The problem is there have virtually no tread on the bottom. I bought a pair of galoshes with a flip out cleat that I've dubbed my "safety boots." Not as cute nor as warm, but I've stopped falling on my butt when I walk around, which is a plus.

Plan wisely when you leave the house:
       Hat: check. Scarf: check. Coat: check. Gloves: check. Are you socks warm enough, because cold toes get old fast. Did you grab every single thing you might possibly need for yourself (and your baby if you've got one of those), because walking back into the house after managing to get into the snow covered car is NOT  an option.
       Plus, if your primary mode of transport is walking (like mine), you're going to look like a lost sherpa as you run your errands because heaven forbid you forget an essential item when it starts dumping snow on your walk home from the grocery store.

My baby sherpa, modeling proper snow attire. 
And another pic of the bundled up baby for good measure. 

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