There are many millions of people in the world who see nothing unusual in falling snow. It's a regular part of their life experience, something they've always known, and something that is probably often more of a nuisance than anything else.
I am not one of those people.
I can detail many of my snow "firsts", starting back with my first experience with just a tiny bit of snow in the mountains in Greece, snow that was months old when we found it. I was nine years old and it would be many years before I'd actually see snow fall.
In fact, I was 25 years old and living in Japan when I first experienced the wonder of snow actually falling from the sky. I remember those first flakes very clearly, in fact: I was on a lunch break from my teaching job, chatting on my mobile phone to my father who had called from Australia, and wandering around the side streets of Hyotanyama, the little part of Osaka where I worked.
|My first snowman; Amagatsuji, Japan|
Suddenly, there was white stuff landing on me. It seemed a little like dandruff at first, and I didn't mention it to my father. There wasn't very much of it and it took me a while to figure out that it was actually snow. I was pretty thrilled, to say the least! It didn't last long, but it was snow fall, and fortunately a little more fell overnight.
Back at my apartment the next morning, I scraped together what had remained of the snow to build my first (fairly pitiful) snowman. You can see he had a carrot nose (because I knew from books that this is the way it's done) and his eyes are made from one yen coins. I think it's clear from the photo above that he was pretty tiny. I didn't care; I grew up building sandcastles but dreaming of snowmen, and here was my very first one. No doubt my Japanese neighbours thought me somewhat unusual, though.
|Snowy view across the rice paddy next to my apartment|
I did learn later in life how to build a bigger and better snowman, but that's a story for another post. The thrill of having "real live snow" fall on me was more than enough to make up for there not being that much snow around; I lived off this excitement for days. And that phone call is still the closest my father has ever got to snow fall action. He's over 70 now and has no grand desire to go snow chasing, so yes, there are plenty of people who actually never get to experience snow landing on them.
You get to have lots of new experiences when you travel, and while there's nothing especially deep and meaningful about seeing snow fall, it made a lasting impression on me. It also made me think about things I took for granted but others experienced very rarely - like seeing the ocean, something I do at least several times a week, and others do only after long, tiring trips in cars or planes.
Anyway, if you live in a snowy country and see a stranger going slightly crazy in falling snow, consider the idea that they might be someone just like me. Don't laugh at them - go and join them and laugh with them instead!