On seeing snow fall for the first time at 25

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!

Comments

  1. ah, this brings back memories! being from india, i have only seen snow once as a kid while visiting Kashmir, but the real ‘experience’ was in Strasbourg early this year where I was teaching. It had been a long wait (since it was delayed) but I woke up one morning to see the city enveloped in white and still snowing. Overwhelming, to say the least!
    Great post, thanks for making me nostalgic 😉

  2. I saw a lot of snow as a child but then went through years when I didn’t see any. So as an adult my first snowfall was also exciting. It seemed as if I had last seen snow falling in another world!

  3. I too remember the first time I saw snow. We had recently moved to Germany, and one early morning as my husband was getting ready to go to work, he noticed snow was falling. So he woke me up and we both stood by the window looking out at the snow flakes. It was a lot of fun for a while….but not as much fun when you have to push a pram through pavements full of snow.

    • Aw, that’s a lovely first memory too, Sami! But I agree, actually living with snow is not anywhere near as fun. I had no garage when I lived in Germany and scraping the snow off my car at 6.30am so I could head off to work is not something I’m keen to do again!

  4. Seeing snow fall is exciting. Isn’t it? I love watching and playing in snow fall.

  5. Even here in our part of Italy last winter there were youngsters experiencing snow settling for the first time, as they had not had such a winter for at least ten years. I always get excited by snowfalls even though it was an annual occurrence as I was growing up.

  6. Yes, well I was in my early 50s when I saw my first snow! and it was wonderful! and very cold! we really enjoyed being out walking in it.
    As we live in Western Australia, snow is not a part of our lives, so we had to fly to the other side of Australia, to Tasmania, to experience snow. I would love to go back and experience it again.

  7. I didn’t really experience snow until moving to Colorado in my early 20’s. The first big storm, I ran outside and built a snowman too. Photos and everything! Now, I do seem to take it for granted more time than not. This winter I’ll try to remember the excitement of that first snow and appreciate it more…

  8. Look at this commercial on youtube “Fly emirates, new discovery, snow” . I loved it. And by the way from my experience too, I think your neighbors might have seen you (and me as gaijin) unusual in many ways!

    • Yes I’ve seen that one – fabulous!! And good point – I’m pretty sure my weird snowman wasn’t the only unusual thing my neighbours saw me do (unusual to them, at least).

  9. Looks like a white sheet spread on you place, it looks so cool and beautiful.

  10. When I was younger I saw a small patch of snow on the side of the road in New Zealand. I was so excited and when I look back on that memory it seems kind of strange that a small patch of slushy, melted ice made me so happy. I will hopefully experience proper falling snow (the fluffy kind haha) next year in Europe. I’m sure I will be just as excited 🙂

  11. None of the experiences are trivial when you travel. Every little one becomes meaningful, if not to everyone, at least to us. Little things like learning few phrases in a new language to talk to the locals thrill me so much every time.

    P.S That was one cute little adorable snow-man!

  12. When I was just 12 years old and living in New Zealand That time I had seen Snow fall but now I am in Italy but I really want to see Snow fall because I love it.
    Thanks for sharing this nice post about snow fall.just cool post.

  13. I have never seen the snowfall and never feel the beauty and felling of the snow fall. I think it was amazing to seeing snow fall. thanks for sharing your delightful experience with us.

  14. I’m 19 living in Indonesia, and I don’t experience snowfall yet:'(

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