S’normal – My first time
The first snowfall was always exciting. It won bonus points in my books if enough of it appeared overnight, enough to cause school to be cancelled. (Although the school board eventually came up with this terrible rule that they would only stop the buses from running, but school would still be open and those of us that lived in town would be expected to go, even though the sidewalks and roads weren’t plowed! What a joke!)
Out of the norm experiences
In Dunedin, New Zealand, snow was uncommon. I’d hear on the weather forecast “Snow expected to 300m”, which to the foreign ear, sounded like they were calling for 300 meters of snow!? No, no, they meant that out in the suburbs on the hills, it would snow 300 meters above sea-level. One time, in June 2009, while I was on a teaching practicum with a class of year 8’s (from hell), I was given the gift that most teachers in Canada get regularly, but was completely foreign to New Zealand: a SNOW DAY.
Yes, that’s right, the 5 centimeters of snow that fell at sea-level reeked havoc on the entire centre for less than 24 hours. With no snow management practices in place (because it is such a rare occurrence) driving in the city was a hazardous nightmare.
Upon graduating from Otago with my teaching diploma, I jumped on the chance to move to the “Winterless Far North.” For the next three years, my ‘winters’ looked and felt a lot different than anything I’d ever known before. The average ‘low’ was usually at most about 12 degrees, snow was impossible in the sub-tropical climate and although the rain might set in for days,, that was good for our water tanks.
Thom, on the other hand, grew up in Ahipara, the winterless wonderland that I’d grown to love. He was used to living in boardies and jandals year round. He’d moved to Auckland to do his apprenticeship as an electrician, but had never ventured down the line in winter to experience the powdery fluff for himself.
He was saving his first time for something special. Or so we joked, at least.
Thom’s first time in Snow
I was planning to have a white (or at least cold) Christmas for the first time in 4 years this year, and this would be Thom’s first time in the snow. Although I knew it was entirely possible to encounter snow on the West Coast in May, I wasn’t counting on it happening.
We’d spent the Victoria Day long weekend in Kelowna (searching for beef jerky) and then a night in Revelstoke camping with my cousin and his friends. On the Monday, we were Alberta-bound (with a last minute decision to make a beeline to TBEX). The highway took us through Revelstoke National Park, and through Glacier Nataional Park to the summit of Rogers Pass. There, on the side of the road at the highest plateau, we spotted it. Thom made the left turn to cross traffic and pull over.
A pile of snow was still frozen to the ground. To me, it was a pile of crusty crap long since left over from who knew how long ago. But to Thom, it was a brand new experience waiting to be enjoyed. It didn’t matter that it hadn’t freshly fallen, that it wasn’t soft and fluffy or that most people wouldn’t look twice at it.
My boardie and jandal-wearing boyfriend jumped out of the truck, kicked off his jandals, and ran barefoot through the snow. I wasn’t far behind, camera in hand (and wearing my own jandals!) taking pictures of his reactions.
He jumped up on a picnic table to escape the snow’s cold grasp on his tootsies.
From there, he made his first jump into the snow. We used to jump from decks of different heights into huge piles. This wasn’t quite the same, but this is Thom’s story, not mine.
He also made and threw his first snowball. Guess who the lucky recipient was for that one? Yours truly, of course.
Getting to experience new things is one of best parts of traveling, and of life – sometimes it’s something cool like seeing a bear closer than I ever expected or something a little less cool, like getting kicked off the plane on the way home from Thailand.