I met a fellow Cal grad last night who moved to Zurich in July. "The food is worse, but the trams and buses are better," she summarized, "it's not that different than home. I haven't had one of those 'oh, sh*t I'm living in another country' moments. Have you?" While brushing ice off my coat I replied, "I think it was just now. This is my first experience with snowy weather."
Okay, I haven't been completely deprived (or spoiled, depending on how you look at it). I've been to places where there was snow on the ground; I attempted snowboarding recently and even have vague memories of sledding in Big Bear as a kid. But this is something different and painfully new. I'm not vacationing in a winter wonderland, snow stings my face as I walk out my front door. I live in a place where it snows.
To be completely honest, I do remember snow falling once in Scotland. I was entranced by the sight of it and unnerved by its lack of sound. The snow in Edinburgh didn't accumulate, though, and even if it had, I wouldn't have had to deal with it. My responsibilities as a university exchange student were so limited that I barely had to leave the dorm and get out from under the duvet.
I can't hide under the covers here, though. Remember my last post, the one glorifying my commute? That was pre-snow. Add downy flake to that pretty little picture and the reality of my commute becomes much icier and less serene. How can I gaze at the Alps and listen for farm animals when I'm struggling not to slide face first down the road? I slipped and fell to my knees once today and had two other close calls. The perks of being a live-in au pair are few, but I'll add waking up at work to the list.
The danger inherent in leaving the house now summons a lot of questions for me that are probably no-brainers for those who grew up with snow. How are you supposed to walk in this stuff? I am asking this in all seriousness. Are you supposed to adapt your gait to the slippery conditions or do you just hover over a handrail? Are you supposed to slow down or am I just wearing the wrong shoes? How did my mom deal with mountains of this stuff as a kid in Buffalo in the pre-polartech days? What did Mickey think when he first moved from India? Does Holly still wear heels in the slush?
I wouldn't be surprised if people continued to wear weather inappropriate clothing despite the recent snow fall. Yesterday evening, when Zurich got its first taste of snow for the year, I looked around to see how people would react. I wanted to approach people, shake them and say 'it's snowing! Can you believe this?! What are we supposed to do?' But the people on the streets didn't seem to even notice the falling powder. They walked around with their heads uncovered and carried on as if ice in your face is normal. I never really understood what it meant when people said that California didn't have seasons until now. It blows my mind that I will walk these presently icy streets in flip flops come July.
If you have experience with the white stuff and can offer some helpful tips, please leave a comment. Also comment if you have a better acronym for S.N.O.W.