The first snow always makes this Canadian extra giddy. I can’t stop smiling all day. I feel full of pure joy, like a kid, and I spend any forced indoor time staring out the windows, eager to get outdoors to play in it.
That’s exactly what this past week was for me – the first real snow on Friday the November 6 – and I was thrilled that a planned trip to the Fragrant Hills to photograph the leaves didn’t get cancelled.
I expected a small crowd at the Xiangshan Park, but it was a typical day with large tourist groups and school class trips. The air was frigid, but the blankets of snow draped across low limbs of trees were enough to warm us up with excitement. We snapped pictures of the perfectly smooth, clean, white layer upon nature’s jagged edges, the sparkling ice on newly turned orange autumn leaves, the cozy nooks of winter stillness so rarely seen in this climate.
I have never walked the full park and this day was no exception. It was too cold. My companions weren’t dressed properly and this Canadian had no extra gloves or lined boots on offer. They were shivering and ready for the warm car long before I was. Nevertheless, even though outnumbered, it didn’t dim my smile.
Since living in Beijing, I have come to appreciate snow so much more. It’s what we miss most that we learn to value. When we eventually move back to Canada, I have vowed to never curse the snow and appreciate the hushed hibernation it offers in winter. My Canadian family members laugh. “You just wait,” they say. “We’ll see if you can manage smiling throughout an entire Canadian winter!”
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift