Snow as a “background”

Since this my first Winter in Ithaca and the first time I am seeing snow, I am trying to appreciate as many aspects as I can. I remember two years ago in Davis CA, everyone was super excited because there was a chance of snow in Sacramento and maybe Davis. Everyone’s hopes were down because  it snowed in Sacramento around 3am, not in Davis. We did not get to see the flakes of snow.

Before the first actually snow in Ithaca, I thought everything would look pristine, and white. Students told me that it looks pretty when the snow first falls, but then it turns gray or black. This was surprising to me because I never imagined that black snow existed, even though it does make sense. It’s similar to rain fall. When the water falls, it looks clear, but when it reaches any dirt on the ground, the color of the rain changes to brown.

A few days after it snowed, I noticed that the sidewalk had two different layers. A fluffy, white top layer and grey bottom layer. I soon realized that snow is part of the “background” of my life in Ithaca. I only experience it when I am walking outside, when snowflakes land on my head or face, and when I take time to look outside. On a typical snowy day, I spend about 30 minutes passing by the snow. The snow has become something that I accept as common to Ithaca.

helen knit illus 1When I gain a “new,” surprising experience with the snow, I appreciate the snow beyond its aesthetic appeal. Even though slipping around has never been fun for me, the hills of Ithaca make slipping fun even when I do fall. Every morning I carefully walk down the steep hill from my apartment to get to the Commons. When there is snow, I take extra precautions, but I still slip and have fallen several times. Slipping is surprising and happens very quickly. When I am in the process of slipping, I find that there is nothing I can do to stop it. The slip and fall can happen all in one breath. It is one of the few times I feel I have no control over what happens and this is what I find so charming about experiencing snow.

The snow is very playful. After I fall and get up, I often imagine what it must have looked like to the people driving their cars, or the people behind me. I fell earlier today and as I was sitting on the hill, someone walked by and didn’t turn to look or ask if I was okay. Maybe slipping and falling is common.  Nonetheless, even though I spent about 30 minutes with the snow on this snowy day, I had recurring memories of my 3 second experience of slipping and falling in the snow. Maybe the snow isn’t just a “background” for me since I have carried thoughts of it throughout my busy day. Thinking about the snow and re-imagining experiences in it can be similar to my direct exposure to it.

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