Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another Odd Snowfall

So first we had the story that Baghdad was hit by snow for the first time in living memory, and I made mention that I briefly wished I could see it in person (before regaining my sanity).

Then, came news that Silicon Valley got a healthy dose of the white stuff.

Now comes news that Jerusalem, of all places, had to shut down because of a major snowfall there.

By way of confession, my first thought was something pretty snarky: let's check the travel schedule of Al Gore and see where he's been lately.

But there's something else to all this that I've noted, in all the stories: There are many, many people out there--even as they face inconvenience (and even danger)--who say, "This is wonderful!" From the Jerusalem story:

The wintry wonderland which Jerusalemites awoke to after days of increasingly-enthusiastic meteorological reports forecasting the great Jerusalem snowfall of 2008 sent children and adults into the streets and parks for snowball fights as a holiday spirit descended on the city.

...

"It's so much fun, and the city looks so clean and white," said Galit Cohen, 11, of Rishon Lezion, who was making a snowman in the city's central Sacher Park at midday.

"We're freezing," her mother Sigal said, dutifully bundled up in hats and gloves as a wintry mix of snow and rain fell from the sky, "but it's wonderful."

And from the earlier Baghdad story:

"When I was young, I heard from my father that such rain had fallen in the early '40s on the outskirts of northern Baghdad," Abdul-Hussein said, referring to snow as a type of rain. "But snow falling in Baghdad in such a magnificent scene was beyond my imagination."

...

Talib Haider, a 19-year-old college student, said "a friend of mine called me at 8 a.m. to wake me up and tell me that the sky is raining snow."

"I rushed quickly to the balcony to see a very beautiful scene," he said. "I tried to film it with my cell phone camera. This scene has really brought me joy. I called my other friends and the morning turned to be a very happy one in my life."

Now, this may be a weird thing to contemplate, giving that half of America is currently freezing its collective tush off--but why is this? Why is it that snow, which from any rational evolutionary perspective should be viewed an absolute disaster, can evoke feelings of such joy and peace? Even among the part of the population that lives in snowy areas--and only with dread anticipates the season of sidewalk shoveling--that first, clean snow of the season nevertheless sure looks beautiful, pristine, peaceful.

And for those of us who have from time to time succumbed to the temptation to associate Middle Easterners with things that go boom, to read stories about long-robed Arab men laughing and getting in snowball fights, tends to re-humanize them, does it not?

So if you're one of those people who's sick of the snow, and this post feels like I have no clue what I'm talking about (and adding insult to your injury), I'm certainly sorry about that. But for all its trouble, I think there's something about snow simply worth celebrating. There's something about it that renews the vigor and uplifts the spirit--for the first ten minutes at least, until everyone gets cold and scrambles to get back inside like sane people.

3 comments:

the Fish said...

Snow has aways moved me to marvel at the many, many beautiful and useful things God does with water. Even if you knew about surf, and baptism, and the water in our bodies, and rain and fog, and tea, and fish, and washing with it--who would have thought of snow?

Kristy said...

We live in snow and we love it. In fact, I find most people who live here actually enjoy it. Shoveling is really not as bad as some make it out to be. And nothing can match the beauty of a fresh snowfall. I'd take snow over rain any day!!

Timothy Power said...

Kristy, just out of curiosity--what part of the country do you live in?

I grew up all over, since my dad was Air Force, and most of those places had snow--including Germany (Spangdahlem AFB), Wyoming, Nebraska, and North Dakota. We've done our share of shoveling, and we know cold. But nevertheless, there is something really, really pretty about the stuff--especially the first real snowfall of the season, which seems to have a cleansing effect on the whole world. Yeah, when snow turns to muck by mid-March you want to be through with it; but that first, pristine snow lifts the spirits immensely.

I live near Sacramento now, with a California woman who doesn't handle cold well. Winter is our rainy season, and it's been going nearly non-stop now for the whole month of January. It's pretty soggy and dreary around here right about now. What I wouldn't give for just four inches of the white stuff...