Snowy capes, snowball fights with kids laughing and the captivating headline “winter wonderland”. That’s what they sell.
Postcards, travel sites, commercials…How many of those,have never exploited at least once the concept of winter wonderland? Quite a few, huh? Well, that’s the image that was engraved in my head most of my life.
They sell you,big dreams about skiing, snowball fights, and thus set you to associate the iconic snowman with its carrot nose, borrowed scarf and twig ligaments with the thrill of snowy days. It would be totally hypocritical on my behalf to state that I’ve never had a snowball fight, or that I’ve never indulged in the naive pleasure of building a snowman. I did it all and I relished every second of it. Yet, there are quite some things about winter, that they never mention in magazines and travel sites. When we know that the mountains (and their humongous load of snow and ski resorts) attract thousands of tourists (that’s being modest right now!) each season, we do not have to wonder why winter and most particularly snow, is being so glorified.
Growing up in Mauritius, where 15° C is considered cold and synonymous of ‘winter’, I was thrown to the lions when I experienced -7°C in Paris! Hopefully, I had stocked up an awful bunch of parkas, coats and socks for that occasion! So, little fool that I was, I had to adapt quickly to the snowy landscape or perish. That’s how radical that felt to me…
The most blatant thing about winter in Europe is that it’s cold. I can feel you roll your eyes right now but let me elaborate. It’s that type of cold that seeps into your very bones. Alas, my skin was not as prepared as my wardrobe. The first sign came as dry patches. What I thought was just a minor issue became a fully fledged dermatological problem, with eczema dermatitis and frost bites. The only one who was happy about it, was my dermatologist whose pockets were filled during that period (talk about me saving money ay). Moreover, despite wearing gloves, my fingers were aching most of the time. Those things are definitely not postcard material, right?!
Also, there is the fact that your day-to-day ground can become lethal in the matter of a few days. I have found myself walking like a penguin, trying to brave the icy pavements despite my shoes making it feel like I’m actually skating. Staircases also become extreme sport and I have to master all the skills I have (often, I can’t seem to muster any) to maintain upright. You might say that buying proper shoes greatly help. Ew, maybe it works for you, but for me, the nagging feeling that I might fall and break my back at any moment, is enough to get me stressing the whole time I’m outside. Plus, for those who have seen it and know the backstage of ‘snowy days’, snow equals to transport problems! I have had to wait for thirty minutes just to get into a train and had to endure another thirty minutes to reach my station. And FYI, this journey altogether usually takes me fifteen minutes! People owning cars also have to bear with snow and ice obscuring their windshields and mirrors and trust me: There is no better thing that pisses you off early morning, than having to grate all that ice off in your working clothes!
I’m one of those persons, that absolutely abhor the idea of dirtying their shoes in any way. Trekking is an exception, because it is fun and you cannot help but get your soles muddy/dirty. I even pay extra care while jogging! So…You get where this is going; Snow does get your footwear dirty. People think snow is white, like a fluffy cloud where you can make snow angels. It’s all that. But it is also gets muddy like swamp water in most areas. Dirty soles, car tires, muddy trolleys and God knows what, coming and going get the white surface, brown. Try walking in twenty centimeters of muddy water. That’s how it feels in reality.
Then, girls will relate to that one, when the temperature starts warming up and the snow starts melting, that’s when you have to be swift like a ninja to avoid ending up like a drenched wreck when passing under trees, veranda porches and so on.Don’t even think about doing fancy stuffs with your hair, it is of no use. I don’t often wear more than a lipstick when going to class but when I do, I make sure it’s not raining/ snowing or anything outside. Picture wearing your 50 euros foundation topped up by your 40 euros mascara only to receive a big fat droplet of water on your eyelids. Yeah, that makes me cringe too.
All that ranting just to say that I was clearly taken by surprise by the advent of snow. And indeed, it was tricky to adjust my ‘tropical-state of mind’ (let’s refer to it as such) at first. But when you survive the first few days of hardships, you learn the tricks of the trade and deftly make your way in this new and unpredictable environment. I, for my part, have come to love snowy days, for they bring out the child in every one of us, irrespective of our age.