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When I was little, there was nothing I wanted to see more than snow.
Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne, while there were certainly cool winters and plenty of rain, there was never any snow, and rarely opportunities to travel to places where there was such. Thus until the age of perhaps eight or nine, I had never seen or experienced real snow.
The idea of this mysterious white substance was something incredible in my impressionable young mind. It represented all the magic that was still in the world of every young child. It seemed almost like icing sugar, dusted over the world like a cake made by my mum; it had to be sweet and soft, and although it went hand in hand with the coldest places on earth, my little beach-bred mind could not comprehend temperatures lower than 10 degrees celsius, so therefore, was not alarmed by the idea that it was actually frozen water and in fact very, very cold.
While my first experience of proper snow was at 10 years old when we drove the 3 hours (and incredibly long and arduous trek in my mind at that time I will admit) out of the city and up a small mountain to experience the family tradition fo learning how to ski, I already had one close call with snow a few years earlier when a friend invited me along with her family to a themed mining town up a few hours away from our home. It was a sort of historical day out for kids, where you could pretend to mine for gold and learn about what it was like to live in Australia in the 1800s, a negative existence for those who had actually lived in the mining fields, but naturally a day of fun for families 200 years later. When we arrived, we learned that there was a promise of a “snow show” where at one o’clock strategically controlled snow was set to fall from the sky and delight children similar to myself from all across the country. The news of this event thrilled me, and I remember standing in the rustically designed main street (complete with an actor almost a little too convincingly playing the town drunk), waiting ecstatically, head pointed to the heavens, for the clock to strike and the snow to fall. And so, when the clock did hit one, and the sky was filled with bubbles rather than snow flakes, my friend and I were audibly disappointed and resentful having been tricked, as we then felt we had been, by the people that ran the attraction. In fact, one small girl in front of us heard our dismay, turned sharply back to us and hissed in as self important a tone as an ignorant six year old could muster, “it IS real snow!” with a flick of her hair—not only awakening in me the truth that adults could and do lie to children in order to make them happy, but that some children are also stupid enough to believe anything that they say.
As I came of an age that snow was no longer a miracle, I retained my joyous love of the stuff, but I became aware that this was not an opinion shared by everybody. Particularly when I came to London, where my classmates came from Siberia and Alaska, and a single flake of snow was enough to cause the city to come to a halt, I was amazed that these people who were lucky enough to grow up in places where snow was an everyday occurrence were not as mesmerised by the flurries as I was. I wished so desperately that I could have been able to experience snow days from school, have snowball fights with my friends on a regular basis, or build snowmen in my front yard, yet this was evidently not the case.
This mentality of course changed in England, where while it certainly does not snow as much as it does in other northern hemisphere countries, it is exponentially more than in Australia. While I did not experience a snow day I was able to build snowmen on my school field and marvel in wonder as I saw my dog sprint through the snowy park on a morning walk.
And it would be wrong to say that this happy attitude towards snow was not still my opinion until recently. I now find myself very much sick of snow. I spent my spring break in Canada, with my best friend and her family, up in the mountains near Whistler. Having not gone skiing since I’d left Australia, I was very much excited at the prospect to experience the wonder that is a ski park once again, but was, rather than once again an overjoyed oversized child, very much out of my element, and in fact, very uncomfortable in the snow. The cold reached minus 25 degrees, twice as cold as anything I had ever experienced before, and caused my lungs to seize up any time I left the comfort of the inside. I also found the intensity of the snow to be quite unlike anything I'd ever seen, and in fact, I ended up with a concussion after the first day on the slopes. After this awakening experience was over, we went back to Seattle, where my friend is from—where, while not close to the level Canada was, it was once again snowing. I was then getting to my limit of snow exposure, ready to return to London where I was expecting the beginning of spring when I was informed that it was colder in London then in Seattle, with a forecast of snow over the next two weeks. And my god, did it snow over those next two weeks. I sat in school, not wishing I was outside, jumping through the powder and throwing snow in the faces of my friends, but rather, like a young female scrooge, cursing the snow and all that reveled in it. While this period of snow was crushing my spirit and burning my lungs, I pushed through it knowing that spring was just around the corner, and thus, with the oncoming date of the twentieth of March, I noticed the daffodils beginning to bloom and spent an inordinate amount of money, I realistically shouldn’t have, on spring-themed clothing.
So, when March came around and the snow went away I was overjoyed (even though it snowed right up until February 28), but found myself once again dismal to see that the change in season was limited only to the absence of snow. The sky was still grey and the rain replaced its frosty cousin, falling from the sky just as liberally as the snow had the week before. This greatly affected my mood, and I remembered how when we first left the burning beaches I had grown up on, how seasonal affective disorder had affected my vitamin D deficient, 12-year-old self. I spiraled into worse and worse moods, yet soldiered on, as spring simply had to be around the corner. And yet, here I am, the day after Easter, driving through the North of England at the wish of my parents for a “family holiday” surrounded by snow, unable to see anything of the allegedly stunning countryside as the sky is so grey it looks like a curtain has been pulled around the car and tied with a ribbon of ice. People often ask us why would one ever move to England from Australia, why ever leave a tropical paradise for the greyest country in the world, and for many years, I laughed at these comments, as London was and still is one of my favourite places on Earth. Yet now, after five years of bleak skies and purple fingers shaking over old heaters, I am beginning to ask myself the same thing.
Snow no longer represents all thins magic to me. It represents the lack of sun, the absence of happiness and now, the longer it lasts, the constant reminder that even when it goes away, the sun will not replace it for a long time yet. I want so very desperately to escape this, to be lying on a beach somewhere, sweating because there are only so many clothes to take off, my skin peeling from sunburn, and my hands sticky from ice cream and iced tea, yet with a smile on my face and freckles all over my nose. I want to wear shorts and t shirts, not beanies and boots. I still refuse to wear gloves, even though my fingers burn every time I leave the house because my veins cannot cope with the freezing temperatures and the blood fails to reach my finger tips. This weather has sucked every ounce of life out of me and all I want is a glimpse of sunshine.
I understand now the annoyed expression the Siberians got on their faces when a snow fall was announced. Snow is not a thing of joy, it is an extreme inconvenience that should be avoided at all costs. If I have to see snow one more time, I’m packing my bags and moving to South Africa, or Jamaica, or god forbid, back to Australia—anywhere with the guarantee that I would never have to experience that filthy white crap again. I hate snow. And I am sick to death of the bloody cold.