I grew up in Southern California and, even though I had seen snow in the mountains when I was a kid, most of what I learned about snow came from movies. When I moved to the Northeast 11 years ago, I was in for a rude awakening. Here are some of the lies spread by the movie-makers…and believed by at least one naïve Californian.
1. Snow is pretty and white. Sure, the first few hours after a snow storm are gorgeous. And if you’re lucky enough to see snow cover rolling hills or a group of pine trees, it’s especially majestic. But in the urban world in which most of us live, snow is dirty. The plows send loads of oil and grime mixed with chunks of white into piles that line the streets and parking lots. After just a day or two, the once white blanket is nothing more than grey mush.
2. Don’t eat the Yellow Snow….Oh no, wait. That one is true.
3. Snow Angels are fun. We have all seen the movie scenes of people smiling as they make snow angels, giggling as they flop around in the pure white puff. It’s totally bogus. My Freshman year of College, after the first snow storm, I was so excited to go outside and play. My team mates and friends all made fun of “the silly California girl” as I wrapped up for some fun. As soon as I found a fresh spot, I threw myself down on my back and started flapping my legs and wings. Within seconds I could feel the cold snow on my back where my jacket had been tugged up by my arms. I felt crystals on my neck, slipping between my hat and scarf. And since I didn’t have proper boots, my shoes were filled with snow by the time I stood up. Not only did my “Angel” look nothing like the one in the movies, but my playtime was cut short by the unexpected frost-bitten sensation coursing through my body.
4. Snow = Snowball Fight! I always thought a good, clean snowball fight was standard practice when it snowed. One thing they never share in movies is that it takes a special kind of snow to make a snowball. Sometimes, snow is too heavy and wet. Sometimes it’s too soft and powdery. Only rarely does one some across perfect snowball snow. Even then, throwing a ball of flakes packed into a make-shift baseball is quite difficult. In my experience, the snowball exploded over my own head mid-throw more often than it found its target.
5. It only Snows at night, when children dream of a White Christmas. I always imagined waking up on Christmas Day and racing to the window to share with the rest of my house, “It SNOWED!” I had this idea in my head that snow was made by magic. Unfortunately, it is much more common to utter the words, “Ugh, it snowed. Can I use your ice scraper?”