24 January, 2012

A snow day

Frozen snow out the front of our house this
morning. Nice and crackly to walk on, not too
slippery, thankfully.
Last night, after a very grey day, the rain turned to snow. I realised this while I showered in our very cold shower room. The shower room temperature is usually close to the outside temperature, which means well under 10 degrees Celsius. If there is a significant breeze, it usually joins you in there too because the louvres don't fully shut. While I was braving it last night there were some very large things slapping into the opaque glass of the louvres. After I was fully dressed, I looked outside and yes, we had snow coming down.

You can see the snow wasn't very deep. The boys had fun with
frozen puddles, and seeing which ones would hold their weight.

It is funny, though, how previous experience colours your view of the present. My Facebook page is always interesting. I have a large variety of friends from different countries, climates etc. At this time of year I have people "sweating it out in Melbourne" and others "digging their way out" in Sapporo. So it was interesting to watch people's reactions to last night's snow fall. We had the comments, "heavy snow in Tokyo" and "is amused watching the amount of time devoted on the news to snow in Tokyo. One of the reporters at Shinjuku station excitedly reported that white snow was falling outside (camera shot indeed shows a few white flakes falling from the sky). I guess it's all a matter of perspective and what you're used to."

I have to admit, that after living in Sapporo for nearly four years, where every year they get metres of snow over several months, I don't have the awe for the stuff that most Australians do.

Yes, it is pretty and fun to play in. But it is also cold, wet, and dangerous. In large amounts it is labour intensive and very inconvenient. I really do sound like cold, wet blanket, don't I? 

Unfortunately the park near our place is very flat, no sledding
hills at all. The little hill you see in the background leads
straight into a little creek. But snow ball fun worked.
The one thing snow does make me is a bit nostalgic. I love the way it transforms a bleak city landscape into something beautiful. I like the sound it makes as you walk over it. I love how much fun kids can have in it. And although those four winters I spent living in snow-country were not much fun (for more reasons than the snow), somehow I manage to dredge up some nostalgia.

So, if you haven't already guessed, school was cancelled today. But that was only CAJ (and other international schools, I believe). Japanese schools were still in session. While we were at the park we saw mums riding bikes (!!!!) with their kids loaded up. And others walking their little ones along in their kindergarten uniforms—shorts! 

Japan has this concept of "Gaman", which essentially means, "Put up with it and do your best." Or "patience, tolerance, self-control, endurance". It is what they say to the kids who are freezing in their shorts. It was what was said to me when I was being wheeled from the operating theatre after a caesarian to deliver my second son and they broke the news that they hadn't added in any painkillers to my drip. It is what the world saw when disaster struck last year and Japanese were patient and lacking in panic and crime. And it is why schools remain open when adverse weather conditions strike.

It is something that is hard for Westerners to understand. We are more interested in our own comfort, in our own convenience. But it is probably something we could do well to learn about from the Japanese (though I'm not sure about the shorts-in-winter idea).

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