I admit, my preferences for weather have changed since I came to the US. If I wake up to an overcast sky and the sound of slow rain, my face doesn’t light up with a terrifyingly big smile. I do not feel the need to throw open my window (which in my case would require me using a brick to break the glass cause the window in my room isn’t really a window) and lift my face to the light cool breeze. The reaction is more whiny here. A melodramatic groaning and turning over in bed. My heart complains and my body cringes in the anticipation of the cold wetness that will envelop me as soon as I step out of the house.
One of the reasons I don’t like rain here is obvious: human nature is designed to appreciate rarities. A gray sky hanging low with clouds and cold rain felt good in a warm, humid city like Karachi or in the burning heat of Lahore because it would be a welcome, seldom break. Another reason of course was that I did not have to walk around everywhere and travel on the bus to get to work and school and grocery stores. Rain loses its charm when everyday life worms itself in and hangs over the brow like a stray hair you can only feel and not really touch. (Oh the days when a spring shower was the best excuse to miss class and drive to a café for coffee and cinnamon rolls, or the chottay walay samosas at Defence morr).
And not to be judgmental or anything, the rain here… lacks spunk. There are no intoxicating whirls of wet earth that dance in the air, singing of the soon-to-arrive storm, people don’t come out into the streets or on their terraces, there are no sweet mangoes to buy nor anyone to fry pakoras. St Louis gets the occasional crazy thunderstorms (the kind that make little children cry because it sounds like a giant keeps falling from the sky on to metal roofs) but too often it is a boring humdrum rain without the crash of drunk clouds clanging into each other, no lightning shows in the sky.
I considered myself an expert on rain. But snow. This white stuff that turns the world into a winter wonderland, silencing everything as it falls in slow, dreamy twirls, blanketing streets and branches and cars and roofs, this is still new to me. I am not one for cold weather but I am glad that this winter was an actual winter.
St Louis had a winter storm! Canadians would fall off their rocking chairs laughing if they saw our perception of a winter storm but it started around midday and continued with its “wintry mix” of snowflakes, polished little hail and rain, creating a mess on roads all over the city! Schools were closed for the day and offices shut down early, people were stuck on highways, and our stairs are still covered with snow that freezes over and then melts a little more every day when the sun is out, then turning into ice overnight.
Waking up the next day was amazing. The air was crisp and cold, the sun was out and the world was a shimmering pure white canvas – at least in the morning. Every breath felt like it was cleansing my lungs, and the crunch of snow underfoot was comparable to stepping over dry leaves in Fall. We made snow angels, took dutifully cute pictures lying in the snow in our backyard, and had divine hot chocolate two days in a row.
I love the idiosyncrasies of snowy days: random ugly little snow creatures that appear in front of houses – this large blue-button eyed snow-gnome next to our house, and then the giant magnificent dinosaur snow-ice sculpture in the street behind our house! The dinosaur even had teeth. The slipping and sliding, the stepping into slushy puddles of surprising depth, footsteps crisscrossing snowy backyards and front porches, random messages left on pristine embankments, spontaneous snowball fights, little kids stopping suddenly to plunge their tiny gloved hands into snow piled along the sidewalks.
I think I like it. Despite our treacherous stairs and the sidewalks that have turned into wintery obstacle courses and the fact that I have not been able to wear anything but big boots. Bring on another winter storm!