Christmas- Gratitude and Winter Snow Magic

Early snow on tree berries. Calgary AB Nov 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Early snow on tree berries. Calgary AB Nov 2014. Photo by J.Chong

Shock of Christmas First Snow for Immigrants 
Have you ever watched the delight of someone who experiences falling snow for the first time in life? I have –twice. First time, was a cousin’s child who watched snowflakes fall during their first year in Canada after immigrating from southern China.

The second time was a few years ago, when I worked with some Filipino employees at the office for a large construction project in Metro Vancouver. During October with still flaming autumn orange trees, one of the guys claimed he saw snow. He actually confused autumn frost with snow. Another Filipino employee in my department, got over her shock of snow after trying to walk-mince across the parking lot sparsely covered with snow.

Yes, my parents did experience snow for the first time when they immigrated to Canada in the 1950’s. I don’t know what it was like except my mother alluded how difficult it was for her –different culture, not knowing English, isolated from her family and how cold it was after she arrived in Canada in December.

All power of Nature's snow beauty among mountain forests. Banff National Park, near Lake Louise. Photo by J.Chong
All power of Nature’s snow beauty among mountain forests. Banff National Park, near Lake Louise. Photo by J.Chong
Snow falls heavily. Kimberly, British Columbia, a skiing mountain town. 2013. Photo by J.Chong

Snowfluffies: Part of My Canadian Christmas Psyche
I’ve never lived anywhere else where there was no snow, no winter winds howling at all. I’ve always wanted the magic of snow for Christmas holidays. When living in Canada my whole life, it is possible to experience at least a day or whole week of December, Christmas month, with some snowfluffies for a memorable number of years. (However someone from Vancouver Island might challenge me on that claim. It’s more rain than snow.)

Christmas– Spiritual, But Also Sensory Experience
I would like to believe that a tropical palm tree Christmas, is the same sensory experience as strolling in the cold outdoors in awe of fairy evening snowfall and pure clean white snow blanketing streets and houses. The city street noises muffled as snow piles up and noise from cars and human activity fades as peace falls over the neighbourhood.

Fresh snow clings to birch tree bark. Yes, it was pinkish. Golden, British Columbia 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Fresh snow clings to birch tree bark. Yes, it was pinkish. Golden, British Columbia 2014. Photo by J.Chong
After early November snowfall. Calgary AB 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Snow falling gently outside this tree canopy in early November. Calgary AB 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Christmas tree with rosehip berries and pomegranate decorations grace newly retrofitted downtown Seattle train station. Photo by J. Chong 2014.
Christmas tree with rosehip berries and pomegranate decorations grace newly retrofitted downtown Seattle train station. Magnificent restoration harkens to glory of rail travel. Interior looks like a snowy white wedding cake. Photo by J. Chong 2014.

Here are my little Christmas haikus and wishes.  They are both very different –one of  joyous dancing frenzy, like a snowstorm and the other gliding into a peaceful, snowy twilight calm. May your Christmas and holidays carry you in lightness, peace and gratitude.

Snow -winter star dust
Float crystalline dreams earthward,
Twinkle step, leap up.

Light shines through pine cone etch design while on snowy park walk. Calgary AB 2013. Photo by J.Chong
Light shines through pine cone etch design while on snowy park walk. Calgary AB 2013. Photo by J.Chong

Snow stars, whirl ‘n twirl,
Jump dancin’, beboppin’ spin,
 Inhale deep joy and peace.

Fast moving modern piano-cello duet. “Let it Go” for Disney’s Frozen. Music piece based on baroque, 16th century composer, Vivaldi’s Winter. Performed by The Piano Guys.   A joyous shout to the world among snow and ice.  Think of the different moods of snowfall  –gentle, sometimes hard-driving. But always free.

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61 Comments Add yours

  1. velovoiceblogspot says:

    Beautiful reflections, Jean. And I love the gently falling snowflakes on the blog! Hope you’re wrapped up warm with your feet to the fire, enjoying watching it drift from sky to ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I have a fake flame natural gas fire burning in my fireplace. It does provide some gentle, minor natural gas heat. I live in a condo. Still you reminded me…I forget I have this fireplace with the fake flames! We’ve had several different snowfalls already with the latest on a weekend with -40 degrees C cold! I wasn’t around in the province at the time. 🙂

      Like

  2. I was crossing 8th street last year when a man in his 20s from Africa shouted out in delight in experiencing his first ever snow fall. It was enchanting, to say the least – he made the snow seem like magic to me! We chatted and laughed together briefly before going our separate ways.
    Diana xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jean says:

      It’s always fun to witness others’ first time experiences with snow. Of course there are those who dislike the cold no matter what. Hope you have a great Christmas Diane. As a kid I used to be fascinated by snowflake crystalline structure before it melted.

      Like

      1. Thanks Jean! Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and New Year as well!

        Like

  3. Wonderful winter pictures, love them. Here in north Germany we have zero snow and about 1 Degree Celsius, everything is just grey with some rain…

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Seems like…Vancouver BC where they get more rain, grey days at this time of year. There is snow in the city only for a few days each winter. A lot of German tourists (or many foreign tourists) love visiting our Rocky Mountain areas where I live about 120 km. southwest of this beautiful region where some of my blog post photos were taken. However in Calgary, yes we get a real dump of snow several times throughout a winter. I suppose German locals head out to Switzerland or Austria for skiing.

      Like

      1. There are many places in Germany as well for winter sports however the north where I live is just too mild for anything 🙂

        One day I hope to visit Canada however I can not decide whether to go for a winter trip or during summer

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        1. Jean says:

          Depends which parts of Canada you wish to visit. In all honesty, lots of pure white snow in the mountains is best experienced maybe west of the Rockies in Mount Revelstoke and Golden British Columbia where the winter temperatures are not as prone to being so cold. Meaning temp at -10 to -15 degrees C. We’ve gone snowshoeing in those areas. However some of the mountain towns are simpler and you really need to be outdoors people to enjoy winter. Banff and Lake Louise would give you best of both worlds in winter…true snow with wilderness parks to hike, organized group tours if needed. It is a national park. There are cultural activities and restaurants in Banff, Lake Louise just has the world famous chateau by the frozen turquoise lake plus lots of mountain trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing (which is easy for people to do), etc. With many thick forests with soaring trees, etc. It is bear country but in winter they tend to hibernate. There is other large wildlife…

          Best time to visit Canada in my opinion, and avoid some peak summer crowds is early-mid September (our fall), Vancouver and province of British Columbia still offers a lot same for Rockies in Alberta. Then Toronto, Montreal/Quebec would be lovely during that time. Email me anytime if you are planning.

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          1. Thank you so much for these information. I am more of an outdoor person and my wife is the complete opposite so I guess we have to meet somewhere in the middle 🙂

            During winter time I am used mostly colder temperatures around -20 to -30 degrees Celsius inFinland but also with most of the years much snow (except last year where we had it just icy cold and no snow!). I will definitely come back to this little outline here when planning a trip to Canada.

            Like

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    Sometimes I forget how beautiful the snow really is! Thank you for reminding me of the beauty rather than just the drudgery of shoveling it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Aye, Sue. I can rhapsodize maybe more easily because I live in a condo and hence, don’t have to shovel snow. 🙂 But still, tramp through bitter cold (-40 degrees C this past weekend!), more snow, ice and slush when it melts….oops, let’s not spoil the magic. It still is wonderful when snow does fall as one walks about.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sue Slaght says:

        I am going to keep your post in mind next time I am whining. 🙂

        Like

  5. buntymcc says:

    Thank you for introducing me to The Piano Guys; such joy in the snow! I love snow and grew up with lots of it. I even love to shovel, when my back allows! Great Calgary photo with the orange leaves, the snow falling and the guy waiting for his dog to pee!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thanks buntymcc for uh..the dose of reality re dog, if one wants to examine the photo real hard. Yes, the Piano Guys certainly bring a vibrant spin to classical instrumental music. Shovelling is great as long as the snow is not heavy wet snow. Nice to shear off just 2-5 cm. every few hrs., especially in the evening with flakes still falling gently and when there’s no wind.

      Hope you get the remake of your blog up and running. Merry Christmas in PEI.!

      Like

      1. buntymcc says:

        Ummm did I say I was remaking my blog? I think you may have mixed me up with someone else.

        Like

        1. Jean says:

          When I click on the web address that comes with your gravatar/comment, it leads one to an empty blog theme. Really, no big deal if your blog is private/under construction.

          Like

          1. buntymcc says:

            My active site is http://www.buntymcc.wordpress.com. I have a dormant site, called Macbeth.. and a test site called ACT (a community theatre) .

            Like

  6. livelytwist says:

    Ah, the snowflakes on your blog add to the charm of your post. But I don’t like snow. We don’t get too much of it here in The Netherlands. After the initial pristine white, it quickly turns to slippery slush or hardens to slippery black ice. The streets don’t look pretty white like your photos. 🙂

    But there is something calming about being indoors and staring at the white lawn. Indoors for me as the cold isn’t my friend. Christmas in a tropical country like Nigeria is different but fun. When I was younger, the perimeter of our home was lined with circular-trimmed pine trees, which would be decorated with lights. The harmattan breeze at Christmas provided reprieve from the heat and rainy season was far away.

    Hey, you made me go down lane 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Pretty white in our city does eventually turn to slush or what we call “snirt” which is combined snow and dirt (which could be sand used to combat slipperiness). Sure we get black ice as well as hardened slush/rocky icy snow on pavement.

      The calming effect of pure white snow is felt during snowfall, just after it or in wilderness mountain areas. Probably might explain why some people are such enthusiastic skiers despite some really cold temperatures that we get..ie. -40 degrees C. just a few days ago. Apparently Calgary was the coldest area on earth for a day! What is harmatten breeze? I look forward to your holiday greetings via blog one day to the world, Lively.

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      1. livelytwist says:

        The Harmattan is a hot, dry, and dusty wind blowing over West Africa. It brings desert-like weather conditions: it lowers the humidity, dissipates cloud cover, and prevents rainfall formation. In the south of Nigeria where I grew up, harmattan mornings were usually cold and hazy.

        -40, no no no 🙂

        Like

        1. Jean says:

          Very interesting wide weather phenomena. We get the weather phenomena of chinook winds that are created via the Rocky Mountains and where our city is located. Creates extreme weather temperature changes within 1 day. Sometimes a 20 degree C rise! At times, accompanied by strong winds. For reasons if it happens, it tends to be mid to late afternoon, when I’m biking home..headwind or knocked around by side winds. We have a lot less trees for blockage.http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chinook/ Chinook is a First Nationa (or native Indian) word for “snow eater”. An apt word.

          I’m wondering if there are certain parts of the U.S. that experiences similar weather like Nigeria. Canada actually does have desert areas ..in British Columbia where it’s very dry and temperatures rise up to 35 degrees C or more. There is scrub brush as vegetation, etc. But of course the far Arctic has large swaths that are actually desert. People forget that. the tundra does grow some plant life but whole stretches that cannot sustain trees, diverse vegetation, etc.

          Like

          1. livelytwist says:

            Must be tough biking against the wind.
            Nigerian weather is tropical. In the south humidity is high, that’s why Hamattan is welcome. I think the Harmattan is exclusive to West Africa…
            Such a variety of weather world wide, we can choose where we want to live . . . maybe 🙂

            Like

            1. Jean says:

              Or we never experience ever certain weather phenomena. Not sure if I really want to experience a typhoon/monsoon. I already did experience a major river flood which evacuated over 100,000 in our city last year.

              I don’t know about the Netherlands but in southern Ontario it does get humid hot up to 35 degrees C with 100% humidity in the summer. New York City can be like that. Of course, in Ontario palm trees don’t grow outdoors.

              Wishing you a great holiday/Christmas this month, lively.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. livelytwist says:

              Nah, it doesn’t really get humid here in summer. They say the climate is ‘temperate’ 🙂
              Wishing you a lovely Christmas holiday too!

              Like

  7. Lani says:

    Snow is definitely magic! I grew up in Hawaii so I never experienced snow until I left to go to Colorado for college. I wanted the seasonal experience, the mountains and snow. The first time I saw falling snow was when I was getting ready to go to class. I was outside Hesperus Hall and I recall looking up with utter joy. I know my mouth was open, too.

    My friend jokingly said, “You’ll change your mind about snow when it doesn’t stop snowing.” and there was some truth to that. That year the snow was so heavy it collapsed the roof of one of the buildings and threaten a couple of others. So, my friend’s words were true!

    But I miss snow…not driving in it though! Happy holidays from Thailand 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Wow, collapsing roofs from snow is serious but then maybe the building wasn’t built to meet building code standards. Yes too much snow puts an enormous strain on cost and effort to remove the snow. It happened last year here and overbudget spending went into several million extra $$$.

      I enjoyed Hawaii a lot (Big Island, Kauai and Maui on 2 different trips) since it is so unlike mainland US. However after awhile I would miss drastic 4 seasonal changes. Well, the -35 degree C winter days I wouldn’t long for it.

      May your holidays in Thailand be memorable and surely, will be bright. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mabel Kwong says:

    Beautiful shots of the snow. I love the first one, snow on autumn leaves. Not something you see and experience every day. I have never experienced snow in my life. It does snow up here in the mountains in Melbourne, which are about a two hour drive from where I am in the city. I don’t know how I’ll feel if I do get to experience snow since I am not a fan of the cold. But everyone says snow falling is like magic, so maybe I’ll find the experience an unforgettable one.

    Thanks for sharing that video by The Piano Guys. I love them!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Hope you get to experience falling snow one day in Aussieland at least, Mabel. Life is full of surprises, you never know the circumstances which this may happen. Glad you enjoyed the Piano Guys piece also.

      Like

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        Ah, you’re another person who calls Australia “Aussieland”. Not many of us Australians use that phrase. Maybe one day I’ll travel up to the mountains in Melbourne, who knows. Or it might snow in Melbourne next winter, you never know. In winter, Melbourne is famous for hail. That’s the closest experience for me to snow, I reckon.

        Like

        1. Madoqua says:

          Mabel, you should go up to the Victorian Alps sometime. I too, dislike the cold, but snow in our mountains, with the Snowgums in the background……pure magic!

          Like

          1. Mabel Kwong says:

            I would love to make a trip to the Victorian Alps sometime. They do get a good deal of snow throughout winter and skiers love it. I take your word for it that snow is pure magic 🙂

            Like

            1. Madoqua says:

              Well worth the effort, but book well in advance if you plan to stay. The alps are about a 2hr drive from Wodonga, which is a good large regional centre for accommodation.

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Madoqua says:

    I do love the snow, and have spent many wonderful days enjoying our local snow (it snowed regularly where we lived in central NSW, but it seldom settled or lasted long) and also the snow in our beautiful mountains. But my most amazing snow experience was last year, when I went to the Hartz Montains in Germany. It was like being in fairyland.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      I assume that you got into the Hartz Mountains by car, bus ..or bike, Madoqua? You ought to experience our Canadian Rocky Mountains. We also have snow draped mountain ranges in British Columbia. Have you ever tried skiing or snowshoeing. Not sure if snowboarding would suit us middle-aged folks, but my partner’s cousin learned to snowboard in Germany or maybe it was in Switzerland when he was over 50 yrs.
      What is Snowgums or did you mean Snow bums –what we call ski bums, real skiing affecinadios? (Too lazy to check dictionary now.)

      Like

      1. Madoqua says:

        I got to the Hartz Mountains by train, then went to the summit by steam train. It was wonderful! Canadian Rockies are definitely on my list, but not to cycle (too cold an too much hard work going uphill!).
        Snowgums are a species of Eucalyptus tree which thrives above the snowline. They are not very tall, but have beautiful pink, greeny and grey bark. I will have to find some photos….. They are one of the most beautiful Australian trees.

        Like

        1. Jean says:

          So if you post a tree photo in your blog somewhere…or find one. Very interesting….pinkish bark seems like the one featured here of the silver birch trees in this post. By the way, it’s not totally typical the silver birch tree has much pink in the bark. Let me know if you have any questions about travelling in the Canadian Rockies. In early January there will be a different post featuring one of our wilderness parks.. If you type in “Rockies” in the blog search box or mountains, you’ll get posts with photos, etc. My partner is working with a bunch of cyclists, in volunteer capacity to promote cyclo-touring in British Columbia. So here’s more of their stuff: http://www.cyclotouringbc.com/wordpress/

          Like

          1. Madoqua says:

            Thank you for the link. I will definitely have a look at their site. And yes, I will post a photo of some Snowgums.
            I am keen to read more of your blog, and will look out for the posts on the Rockies.

            Like

            1. Jean says:

              Sorry, I need to correct myself so you get more useful blog posts: type in “Rocky” into the blog search box instead.

              Like

      2. Madoqua says:

        I love skiing too, but have not been for a long time. We don’t have big snowfields like Canada, ours are small and very expensive. New Zealand has some lovely ski fields, but I have only admired them – not skiied on them (yet!).

        Like

  10. Beautiful images Jean. My first snow was very delightful, I shared the joy with students fellow who came from tropical countries. I remember we spent our evening outside and built our first snowman 😀 There is not much snow in the South of the Netherlands so having snows is really special. As a person who was raised in a tropical country, I feel the Christmas atmosphere is totally different compare to where I live now. The snow and xmas decoration are certainly much more in Europe compare to the country where I grew up. I guess in the country where I grew up, Christmas was more religious, as Indonesians who celebrate Christmas are actually going to the Church for the mass service during the Christmas eve and the day after. I remember there was less “x’mas shopping campaign” as well. My mother usually took us to the church in the evening and later having dinner together with the rest of the family. There was no snow and usually hot or bit raining but it was a joyful one too, perhaps in the sense of being together with the rest of the family 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      I had understood that Indonesia also has significant Muslim population. So for Christians it may be another reason to celebrate the real spirit of Christmas. I do Christmas shopping for gifts throughout the year and put a general dollar limit per person since I have a big family. So I experience the less of the consumer madness just before and after Christmas and the crowds. I used to really enjoy that but over the last few years, I’ve lost my appetite for that. But I do enjoy the Christmas lights at night, traditional decorations, instrumental classical Christmas music, carols and …of course nice clean snow. In the last few years, my partner and I have spent a few days on Christmas and thereafter in the mountains, snowshoeing and enjoying some lovely meals.

      This Christmas is very different for my birth family because my father is dying of cancer. Literally. So family members keeping vigil by father’s hospital bedside, feeding him.

      So Indah, I agree for Christmas in any way you look at it, is good to be with family and friends who care for one another.

      Joyeaux Noel. May your Christmas be warm at heart with your loved ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, and yours too! 🙂

        Like

  11. TinLizzie72 says:

    More pictures of the train station please! I love the falling snowflakes on your site, too. I only like snow if I’m inside – Once I have to get to work in it, I’m much less enchanted. It gets gross too fast. But I’ve only experienced snow from a big city, where it gets gross fast.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      The whole inside of train station is white with some green decorative tile accents, tinlizzie. A great way to greet Seattle train riders. Have you taken your bikes onto Amtrak trains yet?

      Yes those photos only show lst hr. or so in city. Rest is in wilderness for pure white snow that lasts and lasts. Merry Christmas tinlizzie!

      Like

  12. Girl Gone Expat says:

    Thanks for great music, pictures and some of that holiday spirit! As I also grew up with white winters I don’t get the Christmas holiday spirit unless it is a white one! 🙂 We did celebrate one Christmas in Mexico just to try something new, but doubt that will happen again. There is just something about the snow loaded trees and the crisp cold weather… Unfortunately not much snow left in Calgary now with double digit above zero temperatures!

    Happy holidays!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      As you know, we may be “lucky” to get more snowflurries before Christmas. As long as it doesn’t get too frostbite cold, I’m ok with that. I’m not keen to try out a tropical Christmas unless I was actually living the corner of the world. We’ve been spoiled by fairy snow landscapes and twinkling lights at night. Merry Christmas to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The snow shots are just wonderful, the tree with the red simply stunning. If I tried snapping the birch, it’d come out dull. :/ Enjoyed your thoughts, J. I grew up with snow in NYC and yes, it brings a magic that only snow can. But this bird doesn’t mind staying on the warm side. =)

    D.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Keep those snowy romantic dreams …to celebrate Californian warmer days during Christmas. Hope you and family enjoy special times and memories this year.

      Like

  14. Happy holidays! It’s nice to hear from a snow-dweller who appreciates snow. The piano-cello duet is fantastic. Where are those guys??

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Not sure where those 2 musicians were filmed. I’m sure there was a ton of shooting to piece together the whole video which highlights their playing. Warmest wishes for a great holiday for you and your family, jb.

      Like

  15. I find the notion of snow very romantic, especially since I come from the South of india. My first experience with snow was fairly recent and I can relate with your post..

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      I think everyone should experience snow 1-2 times in their lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Chrissy Jee says:

    Your pictures of untouched snow are breath-taking. So peaceful. I live a suburb of NY right outside of NYC. We get snow but it is very quickly plowed, shoveled, played, sledded, etc. The picture in Banff, was it in the evening or were the trees just blocking the light?

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      The photo of Banff with the pink red sky was for real in the evening. Just one of those magic moments of being there at the right time and place. It was actually taken in Lake Louise area which is within the Banff National Park– 30 km. north of the town of Banff.

      The other photo of soaring snow draped evergreen forests, is in a slightly different area on another day on a snowshoeing trail still near the sunset sky photo area.

      Like

  17. Jessi says:

    Beautiful photos! The evening photo is truly amazing. 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thx for dropping by. Unlike you, I’m not a tropical beach-lying out the sun person. As a cyclist, I get more than plenty of sunshine. I need weather that’s bearable for long bike rides!

      Like

  18. Rita H. Azar says:

    Although I never been a huge winter fan, I always loved snow for Christmas time. I can’t feel it’s Christmas since I moved to Melbourne because it’s so hot. Two years ago, we had hail stones on Christmas day! I got very excited even though it lasted just for 5 minutes.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      “Two years ago, we had hail stones on Christmas day! I got very excited even though it lasted just for 5 minutes.”

      🙂 Rita, sure could appreciate the joy of even seeing white frozen stuff temporarily on Christmas Day. I’m not really a beach person pining away when it’s snowing lots in Canada long after Christmas. I like hot weather only if it’s not too humid and not unrelieved, no-tree glaring sun-heat. I just want it to be less icy and less slush…until March. We’ve have several waves of snow in Calgary in December which melts and then snows again. Past month has been unusually warm in Calgary past few weeks –meaning -5 to 8 degrees C. Now snow is returning..

      Like

  19. Sartenada says:

    Cool photos. Some could be from wintry Finland.

    Happy blogging!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thx for visiting. It’s summer here right now. 🙂 But yes, our winter temperatures maybe the same as Finland.

      Like

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