The Sensation of Snow

How I experience snow

I was three years old when I had skis on my feet for the first time. I grew up with snow in Finland and if I spend a winter somewhere else than in the north, I do miss the snow. It’s towards the end of October and the snow has just arrived to Alta – and I could not be happier. This essay is on how I and one interviewee experience snow, and how the experiences are connected to Heimtun’s (2015) affective images on winter.

The way I experience snow most of the time is through joy. It gives many opportunities to play outside; skiing, snowboarding, skating, sledding, building snowmen, and so on. The air feels clean and fresh and it’s easy to breathe. I identify myself as a “winter person”, as Heimtun (2015) describes in her article “Tourists’ Affective Perceptions of a Cold Destination: Feelings Toward Northern Norway in the Winter”. The winter people have positive feelings about the winter and what comes with it. In this instance, especially the snow and activities related to that.

For me the slowly falling snow is gorgeous. When you stand outside during a snowfall and stay silent, you can hear the snowflakes dropping on your jacket. Then when you move around, you can hear the snow creaking under your feet (sound record). It is always a reminder of home.

Occasionally you can see the clear shapes of the snowflake and if you love small details as I do, you can spend a lot of time on examining all the unique snowflakes. I find the more snow the better. It is a beautiful sight when everything gets frosted with snow. The mountains, the streets, the trees. It’s also about the small things that make me glad; the prints of paws on my porch reveals that the neighbour’s cat has paid a visit. The snow also gives plenty of light. The evenings and early mornings don’t feel as dark because the snow reflects the light.

I interviewed Yannick about how he experiences snow. Yannick did not grow up with snow in Germany. Sometimes during the winter it snowed there but it did not stay on the ground. He says it is a positive thing that the snow has arrived and he is happy about the light it gives: “I’m glad the snow is not black. That would make it very depressing in the winter”. One thing he found to be a pity though. He likes driving his bicycle and he finds it too dangerous to continue now because of the possibility to slip and fall. Heimtun (2015) also described two other affective images, the “summer people” and “ambivalent people”. The summer people see the winter more in a negative way. They focus on the aspects that it is too cold, dark and dangerous as an example. The ambivalent people were somewhere in between the previous two. They found the winter is pleasing to some extent but they are not so excited about every aspect of it. I would suggest that Yannick could be identified as an “ambivalent person”. He was saying similar things about the light as an interviewed German woman in the Heimtun’s (2015) article. She described how the darkness and snow creates a special atmosphere and light, and that it makes her feel secure. Yannick also saw some aspects of the snow and winter to be dangerous, similar to the “summer people”.

It is of course given that different people have different experiences with snow. For me, because I grew up with snow and found the joy of it at an early age, it is easy to enjoy and appreciate it now. Which I full heartedly recommend – especially if you live in a place where the snow comes already in October!