First Snow

I woke up to a text from Sabina on Friday that said, "Doesn't this weather make you miss California?"
I texted back to the affirmative. The past couple days had been quite cold and dark, and although I'd fought off admitting how cold I was, that week had finally gotten to me. I got out of bed and went to the window to take a look at the day.


*view from my window

It was a white world. Snowfall had come overnight and blanketed the scene. I was in shock. I'd never experienced such a drastic change in the same setting from one day to the next (although of course I've been in snow a couple times a year most of my life for ski weekends, this is different. It came to me, not the reverse. And I live here. ) And the big flakes were still coming down. I was torn between frenzied excitement at the novelty and beauty of it and my deep set fears of this kind of weather. "I can't believe it! How can I dress for it? How can I bike through it? Will my shoes work for this? Just how cold is it? IT'S ONLY NOVEMBER. Winter doesn't even start for another month, officially. Crap."

I set out for school on my bike. The slushy icy ground was not welcoming, and I had to methodically and carefully pedal forward... no more biking like a bat out of hell as this weather sets in, I sorrowfully realized. The wet flakes hit my face and soaked into my leggings and dampened my hair. I arrived to the student union office for my meeting in a bit of a defeated state.

Then I met up with several other Swedes. And what I heard from them next I continued to hear all weekend from most every Swede I encountered.

"Can you believe this weather? You can't dress for this, I'm freezing and wet! Biking here was a disaster! My shoes are too thin, I don't have any good ones for this slushy nonsense! And it's supposed to get colder this week! It's only November, just imagine February!"

I was baffled. Everyone was practically on the same page as me, only I was the real amateur. No one seemed prepared, so many seemed indignant, and most wore expressions of amazement and a bit of fear when speaking about the upcoming months. And then when I brought up this phenomenon to further groups of Swedish friends, they all acknowledged this as well. "Yes, we are always surprised by our weather and never seem to be prepared. It's like we have short term memory loss. Once summer hits we're too optimistic that we'll never have to fight through a meter of snow on the ground to get to school again. Our boots that wore out last winter go unreplaced until we're desperate- either that or we just wear improper shoes and freeze, never thinking it will get as bad as it inevitably does."

Okay then. The weather is an enigma to everyone, not just me. Even though the next couple days required a bit of mental readjusting to what a cold weather life entails, and a bit of feeling sorry for my pansy beachtown sheltered self as snow would continue to hit my face and numb my gloved fingers on my bike rides to and fro... I actually feel like I'm not handling this alone. I might be new to it but it's not easy for anyone, and we're facing this weather together. And my friends here brave this every year, and still mostly love living here. There's fewer things I've ever been more afraid of than the Swedish winter. But I think I'm gonna make it.

And you know what...the snow is gone now, but I'm a little bit looking forward to when it comes back. It really is beautiful. There will be a high of -5 degrees celsius this weekend... so I guess I better watch out.


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