Falling in love with snow / by Ekaterina Smirnova

I often meet people who tell me that they do not like snow and I am always surprised to hear that. To me, snow is something so beautiful and magical, so hard to describe. I understand, that large amounts of snow over long period of time might be very hard to handle. It causes various problems. It is especially hard for people who are forced to physically interact with snow: shovel it, clear off, dig out their cars... Snow always comes along with cold, one is impossible without another. Cold weather is not making things easier. But with all of those difficulties comes the beauty, purity and shine. I always wait patiently for the first snow of the winter. Will it snow today? Did I miss it at night? Oh, wait, here they come, so slow and lazy, one, another, many. They don't rush to land. The air becomes milky and objects start to disappear in a white, still translucent, fluff. While I was watching snowflakes fall, I did not notice, that a whole bunch is already covering the ground and other surfaces. Very fresh and crips veil is now covering everything around. Winter is putting on her delicate lacy lingerie. Then she slips on her undergarment, then a blouse, jacket, coat and her diamond jewelry as a final touch. 

 Ice Village on Lake Shikaribetsu, Japan

Ice Village on Lake Shikaribetsu, Japan

 I am measuring the ice level. 52 cm (20.5").

I am measuring the ice level. 52 cm (20.5").

Did you know that snow can sound different? When I landed to my hometown in Siberia, Russia, as soon as I stepped out of the airplane I noticed, that the sound under my feet was different from the sound I've heard in Hokkaido, Japan. Siberian snow that day sounded very bright, like a bell. The temperature that day was well below zero, so the snow was very hard and dry. Thousands of snowflakes were crushing under my weight and sound was traveling fast in a crisp air, resonating a cheerful bright music. Hokkaido snow was more moist, due to the higher temperature and increased moisture of Japan, so the sound was rather more dull like hitting a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon. Do you hear it? It's very rhythmical, matching the pace of the foot steps. 

Do you taste snow when no one is looking? I do! I especially like to eat if off fir-tree branches when available. The flavor of snow varies from place to place. For example in Hokkaido it taste synthetic, I explain it with the location – Hokkaido is an island in the middle of Pacific ocean, evaporated from the ocean water later turns into snow. Seawater is rich in magnesium and dissolved salts like Sodium and Chloride, in small parts it remains in snow, which effects the flavor. In Novosibirsk city, in the middle of Siberia, on the other hand, snow taste like Turkish dessert with nuts called Halva (щербет). There is no salty seawater anywhere around, even the closest ocean (Arctic) is fresh, so the flavor of snow is rather sweet.

Every time when I look at snow I observe something new. And there is no end to these observations. If one would want to argue, I will give a good example - each snowflake is unique, as documented by W. A. Bentley in his Dover Pictorial Archive. By the way, "Wilson Alwyn 'Snowflake' Bentley (February 9, 1865 – December 23, 1931) is one of the first known photographers of snowflakes. He perfected a process of catching flakes on black velvet in such a way that their images could be captured before they either melted or sublimated" (wiki).

I am of course not as good as Mr. Bentley photographing individual snowflakes, but I am trying my best to document snow in a large scale. During my two month travel in the subarctic climate areas of Canada, Siberia and Japan I've collected tons of photographs, videos and sound. I am starting to work on a series of books names "Frozen Waters", focusing on snow and ice in its different shapes and forms, on water or land, on fields or mountains, I will explore how human and animals interact with snow and I will observe the climate change. 

Lets think about our environment, consider what we are doing wrong and correct our mistakes while we can.

Fall in love with snow with me.