Snowfall Memories and Records: When Perceptions Become Reality

Watching and listening to the J-Man enjoy the many inches of snow we picked up this weekend, it wasn’t hard to drift back into some childhood snow memories of my own.

Alongside sled runs on Heartbreak Hill, ice fishing day trips and award-winning snow forts at elementary school, there’s a common thread in my memory, and that is snow banks. Absolutely huge, colossal snow mountains.

snow bank
When I think of winter “back in the day,” it’s the number one thing I recall, before anything else. And as I grew older it seemed the snow banks simultaneously grew smaller. Until at some point as a teenager I remember wondering whatever had happened to those huge snow banks I hadn’t played on in years.

During the snowstorm this weekend it was hard to avoid hearing about record-breaking snowfalls from past winters. As I considered some of those reports, I realized that a number of them took place in those very years when I would have been traipsing across the prairie in my snowsuit, building those snow forts, and simply marveling at all that cold powder.

This realization makes me feel a little better about things. Specifically, climate change. Those who know me know that I believe whole-heartedly in the fact that we live on a warming planet. And in pining for the snow banks of my childhood I would often curse the greenhouse effect, and feel saddened by a belief that my kids would never experience winter the way I had.

I don’t at all suggest this weekend’s storm means a warming climate is a falsehood. And I don’t intend to use this post to start an argument about climate change–which I would win. 😉

Instead I’m looking back at the weekend’s snowstorm memories being made and realizing that THESE are the ones J-Man is likely to remember. More so than the winters past–and surely coming–when there wasn’t or won’t be as much snow. It’s the memorable events we tend to remember. And it is our memories that, when collected together, forge our perceptions about the way things were. Those perceptions become the reality we hold so dear. Even when the weather data shows the reality was caused by a major snowstorm every few years, rather than inch upon inch falling every winter, every year.

Either way, there’s snow outside now. Happy shoveling, sledding, and memory-making.

(Flickr photo courtesy of monteregina and the Creative Commons.)


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