It has started snowing in Misawa. Yesterday, around eleven in the morning, the snow slowly began to fall. One flake. A couple of more flakes. The snow fell lightly at first, but soon the gentle, lackadaisical falling flakes become bigger, multiplied into the millions, and began to have an aggressive purpose: to smother the Japanese Earth in snow as deep and fast as possible. By late evening, a blanket of snow had covered everything in approximately six inches of fluffy powder. And then it stopped. No, it just took a pause for the cause and snowflakes quickly began to bombard the Earth again. The day before the snow, it was a sunny sixty degree day. I was driving with the window down! Fortunately for me, growing up in Kansas prepared me for extreme weather changes. In fact, I would say that growing up in Kansas was the perfect practice for living in Misawa. Let me attempt to explain.
The snow fell lightly at first, but soon the gentle, lackadaisical falling flakes become bigger, multiplied into the millions, and began to have an aggressive purpose: to smother the Japanese Earth in snow as deep and fast as possible.
A range of temperatures. Yesterday it was a comfortable 60 degrees, now it is around 32 degrees. A temperature swing of about 28 degrees. That is typical in Kansas…hot and humid one day, freezing with snow the next. Our place has a very adequate heating system, but the old jar of water is needed to add humidity to the dry heat. I can’t believe we actually want humidity now! When we arrived in Misawa, it was summer and it was hot and humid. Hot and humid is exactly how most people, including me, would describe a Kansas summer. And our little condo here does not have air conditioning! No problem, I grew up without air conditioning. Not by my choice! My mother did not want air conditioning in our farm house because she said it would make us all lazy and we would never go outside and do our chores or play in the sun. She stuck to her guns for a long time, but she eventually gave in and had my father install a couple of window units. But that was after I had graduated high school and moved away to attend university. My little brother was fortunate enough to relish in cool air indoors for his last couple of years of high school. Thanks mom! So to survive the hot Misawa summer that came with above 80% humidity, I merely had to go back to my childhood and utilize all those skills I learned for beating the heat: box fan in the bedroom, a box fan in a window or two sucking out the hot air in the day and pulling in the cool air at night, screen doors, and cool rags on my neck. I survived. I think, however, air conditioning is in my future for next summer!
Driving in the snow. Driving home from teaching in the snow on unplowed roads, I was reminded of the dirt roads back home. As I met a car going the other direction, I had to drift over as far as the narrow, unplowed road would allow to have enough space for the oncoming car to pass by without colliding. That scenario was played out almost everyday as I drove the dirt roads of Atchison County.
Overshoes. You gotta have them. The snow here in Misawa is heavy, wet, and will soak an ordinary shoe through socks to your bare feet! Snow in Kansas can be the same and on the farm, overshoes always cluttered our entry into the house. Our mudroom was littered with overshoes, coveralls, sweatshirts, socks, and hats. As I look at my small Japanese foyer now, I see overshoes, coats, and hats. A comforting sight indeed.
Comfort food. Kansas snow storms always required a serving of hot comfort food. The snowy comfort food here in Misawa is a hot bowl of ramen with a side of fried rice or gyoza and a hot cup of green tea. It tastes good and warms you up, but I miss the steaming hot chili or a grilled cheese sandwich with a big bowl of tomato soup and a hot chocolate my mom would serve up after an afternoon or evening out in the snow doing chores or building snow forts. I miss snow forts. As a kid, the winter months never disappointed in regard to snowfall. I could count on a few days of missed school for the ever awesome “Snow Day” (awesome until you found out those days had to be made up!). The accumulation would be in multiple inches and the snow drifts would be deep.
It does not seem to snow like that anymore, with an exception here or there or a powerful snowstorm dumps a load on a region. I don’t want to get political, but could it be the Earth is getting warmer? If it is, that is not the case here in Misawa. The amount of snow that has fallen harkens back to those cold Kansas winters when a foot of snow would fall. And it is still snowing! A lot! I think I’ll go build a snow fort!
© 2018 Gregory Vessar