The Gift of Snow

The first (albeit slushy) flake of the season fell today. Winter has always been a time of year filled with joy for my husband and I. This love of snowbanks piled high and long, shushy springs brought us, and our U-haul full of stuff, to a ski town last fall.

We moved at the same time as a wave of seasonal employees from Australia and Europe, but when asked if we had moved just for the season, our reply was that we had chosen this as our lifelong home. The adrenaline we felt on a ski holiday never finally didn’t have to end. Before we had children, we knew this was the life we wanted to give them. That no amount of convenience or high-paying work in larger cities could replace the giddiness one experiences after spending the day playing in the snow.

Today, our daughter felt her first snowflake hit her face. While this may seem like a trivial, fleeting moment to many, this snapshot in time embodied everything I want for my children. My love of the first snow was made that much greater today by getting to experience it through new eyes with my daughter. She will soon get to discover the joy of making snowmen. Of tediously filling milk jugs cut in half with water and freezing them for one’s personal backyard igloo. And, in years to come, feeling as though her heart will fall out of her chest as she watches the freezing line come down the mountain, gets word that opening day has been set at the ski resort, and experiences her first powder day—when the world beneath you glides away like walking on water.

For us, no amount of “stuff” can replace this feeling. Very few toys stand out as memorable for me as a child, but my first trip to the mountains is one of my earliest, and most treasured memories. I remember driving towards Banff and seeing the first hazy outline that resembled the giant, jagged rocks were heading toward. Asking my parents repeatedly if indeed those were “the mountains”. As we got closer, my excitement continued to bubble over as the distant masses grew into breathtaking views that seemed unfathomably huge. On my first hike, I vividly recall dragging my tired little legs (and needing to be relieved with several piggy-back rides) for what seemed like an eternity. All this fuelled by not knowing what was at the top of Sulphur Mountain. This feeling hasn’t gone away. It’s been a year of living steps from the base of a mountain and I still experience that same anticipation every time I step out the door.

When we moved from Vancouver to settle in a town with a population well under 10,000, I wondered whether the sacrifices would be worth it. Whether leaving the security of our jobs, our great group of friends and the Lower Mainland’s amazing transit system would be things I would miss. I valued these things, and continue to see value in them, but I don’t miss them. I don’t miss them because the joy in knowing my child will grow up with snowbanks that tower over her head and mountains out her front door is completely irreplaceable.

Hilary Hoogsteen

Hilary Hoogsteen

Hilary Hoogsteen is a new Mom, currently on maternity leave from her job in Marketing and Social Media. She takes full advantage of BC's natural playground, spending those dreaded winter months on her snowboard and the summer on the beach.