Playing in the snow

We woke up this morning to our first snowfall in Vienna of any real significance.  By the time Benjamin got up, there was more than a dusting on the rooftops, and our terrace, which is pretty sheltered, but not enclosed, almost had a covering.  Our rosemary, basil and cilantro plants (or rather, the pots the plants lived in when it was summer) had about an inch in each, as did the table where they sit.

Benjamin was thrilled.  He wanted to make a snowman.  So, after he was dressed for school, boots and all, he and I went out onto the terrace to make a (very small) snowman on our table.  He insisted we give it a “beak” (nose) and arms (we used dried basil and rosemary stalks), but he really wanted the eyes to be made of snow, so they were a bit hard to see.  Given what we had to work with, it was a pretty good snowman.  Liam and I cuddled up in the living room and Dan and Benjamin headed off to work and school.

The snow fell all morning, but the temperature was just at the freezing mark, where sometimes the snow accumulates on what it lands on, and sometimes it seems to turn to water and melt what’s there.  When Benjamin got home, he checked on our snowman, which had fallen over (I went out and fixed it) and he told me all about the snowman he had made at school.

At first, I thought he and Dan had made a snowman on the way home from school.  But, no, he and his classmates made the snowman while they played outside in the garden.  It was surprising to me that the kids went outside to play in the wet, cold, slippery snow — I don’t know whether that’s typical at home.  I’m very glad I bundled him up in his big coat, warmest hat and snow boots this morning, but I’m even more glad that they did go outside to play in the snow.  What a great, fun opportunity to take — to go out and frolic in the snow when you’re 3 years old, with your 3 and 4 year old friends, and to build a big snowman, all together.

I was a little sad, this morning, that I didn’t get to keep B home today to have a snow day.  I was really hoping that his friends at school, and his teachers, would be as excited that it was snowing as he was.  It sounds like they were.  And I’m so glad I didn’t keep him home with Liam and I today (we didn’t do anything exciting) — I wouldn’t have wanted him to miss his chance to play in the snow with his friends, and build a big snowman, with a carrot for a nose and everything.

First snow in Vienna

Walking to pick Benjamin up from school today, I got to experience my first snow in Vienna.  It wasn’t much — just enough to put a thin coating on the grassy areas and fallen leaves, but I got excited anyway.  I love the snow.  I love how it covers everything over with a sparkling white blanket, making even familiar landscapes magical.  I love how sounds change when there’s snow on the ground, or when it’s falling — everything is a little more quiet.  And I guess I still associate snow with getting to have an unexpected break in my normal routine — even though I haven’t had a real “snow day” in years, I tend to treat very snowy days a little differently, as days to play more than I work, to drink hot chocolate and read a book, to not worry about whether everything gets done.

People seem to think of Vienna as a snowy city, but it’s really not.  Vienna is a pretty dry place, compared to where I come from (even in the winter).  I guess it’s the image of Alpine Austria that puts everyone in that mindset.  It’s certainly cold enough for snow here (I think we’ve been a few days in a row now without going above freezing).  As I understand it, Vienna is cold all winter, with regular, but pretty small, snowfalls.  We actually get about half the winter precipitation here that got at home (but more “wet days”, so it’s just spread out more).

When I got to the school and met Benjamin in his classroom, he took me over to the glass doors so he could show me that it was snowing outside.  He was so excited.  We went outside, and he immediately bent down and started scooping snow out of a leaf to make a snowman.  When I explained that we’d need a little more snow for that, he put the snow in his mouth so he could “catch it on his tongue”.  I also explained that it’d probably be better to actually catch them from the air, instead of eating them off of a leaf.

It snowed on and off all day, and we found ourselves out in it several times.  Benjamin was equally enthusiastic each time.  I’m as excited as he is, and I’m having a lot of fun watching him enjoy it.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a lot of snow this year in Vienna . . . especially between now and Christmas!