Thursday, February 2, 2012

Being thankful

You've heard me complain recently about the cold. Every year, we drop below -10 C and stuff that was never meant to freeze, freezes. What gets me through the winter? The knowledge that no matter where you are in Japan, the weather sucks at some point in time. So when the "Southerners" are dealing with 40 degrees C (100s F) and 80 % humidity, the weather is less miserable up here in the frozen North. There's usually only 1 unbearable week for me. Whereas my friends who aren't suffering so badly right now, have months of "I showered 47 seconds ago, why am I covered in sweat?"

I've also taken to being generally amused by winter. Apart from the washing machine/ frozen kitchen lake incident, I laugh off whatever winter throws my way. So this morning when I found snow on the INSIDE of my front door, and one of my teachers said "Oh, yeah it was really windy," I laughed that off. (There are so many things in Japan, that could only exist in Japan. If everybody had doors like this in most other countries, thieves would make a killing!)

When I was leaving home, I struggled to open my door, because two feet of snow had fallen overnight. I laughed that off, too. Normally, I shovel any snow I see right away. If I don't, then the old man opposite my neighbour will shovel it. And then the old lady opposite me, will lay a guilt trip on me for "making" an old man shovel my walkway. But today, I had to hurry since Thursday is the mountain school, the only school that requires me to take a bus, and therefore be at a bus stop at a particular time. (Of course, when I got home, my walkway had been shovelled- presumably by the old man.)

In the country, Japanese roads don't have sidewalks. There's a painted white line that says, this is the edge of the road, and people are meant to walk inside that line. Needless to say, there was no white line today. Even though the entire neighbourhood (minus me) was outside shovelling the road, there was nowhere for me to walk but in the middle of it. When I got to the traffic light, I stood behind a car. I couldn't walk on the inside of it, because of snow, and I couldn't walk around it, because of oncoming cars. I laughed that off too.

The bus was late. You probably don't understand what that means, but you could set your watch by Japan's transportation system. Every bus stop has a time listed on it, and the bus will get there at that time. Not before. Not after. If the bus is early, they drive slower, to lose the time, before they reach the bus stop. And today, the bus was 15 minutes late. I laughed that off.

As, I boarded the bus, I thought, today is crazy. Iwate prefecture's side of the mountains (The Pacific Ocean side) is colder, but less snowy. The Akita prefecture (Japan Sea) side is snowier, but usually not as cold. In fact, the coldest place on Honshu (main island of the Japanese archipelago) is in Iwate. Weird, because we are not the northernmost prefecture. Anyhow, I jokingly made a mental memo to the snow.

Dear Snow,

You're on the wrong side of the mountains. I mean what were you thinking, 2 feet in Iwate?

Wading through it,

And then I saw the news tonight. In Akita, on the other side of my mountains, there was 5 FEET OF SNOW overnight, AND AN AVALANCHE which killed 3 people.

How's that for perspective? Tonight, I'm sending condolences to those families. And I being thankful for the crazy ice palace that I live in. The snow is always whiter on the other side of the mountains, but you can never truly know the disadvantages of all the bad things that didn't come your way.

1 comment:

Liza said...

This post really made me think...and laugh too, for the guilt trip. Hope you warm up soon.