How Many Words Does Glen Brook Have For Snow?

Northern langues the world over are said to have an astonishing number of words for snow. Over the years, winter at Glen Brook has shown me that English could probably use a few more. Just this winter we have experienced the following:

Drifting Snow: Wind-driven powder has stacked a two foot drift against the laundry room door, while on the other side of the hill house the stoop is clear. Our hay fields have unfamiliar ripples and ridges where the drifts have formed temporary topography. One of the  A-frames has miniature drifts inside it, having found their way in through who-knows-what crack or crevice.

Crusty Snow: Partial thaw and refreeze has given us the most unsettling walking surface, one step the crust will hold your weight while the next will punch through, so that walking across the fields is like wearing a single platform heel, but never knowing which foot it’s on.

Ice-cream Snow: During their cooking rotation, the twelfth grade class could be seen, (some in t-shirts and slides) outside the kitchen door, packing hunks of snow and rock salt into our old hand-crank ice cream makers. As the old saying goes, “If you chop your own firewood you will be twice warmed,” and perhaps we can add, “If you make your own ice cream you will be twice chilled.”

Soggy Snow: Our recent thaw has turned what was light powder into something dense and sticky–one step removed from slush. Breaking trail on our sledding hills takes many runs and a lot of propelling oneself with the hands like a beached seal, but the result is a fast, packed track.

Promised Snow: Perhaps the best type of snow of all is the snow that hasn’t come yet. The forecast always seems to be optimistic, and we can imagine the untouched powder for skiing, the plowed heaps for digging tunnels in, the fresh animal prints for tracking through the forest to find the secret places where the deer and the fox go to sleep.


– Ellen Schmidt


Share Post