Saturday, 7 February 2015


"Snomesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from snow, while living abroad." - the Orange Canadian Dictionary*

Many travellers, students, expats, and others who spend a significant amount of time away from home often suffer from bouts of something called "homesickness." During these times, the individual longs for their home, be it a physical, emotional, or other aspect. As someone who is currently living away from home, I have been surprised by the lack of homesickness I have experienced. In fact, (sorry folks back home!) I don't really think about home at all. 

When my Mom died, a lot changed. It changed how I lived my life, how I saw myself, and so many other things - most of which I'm fairly certain I'm not even aware of! Most of the immediate changes were physical, easily visible ones - the hardest being packing up my childhood home and leaving for the last time. We don't think about how something like that will affect us. Growing up, and even throughout the part of my adulthood which lead to that moment, it was taken for granted that my 'home' would always be there. So, when we unexpectantly found ourselves in this situation, my brother and I, along with some wonderful family friends came together, with coffee, snacks, and at times some good tunes, to do the unthinkable. And we did. We laughed. We shared many tears. But at the end of the day, we got 'the job done.' It may seem like I'm getting off topic, but this moment when the truck was packed, and it came down to those final minutes to look around one last time before closing the door and saying goodbye to the one constant in my life, it changed everything. 

The weeks and months that followed Mom's death left me in an awful unsettled state, where I didn't quite know where to go. I had trouble staying in one spot for too long. I bounced back and forth between my apartment, my brother's, and my grandmother's. No where felt right for any amount of time. It seemed like regardless of where I was, I felt like a guest - and I still do, but to a lesser extent. When I left for Ghana, I was set to leave for the longest period of time that I have ever been away from 'home.' I missed people, but not the place. The same thing happened when I moved to Manchester to begin my studies. I'm now in the beginning months of what will be the new longest time away from home - nine months. Part of this lack of missing home, I believe, stems from the fact that I still, almost two years later, haven't identified what 'home' is now. How can you miss something that isn't there? I struggled with this while home over the holidays, because almost everyone asked if I missed home while I was away. And, given the fact that I've inherited my mother's inability to pretend, I had a hard time 'pretending' that I did. 

As January turned into the beginning of February, Nova Scotia took on it's usual snowy madness. Facebook declared anticipation of big storms, announcements of school cancellations and messy road conditions. Phone conversations with family members reiterated each of these things. At first, I shrugged off, and smiled as I looked out my window to see the beautiful +12°C sunshine. It's now entering the second full week of February, and I have to admit, I'm jealous. I miss the snow. I miss the snow like most people miss 'home.' And, yes, snow is a part of home, it's not snow at home that I miss, but having it snow and stay. I've seen plenty of snow in Manchester, but it's like Mother Nature took a magic marker and removed it before anyone had the chance to go out and play. 

This past week, the 'Scotia has been hit pretty hard. Several storms have dumped tens of centimetres on the ground, creating terrible conditions for anyone needing to leave the house. I certainly don't miss that aspect, but I miss grabbing a nice warm blanket, and a hot cup of tea, and sitting near a window, watching those delicate little flakes fall softly to the ground, all while reading a good book...or painfully dry journal articles. There's a certain comfort that comes from that scenario...being safely tucked in the warmth, away from the harsh, but beautiful outdoors. So, it was amazing when one morning I woke up to several pictures of the recent storms. That's when I realized I had come down with a mean case of snomesickness. 

Halifax, during one of the many recent storms
(Photo credit: Matthew Hughson)
Camp Hill Cemetery, Halifax
(Photo credit: Matthew Hughson)
(Photo credit: Suzanne Lamb)
Even though these pictures can only fill part of that longing to see a really good snowfall, it's enough to get me through. I mean, after all, I can see snow from my window...if I look really hard, and use my super creepy, extra-zoom lens! 

View from my room...if you look really close, you can see snow covered hills in the distance.
Using uber creepy, super-zoom - that's my current snow situation!

-the Orange Canadian

*Note: The 'the Orange Canadian Dictionary' is not a real thing. 'Snomesickness' is a word I made up to describe my longing to see snow.

1 comment:

  1. I love your pieces Emily, well written. Who wouldn't miss sitting by the window watching such beautiful views?