It started snowing last night, a thick, wet snow that had us worried. Sure enough, when we woke up this morning, this was what awaited us outside.
It’s not much in terms of accumulation—maybe a centimeter—but it’s a crusty snow. In other words, it was wet enough that when it hit the ground it melted just a tiny bit before freezing again, leaving everything encased in a lovely crust of snow.
At least it would have been lovely if all we had to do was look at it. Hyunjin was worried about being able to drive on it, so I told her I would drive her to the bus depot. Before I could actually drive the car, though, I had to hack through that lovely crust of snow. Talk about a morning workout. I had the defroster on as high as it would go, which did make things easier when the car finally warmed up, but it was still tough going. I had to wipe the windshield down as well because there was no way I was going to be able to break the wipers out of the ice.
For those who may not know, we don’t live on a main road. We live a couple kilometers down a narrow country road in a mountain valley. To make matters worse, the road has been under construction since May. They were supposed to finish it by the end of October, but they’re running late, and now the snow has come. Fortunately they were able to smooth out almost all of the road by yesterday, but it’s still dirt and gravel, and snow doesn’t melt nearly as well on dirt and gravel as it does on asphalt or cement. Instead, it gets compacted into a lovely sheet of ice. So the drive to the bus depot was fun, to say the least.
The temperature is supposed to get up to six degrees today, which should be enough for at least the snow on the road to melt. Unfortunately, it’s supposed to snow again tonight and tomorrow night as well. It will probably warm up enough during the day to melt, but the roads are going to be a mess in the morning. It’s not the earliest snow we’ve ever had, but it is earlier than last year. And first snows are usually rather tame, with little to no accumulation and few problems on the roads, but it looks like winter is getting a head start on us this year.
The record for earliest snow I’ve ever experienced would have to be early October (I believe it was the 4th). I don’t remember what year it was, but I was young, and it was long before I moved to Korea. It was a Sunday morning, and a freak snowstorm came in and dumped a good amount of snow on the ground. It wouldn’t have been so devastating had it fallen in December, but with the leaves still on the trees it was a disaster. The weight of the snow knocked down huge branches, which in turn knocked out power lines and blocked roads. And yet somehow we still made it to church that morning. I’ve never seen anything like that since then—I can’t imagine what it would be like here if snow fell in early October.
Late November is soon enough for me—a bit too soon, truth be told. Winter is my least favorite season in Korea, mainly because it’s so hard to get around when it snows, especially where we live. With any luck, though, this will be our last winter here. Next year we’re planning on moving back to Seoul. This depends on a number of factors, but I doubt very much we could survive another winter in this neighborhood. Not when Hyunjin has to travel two hours each way to work (and this is in good weather, of course). So when the snows come this winter and I find myself outside early in the morning shoveling the road and hacking through the ice on the car, I’ll just keep telling myself that this is the last winter. Whatever it takes to get through it.