From right, Charlotte Marshall, Kelsie Pick, Shayla Pick and Aivery Marshall enjoy some sledding on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at Parksville Community Park. (Peter McCully photo)

From right, Charlotte Marshall, Kelsie Pick, Shayla Pick and Aivery Marshall enjoy some sledding on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at Parksville Community Park. (Peter McCully photo)

WOLF: Snow is great but only if it’s for playtime

Column: Always something special about a good snowfall

Take a look at those faces.

If you’re reading this online, simply scroll up a little. If you’re reading this in print, just look to your right.

See the smiles? The simple, pure joy?

That’s what snow should be all about.

I love snow, always have. But with one big condition, that being snow is only useful when you get to play in it.

If you have to drive in it with a bunch of white-knucklers with improper tires, not so much.

If you have to shovel it? Nope. (My preferred method of snow removal has long been ‘hope it rains the next day and melts it all’. Having a home with a short, flat driveway was an absolute must.

The worst is surely when it snows only enough to create sloppy grey slush on the roads.

But for me, there will always be something magical about a large snowfall.You’re immediately transported back to your childhood.

I remember the joy of huddling around the radio (kids, that was the dinosaur’s equivalent of checking the school district website), eagerly waiting to hear ‘Drinkwater Elementary’ on the list of school closures.

Within 12 seconds, you were snowpantsed up and out the door. Endless sledding and snowman building. Nose ran like a faucet but you didn’t care. You came in hours later, hung everything up by the fire (kids, that was where we put wood a fireplace or stove and burned it for heat or to cook pterodactyl meat), had some soup and then back out you went.

Even if school wasn’t cancelled, you could count on 300-student strong snowball fights at recess (kids, that was a darker time, when throwing spherical ice missiles at the heads of others wasn’t properly frowned upon like it is today).

Remember bumper shining? (Kids, that was when foolish people held onto the back of vehicles and were pulled along the icy roads. Don’t do this).

Even today, my favourite thing is the sound, or lack thereof. Early in the morning, the wonderful, enveloping silence as you walk out on to the untouched snow, with only the crunching beneath your boots, or the somehow amplified sound of your breath.

READ MORE: Winter storm watch snow warning issued for much of Vancouver Island

Every first snowfall, I smile as I remember building up the nerve as a young pre-teen, to call up a girl (kids, there was no texting, we had these things called landlines and we sometimes had to go through an embarrassing series of parental questions to speak to the object of our affection) to see if she wanted to go for a nighttime walk in the snow.

And then walking, hand-in-hand, not saying a word for a solid half-hour, just that familiar crunching sound beneath our feet serving as the unforgettable soundtrack of the moment.

Even as you grow up and have kids of your own, the snow means you can build snowmen and go sledding and make snow angels – and you’re having just as much fun as the young ones.

As a rule, I don’t like warm liquids. Coffee or tea? Nasty. But hot chocolate on a snow day? Nectar of the gods.

As a lifelong Islander, I also know our friends and colleagues from colder parts of the country are often amused by our reaction to snow.

Four minutes of light flakes and schools are closed, a dozen cars are in the ditch and the world comes to a halt.

The driving is the thing I don’t understand. Having successfully and easily navigated through blizzardsup the Malahat (heading north) in both an old Volare station wagon and a rear-wheel drive Camaro with its own improper tires, the parade of mishaps is always puzzling.

Mostly though, I still see the magic every time. I hope I never lose that sense of wonder. As I write this on a Saturday evening, there’s a decent chance the white stuff will be gone in a few days.

I hope it sticks around.

VI Free Daily/PQB News editor Philip Wolf can be reached via email at or on Twitter @philipwolf13.

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