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Along with thousands of students across Chicagoland, Geneva school children woke to their first snow day on November 26. For them, the news of a school closure was probably the best they’ve had all season. For parents, maybe not so much, particularly those who work. Going about one’s business during a blizzard and its aftermath renders snow one of the foulest four-letter words.
Even on days when school isn’t canceled, sending the kiddies out to the bus stop on an icy, snow-blown day feels just shy of cruel. Digging out last year’s ill-fitting snow pants and boots is a challenge, too, especially when Johnny comes home with someone else’s identical black coveralls.
For many older adults, however, the first serious snow of the season inspires memories of childhood. It’s a rare youngster who can look upon a crystalline mantle of white without a sense of excitement and awe. Free of work obligations, retirees can experience a renewed appreciation of snow without the onus of wrangling with it. That goes double for those who are enjoying community senior living.
Let’s take a look at snow, literally. An old adage says that no two snowflakes are alike. That seems impossible, and it may be. New research suggests that smaller crystals that fall before they fully develop are similar enough that any differences cannot be detected under a microscope.
However, lest the amazement of the snowflake theory be debunked, scientists concede that “it is probably safe to say that the possible number of different snow crystal shapes exceeds the estimated number of atoms in the known universe.” That’s still pretty wow-worthy.
Though in some parts it can seem like all the snow in the world has landed in one’s own backyard, the truth is that the number of cubic feet of snow that falls to earth every year is about a million billion. As for individual flakes annually, that comes to roughly 1 followed by 24 zeroes.
Japan leads the world in the most snowfall each year, followed by Canada. In the U.S., the New York cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, respectively, are among the top 10 snowiest places in the world. For those looking to escape or almost never see snow, they should go to Rome, Miami, the Sahara Desert, Sydney, Baghdad, Lisbon, Malibu, Las Vegas, Buenos Aires, San Diego, Hawaii, or New Orleans.
Here in Geneva, the average annual snowfall is about 30 inches. While that’s nothing compared to Aomori City in Japan’s 312 inches, it’s enough to guarantee piles of winter fun. Langum Park in nearby St. Charles has an ice rink and one of the best sledding hills in Chicagoland. As seen in this video of residents from GreenFields and our sister community Friendship Village of Schaumburg snow tubing at Villa Olivia in Bartlett, age is no barrier to fun in the snow.
GreenFields residents have breathtaking views of the snow-covered Tanna Farms golf course, but they’re not staying in by the fire all winter. This year, they’ll be going to Kuipers Family Farm for cider donuts and warm beverages as well as various destinations to see holiday lights.
“We have everything from Christmas Karaoke, Christmas Trivia and a White Elephant Gift Exchange to fitness events like the Santa Shuffle, Reindeer Games and the Walking Caroling Club,” said Emily Abrahamson, GreenFields’ life enrichment coordinator. In January, residents will recuperate from the “Holidaze” with a meditation class and an ikebana demonstration.
Even as it’s melting, slushing, getting pock-marked, mud-flicked, and causing general havoc, let us remember the special magic of those first sparkling flakes. And maybe even be a little grateful that snow comes around these parts.