Snow fun at all!

By - December 1, 2005 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

To everyone in Belgium who doesn’t like winter, I apologize for the snow and I take full responsibility for it.

The snow is all my fault. I shouldn’t have shot my mouth off about moving to a ‘nicer’ climate. But I really hate winter. I hate snow. I hate the short, grey, depressing days. And I really, really hate to be cold.

The winters in Nova Scotia can be erratic at best. Because it’s a coastal province, it’s usually much milder than other parts of Canada. However, there can be the occasional massive snowfall. Last year was one such occasion.

The first snowfall of the year was a big one. Some 45cm of snow fell overnight. The weight of the snow was too much for our carport and sent it crashing down on top of our car. I vowed then and there to get far away from snow. It’s been stalking me ever since.

The year prior to the carport incident, we spent winter in Amsterdam. The one snowfall of the season was a powdered sugar sprinkling that barely covered all of the grass. Nobody went to work that day.

Of course, when you tell a Belgian you’re from Canada, the first thing they ask you about is the snow. As we tell the carport story, their eyes get wide and their jaw starts to droop.

“Oh we don’t get anything like that here,” says our neighbour. “In fact, we haven’t had any snow in three years.”

“At last I will be free from the snow,” I think.

I imagine a green Christmas and walking to the store in January without being bundled up like an Eskimo. No more sore arm muscles from shoveling the driveway. No more sore legs from trudging through the snow. I prematurely thank the Belgian weather gods.

“The canals only freeze here every eight years or so,” says our friend in Amsterdam.

“Really? When was the last time that happened?”

“Uh, seven years ago, I think,” he replies.

Then the Belgian news media begins to predict the worst winter on record for 50 years. I’m beginning to see the writing in the snow.

When you grow up in Canada, snow is just one of those things you learn to live with.

Everyone owns a wide assortment of shovels (for the different kinds of snow) and sometime in late October you put snow tires on the car and stock your trunk with the essentials: a shovel, an ice scraper, a bag of sand, jumper cables, lock deicer and a warm blanket.

Kids wait by the radio on snowy mornings to see if school will be canceled, but unless it is a major whiteout, they are out waiting for the buses as usual.

After the snowfall, the plows are out in full force … as soon as you’ve finished shoveling your driveway.

People basically just get on with their lives as usual.

Snow in Brussels pretty much catches everyone off guard. People don’t like to drive in it. There are few snowplows and most people don’t own winter tires.

When we moved to Belgium, we didn’t bring much in the way of snow gear. We have our winter jackets and some gloves, but we certainly didn’t think we’d need things like snow boots and we didn’t run out and buy shovels.

Now I know better. Where I go, the snow shall certainly follow.

I’m sorry Belgium — maybe next time I’ll try Greece.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 22 hours ago


  1. Comment by Andrew

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Andrew December 1, 2005 at 19:58

    Wine??? We’re going to get a keg with a double tap with one half vodka and the other half single malt scotch! That’ll keep us warm! 🙂

  2. Comment by Shannon

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Shannon December 1, 2005 at 19:40

    Well, I’m dying to see Europe in white! I hope it dumps all over the place as soon as I get there.
    The story goes like this:It snows, and I throw on my eskimo suit, and just as I think I’ll hop on the bus, and head to the grand Place (b/c I think it would be such a sight!), I’ll realize that there is no public transportation running, and I’ll be sad…. then.. AHA! I run back to my apartment, and call Alison, Andrew and Caesar, and I invite them to play in the snow. They come and get me and Gabriel, and off we go in search of a snowy adventure!… wait, but, before we go, we fill Caesar’s mini keg with red wine, incase we get thirsty… : )

  3. Comment by shannon

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    shannon December 2, 2005 at 01:52

    Ok, I’ll admit you have a point there…

  4. Comment by Di

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Di December 2, 2005 at 08:33

    Bad Alison … but so glad I am, I thought I was the bringer of winter woes. Two years in Istanbul, 4 snowfalls, mostly with a depth of 1-2 feet …
    It was carnage over there on the roads, and in the homes, with no power or water more often than not on those white winter days, however I was a teacher, it was school holidaysssssssssss – hooray.
    Anyway, back to my point … bad Alison, bringing a dirty ol rotten winter to Belgium!!!

  5. Comment by Alison

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Alison December 4, 2005 at 16:20

    Ok Gabe… Between your weather woes, my stalker snow and Di making it snow in Istanbul… I think we’ve created a vortex of weather doom… Hunker down Belgium, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

  6. Comment by 23

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    23 December 4, 2005 at 12:30

    I’m not so sure that this is only Alison’s fault.
    Being from sunny Arizona, I’ve only known extremes when I’ve moved someplace. Let’s do the list, shall we?
    1) From AZ to Wisconsin in June 2000. Result – worst summertime flooding in ten years, lakes flooded out homes and a week of torrential rain that left locals dazed and the corn rotting in puddles. The winter of that year didn’t get any better. It was the coldest in ten years and so much snow fell that even the “sconies” (born and bred Wis. residents) complained that the snow was from another time, when three to four feet of snow was usual PER STORM (that’s about 1 to 1.3 meters per event!).
    2) WI to NYC in summer of 2002. Result – heat wave lasting a week and half. 100 degree temperatures in the City broke records. Winter was the most brutal since the 1994 “noreaster” disrupted the City so badly there wasn’t trash pick-up for a week and a half. The snow was so bad, in 2002-2003, that the President’s day weekend ended in a three foot blizzard and shut the City down on the holiday and the subway didn’t run correctly for three days.
    So, Alison, if it’s any consolation, I’m helping here! Remember this year’s rainy summer? The flooding in Brussels this July and August? The early snowfall that crippled the country is only the beginning… whaahaaahaaa…

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