Yesterday was the first snowfall of the season in Montreal and, as first snowfalls always do, it transformed the city. Car-owners and climate curmudgeons griped about the coming winter, but I rejoiced in the wondrous metamorphosis of the cityscape.
The most dramatic example of the transformation of a city by snowfall that I have ever witnessed was in Nanjing, China in January 2008. Although the city can get some snowfall every winter, that year saw the biggest snowstorms in China in over 50 years. Occurring as it did during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday, it resulted in travel chaos.
However, it also allowed me to the see the city I had been living in for 5 years with completely new, snow-blinded eyes. Nanjing, known as one of the four ovens of China, is always a city that I will associate with suffocating heat, so to walk around it in all its snow-covered winter glory was quite a rare treat.