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By Melanie Schoo

It feels a little strange to be writing about snow, when I’m sitting inside an air-conditioned office, looking out on a beautiful 30-degree summer day. 

I grew up familiar with proper northern hemisphere snow, thanks to pop culture.  Like many Australian children, I spent Christmas Eve lying in front of an air conditioner, eating icy poles whilst earnest children on TV hoped for a white Christmas. Snow was presented as a magical type of meteorological valium, it made everything better. 

Snow is cold, wet, slippery and dangerous. The upstanding young women of The Babysitters Club were snowed in on at least two occasions. Snow is not to be trusted.

Snow and I are not friends.  Logic tells me that if I have trouble staying upright on flat concrete, I really shouldn’t strap planks of wood to my feet and attempt to slide down an icy mountain.  This is a hill I am happy to die on.

I’ve only been to “The Snow” (used to describe any ski resort in Australia, much like “The Beach” means any of the eleven million ocean-adjacent parcels of sand) once.  It did not go well.

I was in my early twenties and working for a very small, boutique firm. In order to motivate staff (and, possibly claim personal travel as a work expense) the heads of the business announced that if we exceeded certain targets, we would receive an all-expenses paid weekend trip to the snow.  From beginning to end, it was a very troubling experience.

First of all, I had nothing to wear.  One of the many challenges and ridiculous things about snow is the requirement for so much stuff that you have to store in your house for 350 days a year (hundreds of kilometers away from the snow) and then transport so that you can enjoy squelching around in wet nylon.  It’s expensive, a logistical nightmare and unflattering. I can look puffy all by myself without spending hundreds of dollars, thank you. I have a very good, and otherwise rational friend, who is unreasonably fond of snow.  Every winter we have very vigorous discussions about whether it’s appropriate for her to wear ski pants to a restaurant (it’s not).

Second of all, alcohol. When we arrived at the resort, we went straight to the bar.  Memories of what happened next are a little fuzzy because I believe that, in a show of corporate bonding and camaraderie, we decided to drink all of the things.  Especially something called a Jägerbomb, which has a description and a health warning on its Wikipedia page.

Third and Fourth of all, the side effects of alcohol.  When I had finished drinking all of the alcohol, I made my way back to my cabin.  This was very difficult.  It was dark, slippery and I had no idea where I was going.  When I did finally find my way home, I managed to immediately drop my key into a long drain under the snow grates at the door.  I had to press the doorbell desperately until a very unhappy caretaker materialized to let me in and fish my key out with a long hook on a stick, which was kept conveniently by the door. I returned to my bed and have no further memory.

The next day, it quickly became apparent that I was dying.  I don’t know if I have ever been sicker. I dismissed the copious amounts of alcohol and blamed the altitude.  I looked around for my phone to contact a colleague and beg for assistance, but realized that in my enthusiasm the night before, I had misplaced my phone.  I carried on with my dying and after a few hours, managed to have a shower.  I looked in the mirror; it wasn’t a pleasing sight.  Due, no doubt to the altitude sickness that I was experiencing, my eyes were bloodshot (I’d also forgotten to remove my contact lenses).

When I finally managed to carefully dress myself and head out in search of food, medical assistance and to track down my colleagues, I was run over by a snowboarder.  At that point, I realized the universe was sending me a fairly clear message about my compatibility with snow and retired to the lodge to drink soothing beverages and watch the first-aid team whiz up and down the mountain to retrieve all the injured people (there were many).

Since that fateful weekend over 15 years ago, I’ve kept my respectful distance from snow and resisted all efforts from my friends to join them in their maddening love of frozen death sticks.  I have not applied similar caution around excessive consumption of alcohol.  Some lessons take longer to learn.

Speaking of lessons, I have a habit of giving up on things that I’m not good at, or don’t enjoy immediately (except for alcohol).  Although it’s kept me mostly intact, I think I’ve limited myself in terms of exploring new opportunities and building resilience when I suck at something.  In the interest of being a more balanced human, I’m currently making a proper effort to step outside my comfort zone and try new things that I’ve never considered before.  I’m not quite ready for anything related to vast quantities of frozen water and death sports, but you can follow along and make suggestions at:

Melanie is a communications professional who has worked in the not-for-profit sector for more than 15 years. A reformed social media addict, she has been condemned, attacked, and blocked by most right-wing tabloid journalists for being a “rabid leftie feminist social justice warrior”. She has a pair of 24-year-old Doc Martens, a fondness for Harry Potter and some very spoilt pet poodles. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.


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1 Comment

  1. tim

    Skiing seems like a terrible way to get down from a mountain. On the other hand drinking is always in style.


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