First Snow

There had been a forecast for snow on Monday for a few days, but every time I looked at the weather predictions, it seemed like it would be mostly rain, with just a few hours just barely edging into snow. I hadn’t changed my car over to my winter tires yet, but I figured if it snowed then rained right after, I would be fine driving to and from work.

snow feet

I was wrong! Right after I got to work on Monday, it started to snow… and kept going… and kept snowing…

By when it was time for me to go home, I had given up on the idea of driving home on my summer tires- I wasn’t sure if I could make it out of the parking lot.

snow car

 

So, I hitched a ride home with another teacher who had been more prepared than I was, and had a lovely walk to school the next morning.

snow walk 1

snow walk 2

This was an early snow, for sure, and now all that remains is a few piles lingering in the shadows.

remaining snow

But it snowed again yesterday, and lingered part of the day, so I’m optimistic that winter is coming soon.

 

 

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Yukimushi

Winter is right around the corner. You want to know how I know this? Yesterday, I saw this guy:

yukimushi 2

And what is that little winged puffball bug, you may ask? That, my friends, is a yukimushi– translated literally, a “snow bug.” They’re very small, about the size of a gnat, and have a fluffy white body, and make people think of falling snow. Most people in Hokkaido say that after yukimushi is seen, it will start snowing within the month. I’ve also heard it said, though, that it will snow in 10 days if you see yukimushi– but I don’t think I quite believe that. It’s getting chilly, but isn’t that cold yet!

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Yesterday when I was speaking with my tea ceremony teacher, I mentioned to her that I was excited for winter (skiing!) and that it had snowed on Asahidake last week. She told me she had been seeing yukimushi for a week already, and when I was surprised, showed me out behind her house. Sure enough, the air was filled with them!

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I couldn’t find an English name for them, but did find out they’re a type of aphid, and have a sticky body. They’re extremely sensitive to heat- even someone’s body heat can make them sluggish (sorry little guys I caught for these pictures!) and so show up only when the weather gets colder. They also only live for a week- the males don’t have mouths, so they can’t eat, and females lay eggs and then die themselves.

September is a little early to be seeing them- maybe we’re in for an early winter! Though I don’t think it will arrive within the next week. Either way, I’m excited for this gorgeous time of year.