Winter sans (without) Snow

Traditional Japanese Mailbox in Winter (Shaped Postcard)

Laura is learning about the seasons in school.  Winter, spring, summer, fall–she likes to repeat the words and listen to the sound they make.  Evita has sent me several seasonally themed Japanese mailbox cards for my postcard collection and they are among my favorites.  The Japanese tourist board likes to talk about Japan’s four distinct seasons.  At first, this made me smile–unless you live near the Equator, you are guaranteed to watch the seasons come and go.  Now, that I live in Brittany, I’m not laughing anymore.  Lately, it feels like we only have two seasons–winter and not-winter and neither of them include snow!  Snow here by the sea is a very rare occurrence.  Two or three centimeters and everything shuts down including the post office.  I suppose it’s just what you get used to; since snow is practically unheard of, no one has snow plows, snow tires, or the like.  Driving in it?  Don’t even bother!  You might know how to drive in snow but if the other 99.9% of the population doesn’t, you’re still not going anywhere!  If you want to see the snow or go skiing, head to the mountains or move inland.

School vacations are in part specifically designed around the ski season here.  While all school age children share certain vacation periods (Christmas/New Year’s and the summer break, for example), others including winter break are spread out by zone in an overlapping fashion.  France is broken into three zones conveniently entitled A, B and C.  The idea is that the ski resorts will be able to accommodate more people over a longer period of time if school winter vacations are staggered.  Based on the way tourism professionals here defend the Zone system it must work.  Zone A which includes Brittany, will be on vacation in the second half of February.  Japanese school holidays, on the other hand, are very well-defined and the same for all students–in addition to public holidays, students are off during the end of the year, late March/early April, and summer break.  Vacation planning made simple or as my friend put it, when not to visit Japan!  We don’t have any plans yet for February–maybe a day trip to Rennes or Caen just to get out.  While a bit of snow would be nice and make me feel like we’ve had a real winter, I’m not so desperate for it that I want to trek to the otherside of the country and use up our entire vacation budget for the year in the process!  I’d rather save up and wait for warmer weather to go exploring….my imagination is always full of ideas and this year they include the USA!

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