Megan Monfreda is a senior at MU who grew up in southern California. She experienced a snowstorm for the first time in the winter of 2012-13, and her dog was introduced to a winter wonderland for the first time in the recent snowstorm that left parts of Columbia blanketed in 10 inches.
Growing up in southern California, I never realized how spoiled with sunshine I was until I experienced my first Missouri “snow-pocalypse.” In the fall of 2012, I moved to Columbia, Missouri, to attend Mizzou and pursue Journalism. It was late August when I settled into my apartment and immediately noticed something strange about the weather: there was humidity, something I has never experienced before in L.A. At night, there were lightning shows and strange noises coming from the trees tops; I later learned those were called cicada bugs. But as the winter approached in late November and early December, I had no idea how to prepare. I had visited Boston, Massachusetts, just once before; during that time there was a soft flurry of snow. It had been years since my visit to Boston, so I really had no experience with snow and how to manage it.
My roommate at the time was a girl who had been born and raised in Lebanon, Missouri. Her entire life she was exposed to ice and snow. She knew very well that I wasn’t one to like the cold, but I kept asking her for advice on what to do when it did snow. One night, the weatherman predicted snow within the next few days, so my roommate decided it was time for us to make a trip to Walmart for extra supplies. While we were there, we bought my first ice scraper and a gallon of De-Icer fluid for my car. I was excited, yet nervous at the same time because I had no idea what I was really going to do when the snow fell, even though I was living with a snow expert. I had never owned more than 5 long sleeved shirts in my life, and even worse, only had one winter coat, which I would consider a California-approved winter coat. Somehow, I knew it would all work out!
One morning in January, my roommate woke me up with excitement, screaming, “Megan, Megan, look out your window! There’s snow outside!!” I remember peeking out the window closest to my bed and seeing snow about 3 inches high, covering every tree branch, every car and the entire street. It was falling down in chunks, sticking to everything it could. I remember telling my roommate at one point, “It looks just like the movies!” She laughed at me. The night before it snowed, I had slept in bright turquoise footie-pajamas and remembered slipping on some boots and running outside. I had FaceTime running on my iPhone, and showed my family in California my white driveway, my covered streets and my frozen car. They were amused and told me that in that moment, they were sitting outside in the backyard at home, drinking coffee by the pool in the 80-degree weather. I took several pictures and videos to record what I had never seen so much of before and even stuck out my tongue to taste the snowflakes. I remember wondering how hard it would be to try to pull my car out if I needed to drive anywhere, but roommate and boyfriend both advised I just enjoy the snow rather than try to drive in it.
Throughout the week, Columbia had even more snow. I was hearing about people going to Walmart and buying in bulk in case of being snowed in and it worried me. Almost a week had gone by and the snow had increased so much that Mizzou sent out an email to the students canceling classes. I was even more excited to be able to stay home and have my first snow day. My boyfriend came over and we made snow angels and built a snow man. As childish as it may sound, I had to do it myself. I had never experienced it before. What made the experience even greater was the canceling of classes again the next day, and once more after that. It had been about a week that I did not need to attend my classes but instead I was able to spend time at home and hang out with my friends and boyfriend throughout the days. At that point, coming to school in Missouri was the best decision I ever made! As the snow began to melt months later, I learned about how to better drive in it by using my brakes ahead of time, always wearing gloves and ChapStick, never using hot water on your windshield, and to always be ready to help someone if they are stuck when driving.
As the 2014 winter approached, I had a better handle on what to expect this time around. Throughout the summer, I took on the responsibility of a owning a puppy named Jackson. He was the smallest and shyest dog I had ever owned, but his personality broke in very quickly and grew to be a 75-pound cattle dog/lab. I tried to prepare early for the winters with Jackson and went as far as buying something called a Porch Potty. Over the summer I flew home to be with family and saw an ad in the Sky Mall magazines about this Porch Potty. In these types of magazines they advertise crazy inventions for entertainment purposes but this one really caught my attention. It was a beautifully furnished wicker stand that held a large sheet of turf grass. Underneath the wicker stand was a catch bowl that would catch the urine as it fell through the turf grass, leaving only the waste for me to pick up and throw away. There were even upscale versions that came with installed sprinklers to rinse the turf grass each time and empty it through a drain. For $400 I bought this for my apartment which is on the second level, with 3 staircases. I thought this was a genius idea to have prepared for the snow time so that Jackson could excuse himself on his own, while I would be warm inside and clean up his mess later. For almost 2 weeks, Jackson laid on the turf thinking it was a bed, never using the Porch Potty once. I returned it immediately and continued to take him out like normal.
When the first snow came in early December 2013, I was curious to see how Jackson would react. For the first couple of times I took him out, he hopped around because the ground was so cold on his paws. What was even harder was having him find a spot to use the bathroom. Jackson was trained to only go on the grass, which explained why he never used the Porch Potty, so having to find grass buried under inches of snow was difficult for him and myself. One weekend I took him out to an open field and let him off the leash to run around in the snow. The second I released him he darted off into the snow and galloped with the happiest puppy face! He ran and ran and rolled in the snow, even eating the snow. I threw snowballs at him and put snow all over his belly; he loved it!
Now, in our second month of more serious snow, Jackson and I are more prepared for how to deal with the snow. I am starting to get used to what I had never experienced before. I miss the California sunshine more than ever, but know that spring is right around the corner. Though it is new to Jackson and me, we still appreciate and enjoy the snow very much and will look forward to it each and every year.
This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.