Snow and I have an ambivalent relationship.
I used to hate snow. Don’t ask. Suffice it to say it’s cold, wet, and inconvenient if you have to go places. In big cities, like the one I grew up in, it also isn’t exactly pretty as it turns grey quickly. Or yellow. Never mind.
Then came Lorelai Gilmore, with whom I (not very) secretly identified quite a bit, and her love affair with snow. A little later I met my husband with his childlike enthusiasm about snow and his adorably cute inability to pronounce the German word ‘Schnee’ properly. And finally I had a real child, my little monster. Now, if you have ever seen a kid looking out the window in the morning, exclaiming with unadulterated glee “Snow!!!” you can’t really hate snow. Much.
So snow and I have agreed on a fragile truce for the time being.
Which is subjected to quite some strain every time it snows here in the UK.
Granted, it doesn’t happen very often, but it is also not an extremely rare occurrence. Last winter we had three instances, in one of which it stayed cold and white for more than a week.
This season we got lucky. Until last Saturday, when it snowed all through the night, resulting in up to 15 cm of white fluff. And a virtually immediate standstill of life. Even on Monday, there were still 50 % of all flights cancelled because the runways couldn’t get plowed, train services disrupted because of signal failures and schools closed (really?!) – and all of that after the snow had been
- anticipated (with mixed emotions) for most of the winter,
- forecasted for at least two days and
- on the ground for all of Sunday.
OK, I admit I was actually quite impressed when two hours into the storm the major roads here in our neck of the woods were all ready salted. I mean, people were still driving like idiots but I’m not going to gripe about that, seeing that hardly anyone here uses snow tyres and is consequently – and rightfully – concerned about his/her own and others’ well-being.
Which raises an interesting question: Why the frill does half of the drivers not clear their cars of the snow before partaking in traffic? Lazy? In a hurry? Spouse away on a business trip?
I have a theory about this: Most of the island monkeys who fail to rid themselves of snowy view barriers simply can’t. Because British cars are – out of misguided optimism? – not usually equipped with the essential tools for this kind of enterprise, such as hand brushes and ice scrapers.
Just like most households do not own a snow shovel. And why would they? Where I come from, we live by the principle that property entails obligations. In this case the duty to clear a path on the sidewalk outside your property wide enough for a wheelchair to pass. This ideal is obviously not adhered to in this country.
Instead, it is the council’s responsibility to plow, grit or salt the pavement. Now this is where it gets silly, because in this picture here you can see what a sidewalk looks like after the council has taken care of its responsibilities (NOT!), followed by a sunny day with some thawing and a subsequent night of temperatures below zero. Mind you, this is one of the major thoroughfares between the main train station, ASDA and the town centre.
By the way, minor roads and residential areas look pretty much the same, except they usually sport lovely icy ruts in which the cars slither along and which pedestrians wanting to cross the road have to navigate or die trying.
Needless to say, there is no sense in me dusting the snow off my bicycle as it is an utterly useless means of transport until the mighty weather gods have mercy on me and send some serious spring around.
In fact, in conditions like this I tend to not leave the house without the little monster’s buggy for support. It has saved me more than once from probing the temperature and consistency of the ice with my backside. Of course, I am usually the only pram-pusher far and wide because our robust, thick-tyred, German 4×4 equivalent of a pushchair is pretty much the only model that can cope with slush, snow and ice around here.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The past couple of days have me grateful for a number of things:
- Snow is fuuuunnn! For the first time since last year’s pathetic excuse for a summer left us alone with the proverbial British weather, the little monster actually wants to go outside all the time. Horsing around in the snow even trumps watching DVDs. I am in mommy heaven!
- Once you have hobbled your way to the supermarket it is actually a delight to shop there at the moment as most people rather stay at home if they can help it at all.
- So far it has not snowed again, so for now we are spared to proceed to the advanced level of treacherousness that is snow-covered ice. I am sure the NHS (National Health Service) appreciates the break (forgive the pun), too.
- Thanks to the lovely cold weather, two of my earliest posts, Boys in tights and Clothes make the man… have been receiving loads of attention via various search engines. Oh I feel so popular…