Friday, 6 February 2009

The White Stuff

Some white stuff swirls out of a leaden sky, and our little lives change.

To be fair, we haven't seen so much white stuff for over twenty years, so we are excited, frightened, anxious, angry, delighted, appalled and enchanted.

Schools close, public transport systems collapse. There is panic buying of bread, milk, loo rolls, and anything else that might possibly be in short supply. The airports are closed.....there will be no more strawberries from Morocco for several days. How will we manage?

We managed initially by panicking as soon as the severe weather warnings were heard. I called in at the largest local supermarket on Wednesday, and thought I was having a really Senior Moment and that it must be Christmas Eve. The massive car-park was full, and people were staggering around with trollies full of milk containers by the gallon. Every cash desk had a queue of at least ten people.
Then we managed by chatting to each other in the queues. We were all shocked but amused by everyone else's trolley-load. We, of course, were just buying a few essentials which we had planned to buy anyway. We'd just added a few extra items to be on the safe side.

Overnight the snow came, just as we had been told it would. But it still took us all by surprise.
It was quiet.
It was light.
It was beautiful.
Those of us who ventured out smiled at each other, and wished each other well, admiring our mutual bravery. Children, even adolescents, who had never experienced snow were having a wonderful time, playing, like children used to do.
The dog tried to eat it.

Now we have relaxed into our Nordic life-style. We have found the ski-poles and the toboggans and tipped the spiders out of the snow-boots.
We are being really nice to one another, united in this rare experience; thinking of one another, being kind.

By tomorrow the white stuff will be khaki slush and we'll all be moaning again. Only a few more days and we'll be eating Moroccan strawberries.


persiflage said...

It looks beautiful. It is so good when people pull together.
In my city we are expecting more than 40 degrees C, so I am closing up the windows, curtains and blinds to keep as much heat out as possible. There are bushfires - some, it seems deliberately lit.

herhimnbryn said...

It looks beautiful indeed. Loved your comment over at my place , have advised others to go read.

pohanginapete said...

"The dog tried to eat it" — This brings back memories of a Burmese cat walking on snow for the first time. Shaking its paws, not sure what this cold stuff was. We laughed, but she retained her dignity, of course.

Such a contrast to our weather here, half a world away. In Christchurch a couple of weeks ago the temperature regularly rose above 30°C.

Anne-Marie said...

I hope you enjoy your Morrocan strawberries ... when they return. I'm sure you all deserve them.

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for a city where people have been literally dying of the heat.

Zhoen said...

Must be some switch in the human brain, when a big change happens, we all hoard and quietly panic.

I still want to light a hurricane candle whenever there is a thunderstorm.

Relatively Retiring said...

persiflage; it's hard to believe that anyone would start fires in such conditions. It's really difficult to accept human nature sometimes. Stay safe.

HHnB; see how inspirational you are! Many thanks.

PPete; good to see you back. Yes, (yerrss in NZ) great differences between cats and dogs. The elderly lady dog, realising her mistake, went into clown mode, biting the snow, gambolling in it in an old-lady way (like her owner).

Anne-Marie: I hope you realise I am horrified by Moroccan strawberries - and Egyptian asparagus, both available here.
Safe travelling.

Zhoen: isn't it wonderful how precious home becomes when you think you might not get back there?

mm said...

You are such a good writer! I was with a dog today who also ate some snow.

Relatively Retiring said...

Oh, thank you, mm.
It seems dogs will have a go at anything.....if in doubt, eat it!

leslee said...

Happens every year here in New England with the first big snowstorm. Hoarding. And smiling at strangers (the ones they're not running down with their grocery carts anyway). With each subsequent storm there's a more resignation and less hoarding, unless the forecasters are playing up a Big One's coming. Now we just have to dodge the growing piles of dirty snow that make every street a single-lane street...

Glad you enjoyed it - it looks beautiful. :-)

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee; it's great, isn't it? A change in the weather seems to bring out the most basic instincts in all of us. It's such a shame that the smiles vanish as the snow melts.

Julie said...

The Tibetan played in the snow at 3am and refused to come in for a good hour. The pups race around until they're too ice-bound to walk without sliding while the cats look on with disdain.
I have also eaten a handful of snow, it's a family tradition...
Lovely, isn't it, and the forecast is for more
Let It Snow!

Peregrina said...

I did enjoy reading this! I felt so smug, too. If it so happens that we should have a heavy snowfall, admittedly not likely just at the moment, I already have my Hoard of Essentials in the Earthquake Box (which will double as a Bird-flu Box should we be so unfortunate as to be afflicted). Heaps of loo paper, porridge oats, milk (well, the powdered variety, so not as flavoursome as fresh, but better than nothing), pasta, rice, tins of tomatoes, dried fruit and so on ... Oh, no! I've just remembered. I raided it over Christmas when we had a houseful of people and haven't yet replenished it.

It's funny how town people seem to need an excuse to talk to strangers when they meet in the street. It was something I particularly noticed when I lived in England. I had the feeling that people wanted to smile, wanted to talk, but perhaps were afraid of a rebuff if there wasn't something out-of-the-ordinary that made a safe topic for conversation.

Relatively Retiring said...

Julie: I enjoy dogs' ability to make fools of themselves. The only cat I know of who has lost a bit of dignity belongs to a friend of mine. She (the cat) is keen on ice-cream and spent a good fifteen minutes licking snow without much sign of satisfaction - no sugar-rush at all!

Peregrina: I love the idea of a Bird-Flu Box. Whatever happened to Bird Flu?
Yes, it's sad that we English seem to need a crisis in common to summon up the courage to smile at one another.

Julie said...

Moroccan strawberries! Not me my friend. I simply refuse to buy anything that's been air-lifted from it's home soil and delivered out of season in a cellophane strait-jacket.
The best strawberries are picked from the garden after they've had the opportunity to soak up the sun.
I wonder how my strawberries will fare in France without me this year....
PS Let It Snow!

Relatively Retiring said...

Julie: I absolutely agree with you. That was a caustic comment that misfired!
I hope your strawberries will survive. They may be tougher than you think. Those little alpine strawberries (which is where I assume the cultivars started) are as tough as any weed.

It'll be flood panic now!