My Mother is snowed in so severely at the foot of the Dublin mountains, she can no longer see her car. My brother, living in an apartment complex, had the misfortune to be living in the only block with no water supply since Thursday. He didn’t go into details of the why but the how entailed going out ‘in the thick of it’ and queueing for forty minutes outside the nearest Centra for drinking water, gathering snow in a bucket and wearing two fleeces to cope with the cold inside the apartment.
I remember 1982. Vividly. I was ten. A friend of my Mother’s came to stay for a night and ended up staying two weeks. The weather had been cold but the house woke that morning to a blanket of snow, an uninterrupted vista of white stretching for miles, and drifts several feet high against the walls, the cars and the front door. I think we may have installed a porch after this snowfall as the snow was seeping in under the door.
I remember snowball fights and make-shift sleighs, building snowmen and being off school. I remember the boredom after the novelty of playing in the snow had worn off, how hard it was to get warm after being outside for hours. I remember my Father’s worry and stress at not being able to go to work. I remember too, running out of food and having to walk to the supermarket in the bone-numbing cold; it is still, to this day, a twenty minute walk in good weather.
1982 instilled in me a deep dislike of snow, a distrust of it, the cold and all its accoutrements. It is not as it seems. It looks beautiful but is lethal. It appears soft and malleable but is hard and resistant. It holds everything and everyone to ransom in its icy grip and then drops them just as quickly as it took hold. It looks like it will stay forever and yet is gone in a flash. It is the Houdini of weather. Or maybe Casanova is a better analogy – fickle and flashy. It is unrepentant for the difficulties and upset it inflicts.
Nothing – not the snowfall of 2010, nor alpine ski holidays, nor crystal clear mountain air with bright blue skies as a backdrop, nor any amount of hot, sweetened beverages; none of it has ever changed my mind about snow and this epsiode certainly won’t.