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Sunday, 14 February 2010

Winter

I really don’t know how much more of this I can take. It’s snowing outside. Again. In fact, it’s been snowing more or less continuously for the past twenty four hours how. It’s not heavy snow – if it were ten degrees warmer it would be the kind of light drizzle that wouldn’t really bother you. You’d tell yourself it was February, it’s still winter, you can’t expect sunshine at this time of year. But even this kind of light snow-drizzle can build up to quite a respectable amount when it’s been falling for a whole day. And it’s not as if there weren’t piles of snow everywhere before this current lot started.

Most years it wouldn’t bother me. After all, I live in an area where we do get some snow every winter, we’re used to it. We even get heavy snow every now and again. We have winter-tyres on our cars and shovels to dig them out. We enjoy the still whiteness which changes the world so much and the children get excited about building snowmen and sliding down slopes on sleds. But usually such conditions only last for a week or two at most and then a mild low-pressure area comes in from the Atlantic, the temperature rises and it all melts away.

This winter is different. Around the end of November the temperatures dropped below freezing and (with the exception of a few scattered days) they haven’t risen appreciably since. We’ve had snow storms, snow showers, light falls of snow and when it hasn’t snowed the temperatures haven’t climbed enough for the stuff to melt away. The piles pushed to the side of the street just get greyer and greyer until they’re almost completely black from exhaust fumes and dirt thrown up by passing cars and then it snows again and another white layer deposits itself on top of them. The local councils have all run out of salt to spread on the roads so that they are permanently potentially dangerous and the narrow ones are getting narrower all the time. Parking possibilities on the side of the street are diminishing dangerously and people are starting to aggressively defend them. The impulse becomes more understandable if you’ve spent three quarters of an hour digging your car out and making enough room to drive away to stock up on basic supplies and then return an hour later to find that someone else has parked his car on the space you worked so hard to clear.

People are beginning to admit to becoming severely depressed. I’m starting to understand the feelings of gloom many Scandinavians describe when they talk about winter. So much just becomes more of an effort, from dressing yourself in layers to go out of the house, to getting from A to B. You don’t even want to think about what the heating bill is going to be like.

All of this is, of course, complaining in relative comfort. We are, most of us anyway, warm and dry, well-fed and clothed, we haven’t had any power-cuts, the phones haven’t been out. Life looks a lot bleaker for the homeless, or the hundreds of thousands in southern Poland, where there has been even more snow than here, where it has been considerably colder and where rickety infrastructures have collapsed in many places.

It still makes me miserable though. I’m starting to think that global warming mightn’t be such a bad idea after all. Even now, my conscience is telling me I should finish this, put on layers of outdoor clothing and go out and dig out the car. Better now than having to do it tomorrow before going to work. Alternatively, I could just leave it where it is and walk to work tomorrow. It’s not that far, after all, and it would be good for me. But then, the car would still have to be dug out tomorrow. On the other hand, if it goes on snowing, that might be the case anyway …

Roll on spring!

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