Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Walking in a winter wonderland

So, New Zealand has been hit with a so-called once in a lifetime "blizzard" this week. I had to gently point out, being a former Baltimorean after all, that that term has a specific and meteorological meaning and so probably does not mean what they think it means.

Still, it's cute. Everyone's freaked out and theatres have been closing early and the mail has, literally, not run for three days.

I'm not unsympathetic. I get that it's novel and exciting and more than a little bit scary. But still, in Wellington it was, at most, a dusting. A couple of inches in higher elevations.

That being said, it's not easy being snowed in in Wellington. I remember remarking during the (actual) blizzard in Atlanta in 1993 that the problem was that the town was unequipped to deal with it. You get a foot of snow in Buffalo, the plows come out and the people go about their business. In Atlanta, they don't have plows, they have sand trucks. And try as you might, you cannot sand away a foot of snow.

The same applies here, only they don't even have sand trucks. There is literally no procedure in place to deal with snow, except to close the roads, cancel essential services, and hope.

And all for a population that, on the whole, has no central heating.

So yeah, I get it. Storm of a lifetime, apparently. Or, at least, storm of a generation. Most people I meet in Wellington have never seen snow. The last time it snowed down to sea level here was over twenty years ago. Even my own boyfriend, ever the staunch Australian, has been gobsmacked by it all, since it's the first time it's ever snowed where he lived. It's quite adorable actually.

Everyone has been quite transfixed by it, stopping to take it all in. Which is good in my world, which tends to be high pressure, everything happening fast and loose. Even the strongest and most jaded MPs (namely the one I work for) have taken a moment to stop, enjoy it and marvel at it.

The first day it hit, we were overcome in Thorndon by giant, majestic and foreign snowflakes, falling fast. I was hanging out of my window to try and capture it on film (note: it is not easy to photograph snowflakes falling) and then spotted some tween boys that live on my block running down the street, wearing shorts. One of them didn't even have shoes on.

I couldn't help myself. Before I even thought about it, I called out the window, "hey, put some pants on! You'll catch your death!"

"There's no time! I don't want to miss it!"

That's the moment that I knew, number one, that I am old. I'm that woman now, apparently, that yells at you from her window. And number two, I realised that the abject joy brought about by an unexpected snowstorm has been taken from me and handed, rightly, to the next generation.

I like to think that the next time it snows in Wellington, some twenty or more years from now, one of those boys will be bundling up his own boy to go out into the thick of it. And he'll be having a laugh as he relays the story of that old lady who yelled at him the last time it snowed.

And then he'll say, "and she was right. That's why I only have nine toes. Now lets get another pair of socks on you."


Blogger mcz said...

fantastic! growing up in london, snow was a novelty too. i'm sure the "blizzard" i fondly recall from age 5 or 6 was a dusting... i say in lieu of central heating, snuggle up to that australian boyfriend.

5:34 AM  

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