A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water - Carl Reiner
It might be nice to look at but that is about the height of it. Where I live there was ice still to melt from the last heavy snow a few weeks back when a fresh batch arrived to reinforce it. Now it is everywhere. Even the kids are fed up with it. A novelty at the start they soon grow to realise just how limiting it is. Getting off school is ok but when they are condemned to the house boredom soon sets in.
I like the sense of cooperation and patience that our seriously inclement weather has brought. People moved to assist and steady each other. Road rage seemed to have been reduced as motorists recognised their mutual difficulties. Most of those who fell seemed to have been women. On a few occasions I had to stop to get women on their feet or pick up their belongings after a fall. Courtesy of my wife I had a pair of snow grippers on my shoes which meant I could move pretty freely. Everybody should stock a pair. Their value is to be marvelled at. And they are not a gimmick but actually do what it says on the tin.
Snow, despite its challenges can bring fun. But tonight we saw how it can be the harbinger of grief and loss. A fifteen year old girl dies after her improvised sleigh hit a tree on a Cork golf course. A mother and her child both lose their lives when their car skidded on ice a few miles up the road from us. What emptiness in those households on Christmas morning. The fatal season rather than the festive for the families and their loved ones lost.
The only creatures that seem to enjoy it no matter how long it lasts are dogs. Each morning at the weekends myself and a friend walk the dogs. They love rummaging through the snow laden fields where they can charge around free from the rigours of the choke chains around their necks. A dog’s life doesn’t seem so bad after all. The ease with which they adapt to the extreme cold amazes me. We are well wrapped up while they go pretty much as the day they were born.
During the blanket protest with no windows in the cells and the snow falling outside, which was sometimes driven into the cells by the howling wind, the thought crossed my mind that freezing to death was no longer a remote possibility. A screw commented that he expected to open a cell door some morning and find a prisoner dead from exposure. Most of his colleagues, being the fine Christian gentlemen that they were, probably prayed for it, their bibles firmly in hand. Yet the bible was a source of joy to me. I could stand on it while speaking out the window and keep my feet off the sub zero concrete floor.
I am old enough to recall the big freeze of 1963. Memories of the snow in the back yard being higher than my small frame are vivid in my mind. The channel my father and other men dug through the street to allow some form of movement probably saved the lives of some of the older residents in the Lower Ormeau Road’s Bagot Street. It was about then I first heard my father’s joke about the difference between a snowman and a snow woman – snowballs.
My mother nursed our then youngest sister through it and when the thaw set in thanked her god for his mercy in protecting a new born, only to lose her to pneumonia at the onset of spring. She lies buried under a simple marker placed on her grave by my mother saying ‘my Pauline.’
God isn’t good, god isn’t bad. God just isn’t. It took her many years to realise that but by the time she did I think she was all the happier for it. No longer tormented as to why a good god might deprive her of her child, she could reconcile herself to nature. Better that she did. Imagine going to face a monster like that the other side of the grave.
It is supposed to be 10 below outside. Time to turn the heating back on before the temperature differential levels out. It is the only way to ward of the invasive chill. Snowed in, snowed under, snowed off.
Painting A Cold Floor by Raymond Watson, from the series The Shot Lock