Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Things That Snow Teaches Us
I am not one of those who bemoan the fact that the UK grinds to a halt when we get a bit of snow. No, I understand how the unpredictability of our weather makes it uneconomical to spend millions of pounds on equipment that would keep us all going through the few days a year when we experience what others in colder climes have all Winter.
The disadvantage with not getting snow that often is that we forget what to do or, having got so used to being without it, try to carry on as if it wasn't there.
Lesson 1: take my car. Six months ago I'd have described it as my new car; but now in the middle of winter, I found I had neglected to read the bit of the handbook entitled 'Driving In Snow', so I didn't turn off the Traction Control when I found myself in blizzard conditions yesterday. Still as the car skidded towards a dry stone wall - that looked quite picturesque bedecked with the white stuff - I did learn that there is a handy little orange light with a picture of a car skidding to let you know you are, well, skidding. Handy that.
Anyway, the car stopped before we hit the wall, and I read the handy book - thought it defeats me why you'd want to turn off the traction control at the time you need most traction.
Lesson 2: About neighbours. In the category of 'carrying on as if it wasn't there' are many of my neighbours. We live at the top of a steep hill which when covered with snow is slippy. You can tell it's slippy just by looking at it. You can tell even more by the cars sliding sideways and backwards as they struggle to grip the gradient. So why do my neighbours insist on even starting the climb as the other cars slew towards them.
Lesson 3: Community Spirit.Perhaps it's the security of having your car as near home as possible, safely on your driveway which incidentally is clear of snow and thoroughly gritted with the council's grit out of the yellow grit bin. Of course their snowy adaptation doesn't extend to any sort of community spirited spreading of grit on the roadway or footpath to help out their neighbours. But then there isn't any grit left for the road - it's all on their drives.
Anyway, this last flush has beaten all of them. A good eight inches is covering our garden and it looks lovely as I walk down to where my car is parked a couple of safe streets away.
Lesson 4: Community Spirit 2. So bring on the chaos I say. What's the problem with a couple of days in the year where we actually have to walk somewhere? The walk from my car to our house took me thirty minutes tonight; not because it was so tough but because I bumped into neighbours I hadn't spoken to for ages (the nice ones, not the other sort). It was great.
P.S. Thanks to Lisa for the picture from her Flickr account.