Not a Snow Person
This month has been the snowiest I have spent in Deutschland. I think. Apart from a freak showing of snow in December 2010, my first winter spent in Münster for which I was inadequately clothed and mentally ill-prepared, I don’t quite recall so much snow falling so consistently. Keep in mind, apart from one winter spent in Bavaria which was Arschkalt but not overly white (although maybe it was white; I have blocked a good portion of my Bavarian life out, like a good north German), I have spent the majority of my time here in a state known more for its rain than its snow. And do you know what? Given the choice, I think I would take rain over snow because rain can fall when it’s warm; snow means cold and I am not good with the cold. Still; after all these years. I recall yelling once, while flapping around Nürnberg in -25 degrees, unsure of whether my system was shutting down or whether I was panicking because I could not feel my face, ‘I am a parrot fish in the Baltic’ and for some reason that terrible, amateurish analogy has stuck with me, particularly as I now do indeed live near the Baltic.
My feelings towards snow are much like my father’s; I have inherited his fascination for true crime, his inability to watch something without googling all the actors, and acrimonious feelings towards snow. He happened to be, along with my mother, visiting during the aforementioned unusually snow December in Münster. Mum was getting around in a coat that looked like something you could white water raft in, and a fur hat. She was in her element. My father had been forced to buy large Timberlands after a slip on ice in Nice (where he was learning French, his talent for the language was also passed onto me) had resulted in a sore tailbone. They had planned to go to Dresden, something my mother has long wanted to do and never done, despite numerous trips to Germany. However, one night, Dad sat up late tapping at his ipad and the next morning informed us all he had had organised flights back to Australia. There would be no Dresden. My father had reached his snow threshold; the bracing, powdery walks in which the hems of his jeans got wet, the slush, the inconvenience of daily life and mobility, the constant feeling of being cold (which would have been tempered, my mother pointed out, by her inflatable coat), it all grew too much for him in the ten days he was there. I have never seen him so happy to leave a place.
There are, of course, Australians who love snow. I cannot blame my hatred of the stuff on my nationality (although I do, a lot, like I blame loads of unrelated things on the country of my birth). Also, it does snow in Australia; I answer this question at least 4 times a week, so I’ll address it now as well. It does everything in Australia. That place is a giant continent that has every single type of weather you could imagine, favouring, of course, weather of the bone dry variety in many parts. And many Australian families are of the type that take skiing holidays in our snowy region. My family, however, are not that type. We took a skiing holiday once, in 1995, and both my parents skiied, one after the other, into a large fence. If I recall correctly, one of them got stuck. I fought tirelessly with the t-bar lift and ended up falling of it, skis hopelessly criss-crossed, my young ankles aching. We never returned. In adulthood, my brother has become an adept skiier and lover of that culture. He stands alone.
Of my own children, I have one who tolerates snow, or at least is unbothered by it, and another who hates it. I’m sure as he gets older and experiences the thrill of sledding and all of that, he’ll change his mind. But at the moment, he feels the same way I do about being cold. I didn’t marry a snow-loving German, in fact one of the things that cements our bond is our hatred of the cold and adoration of warmth. And so we will continue the grand tradition of not taking skiing holidays, and being generally bad at ‘doing’ cold weather. We shine in summer, coming alive as the rest of the country is moaning about temps over 25 degrees – ‘es ist jetzt ein bisschen zu warm, oder?‘
Thankfully, however, the snow this month has alternated with blue skies and I do think we are getting far more sunlight this month than we usually do. February is very often an ode to grey, so to see the sky at least twice a week has been an absolute novelty. Some mornings are positively blinding, as we slog our way through the ice and slush to Kindergarten, having wrestled on four layers per child and entertained fantasies of holding a bonfire in which we ritually burn every winter jacket we own.
Someone said to me the other day, ‘it’s good for the nature’, which I feel is an extremely benevolent stance and one I shall also take. That’s if, however, this most recent cold snap doesn’t kill my photinias. As long as they can pull through, I shall allow the freezing weather to do whatever it needs to do in order for a lush, green spring to spring so I can once more drink my morning coffee in the garden.