Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So it's come to this - a post about snow.

This is altogether the wrong sort of post for this blog. Late (hah, not so wrong there, then), and nearly off-topic in its topicality; you can’t actually throw snow away, can you? Of course you can reminisce about snow, cherish the memory of it, gloss over the cold and inevitable slush and damp which follows as you wistfully recall the fluffier, warming, magical overtures of that rare winter phenomenon. Of course in Wellington snow is so rare it’s never discussed, unless the Orongorongos and Rimutaka Hill get one of their dustings, or further along, the Desert Road. Not Wellington though. Not good old Wellingtown and its hilly suburbs, they never get snow. That would be silly…


So it is for me and my beloved that snow was until recently a distant memory, a keepsake memory of Dunedin winters or the occasional hometown experience (Gorillamydreams actually got stuck in Canterbury’s Big Freeze of ’06, of which more in another post). In fact, GMD was only a fortnight ago wistfully and vocally regretting the capital’s lack of snowability, and now look what’s happened. As it was, we can’t say we weren’t warned. It even had the decency to arrive on a late Sunday afternoon in a startling and surprising flurry of specks, then motes, then great sudsy blobs, rendering Darkest Paparangi the look of a suburban snowglobe. Jet Jr was summarily clad in extra layers and marched out to capture and enjoy the moment, and yours truly gathered wood for the fire. Around us people emerged from their homes and the street took on the sounds of kids playing and older kids and younger adults too – it was really rather brilliant. And it lasted for two days, until after early dismissals from work and frosty bus rides (including a memorable climb through Woodridge during which I glanced up from my cell phone game to wonder where in the hell we were in all this muffled clutter of royal icing houses) the rain finally arrived on Tuesday night and dutifully washed drifts and slurry away. Only the wind and the chill remained, as they continue to do.

Ah, but that snow. For a short while Wellington was a would-be Dunedin, and if you squinted and thought of the southern city then maybe, just maybe you could fool yourself into thinking you were back there. But Wellington under snowdrifts I’ve found hasn’t quite got the charm of its deep south sibling. It might be the size, the narrowness of the streets or the closed-in hills that deprive you of the truly big sky vistas of the mainland that I remember. Maybe the scale is wrong, or the angle is off. And maybe that’s why the snows of winters past in Dunedin, on campus and spreading up the valleys and city rises deadening the drone of traffic and closing off the motorway from Pine Hill to the Kilmog have become the stuff of jettisoned past. You can’t throw snow away and you can’t take it with you, but it never loses its magical ability to transform the places you take for granted.

Two days on it’s probably time to take stock – count the logs under the Monkeyhouse, inspect the pak choi and puka for frost damage and consider a little more weather strip around the windows for next year.

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