I sat on the train yesterday morning, looking out the window and wistfully thinking of those halcyon days of yore when things were, well, how can I say it, things were just a bit more predictable, a bit easier even. The world glimmered reliably in deep, white snow back then. Our garden was filled to the brim, courtesy of all the shoveled snow from our own path, graciously helped along by the neighbours upstairs as they cleared their stairwell in their attempt to come down to earth in one piece. Walking through trees on the way to school turned into stooping through tunnels, as the snow weighed down the branches and you tried not to have too much of it sticking to your woolly hat or in your handbag when you came out the other end. With no real experience of snow before I moved to Norway, I was the one saying Whow! or Isn’t this amazing!, on repeat, for days on end.
So anyway, that was early last week, pulling towards late January I suppose you’d say. We even dug out the cross-country skis that Sunday, went out in front of our house and just took off skiing on the pedestrian roads around the neighbourhood for a few hours. There were few people on the streets so when I did fall over, there was only my own dear family to see it, show momentary concern, figure out I was grand and carry on regardless. I went on skis for the first time in my life last winter. If, as Malcolm Gladwell said, it takes 10,000 hours to become great at something, I’m making good progress with only around 9,996 hours to go now.
But then the great meltdown came a few days later, temperatures went above 0 deg C and much of the world here became a sea of wet slush on a bed rock of hard ice, treacherous to walk on. The world went from dreamy white to wet, icy, grim grey. Everywhere on footpaths were people baby-stepping and aquaplaning in turn, as cars and buses whizzed past as normal on the cleared roads. My favourite part of this weather front was walking beside manholes in the ground when I could hear that the tons of melting snow were becoming raging rivers underground. Impressive audio from the manholes in those days. The Oslo authorities were afraid we would all be floating in no time if the snow mass kept melting but then the freeze came back to rescue us all.
Since then, the snow has come, melted again and returned three or four times, all very jittery really. Due to the sheer volume of snow from early January, the snow piles never totally disappeared. I could still easily dig myself a snow cave in the garden today if I wanted to get away from it all for a while. But at the current rate of flux, I might need flood-proofing for the next thaw that’s around the corner.
With the temperatures constantly fluctuating between minus and plus, we’ve learned that you need to make the most of the weather each day because you just don’t know what’s coming. We found an ice-skating rink not far from us last weekend and off we went with our very keen 6 year old daughter. The setting was beautiful, on the edge of a forest with a big container serving as the hub for skis, sticks, skates and helmets, all free to borrow. I fancied myself on ice so I thought I’d give it a go. The husband took the job of keeping the girls upright or pulling us up off the ice if he didn’t catch us fast enough. I lasted about five minutes and two topples. You see, this hardcore rink didn’t have a rail around it to hold on to, which I realised was a vital piece of equipment whenever I ice-skated before. There was nothing there except fresh cold air, hope and the husband to keep me upright. The required skill just didn’t turn up on the day. Pride got the better of me in no time and I tottered off to give the skates and helmet back to the nice man in the container.
The yo-yoing temperatures continue this week but next week, we are promised good hardy temperatures of around -15 deg C throughout the week. Mad as it sounds, I am looking forward to it so at least any remaining snow on the ground will be just that and not continuously in danger of turning to water and flowing off somewhere. Bad for the nerves, that.
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