I realized today that this year is the first in many years that I actually get to enjoy the snow.
When I was still living in France, I used to go skying pretty much every year. I was lucky enough in the sense that the mountains were only a couple of hours away. Now when I say mountains, I mean MOUNTAINS, big ones with 3 months of snow a year if not more, and skying slopes and peaks. When somebody mentioned the Dublin Mountains to me, I remember thinking 'mountains?! What mountains?! these are only hills.' Which is exactly what my parents said to me when I mentioned to them the ''mountains''.
When it snowed last year, I didn't get to enjoy it. It lengthened my journey home from work and still I was one of the lucky ones making the 5 miles journey in about 1h30 (taking into account that I used to finish work at 18h00, I didn't really appreciate to get home that late). I was 4 months pregnant at the time and the 2nd half of the journey was spent wishing I could go to the toilet. Once I managed to get out of the car, I was terrified that I would slip and fall. We also were living in an apartment which meant no garden for Marie to play in, an underground car park with frozen ramps and a non existent management company to grit either the ramps or the paths around the block. The only fun we had was watching the cars trying to get up the hill onto which the apartment block was located.
This year however it is all different. I find snow quite hypnotic. While cleaning the spare bedroom in preparation for my parents' arrival tomorrow (fingers crossed, as there is a severe weather warning in the south of France tonight), I regularly stopped, just to stare out the window for minutes at a time, watching the flakes falling and accumulating on the ground. I didn't get to do everything I wanted to do but I worked doubly hard today and made up for it.
I really enjoy the whole ritual that comes with preparing for going out for a walk in the snow. I love wrapping the kids up warm, making sure that their coats are zipped up and that their scarf is well wrapped, not too tight but not too loose, that their hats are on right and that their gloves or mittens are well paired. What I enjoyed the most today was strapping Noelie in her buggy and piling up the blankets on her, to make sure she was nice and toasty for our stroll down the shops.
I enjoy that first breath of cold, brisk and seemingly cleaner air, well wrapped in my big jacket with my hat, scarf and gloves. I love the sounds that shoes make on the snow, either screeching or crunching, when all other sounds seem to be muffled, when life seems calmer and quieter. I love the purity of the colour, when houses look like they have also wrapped up and put a white hat on. I love the footprints left in the snow, reminders that people walk those paths everyday yet leave no trace of it. I love feeling the cold biting my nose.
But most of all, I love coming back into the warmth of the house, lighting a nice fire, making a nice cup of hot chocolate or soup, and warming ourselves up. Looking at Marie and Noelie's rosy cheeks, feeling my ears burning when they warm up, and looking out the window to the flakes falling, or to the kids chasing each other, throwing snowballs, building snowmen.
I think that snow brings out the child in adults as they walk and playfully throw snowballs at each other. It slows the world down, as well as the cars. But it also has its downsides and I can't help thinking about people that it isolates, or people that suffer from the cold.
This year, however, I do get to enjoy it and it brings back memories, those of a time when snow was only a couple of hours away.