July 31, 2011

Finally, Some White Stuff Falling from the Sky!

Dunedin finally got some white stuff last weekend.  Snow!  Snow is a rarity here with the temperate seaside climate (read this – cold and damp and never quite cold enough to be dry). My first winter in Dunedin, back in 2004, I lived up on a hill with 2 New Zealand flatmates.  One wonderful morning I gleefully woke up to about 6 or 7 inches of snow.  The three of us went outside in the street and built a snowman, took some photos, and basked in the brightness that a sunny, snowy morning can bring. Then I packed my bag for the day and started to head off down the hill to Uni. My flatmates gasped. “Where are you going?” “Uh, to school,” I replied. “But it’s snowy!”  “I know, it’ll be such a lovely walk!”  Only when I got to Uni did their inquiry and concern make sense. No one was there. Everything was shut. While I found the snow-covered morning to be exciting, it had literally never occurred to me that it would change the course of my day. Silly girl from snowy climates - Dunedin doesn’t function in the snow!

Last weekend, the snow amounted to only about 1 inch, but Dunedin didn’t let me down. Dunedin confirmed what I had learned to be true 7 years ago: It completely ceases to function when it snows. Even 1 inch of snow. As the ground became barely blanketed, people rushed to ask me (in anxious, expectant tones!) – “Doesn’t this remind you of Alaska?”  Ummmmm.  My mind raced to find an answer that would be truthful but not crush their enthusiasm for the ‘storm’ that was practically the event of the decade. Eloquence eluded me and, “Uhhhmm, soorrrt of” was my best answer.  Except that in Alaska or Utah or Colorado, you are still expected to show up at school and work when it snows. Banks don’t close, the highway stays open and events aren’t cancelled. A general sense of armagedon does not hang thick in the air.  The next day’s newspaper headline, when the amazing 1 inch of snow has melted, does not read, in big, bold, serious letters: “Now the fear is Black Ice!”

Kids sledding! Look at them having the time of their lives! (You could hear the sled scraping along the asphalt under the 1 inch of snow, but I won't begrudge them their fun!)