Having posted last week that we were having unseasonably mild weather, temperatures plummeted this week, and we got snow! On Monday, I stayed in all day and didn’t notice that the weather had changed dramatically.  When I went to pop out to LIDL, the pavement was an icy death trap and a neighbour skidded and fell just ahead of me. Monday’s black ice was a surprise all around – there was a big accident on the bridge above the U-bahn, where cars simply didn’t realise how icy the road was, and I overheard two people talking about how they were on the bus at this same bridge and lots of people stepped off falling flat on their face.  There was no hint of this the previous day, when it was “No Pants Day” on the U-bahn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnudPNmwvSs   Not really something I need to join in with.

On Tuesday, we woke to a snowy landscape, and the Powers-That-Be had organised machinery to clear paths and throw out gravel, so it was a great deal easier to negotiate.  It has snowed on and off all week, though it’s more like flurries than heavy snowfalls, so everyone has got used to it. Because snow is such a feature for people like me, who haven’t experienced it much, every time it happens I re-live other snow moments in my life: Building a snowman in the back garden during playschool circa 1958; dancing in the heavy snowflakes with Anne Collins on New Years Eve 1962; sliding down the Burma Road on a tray; trudging up to Johnny Fox’s for hot whiskeys over Christmas circa 1972; thick snowdrifts seen from the night train from Bremen visiting Johnny Parle in 1973; a silent snowy wonderland in Bad Herrenalb in December 1976; Brigid and Niall, visiting us in Galway, sliding in snow, demolishing a stone wall in the Morris Minor in 1978; Eamonn and myself almost getting stuck in the mountains driving between Cork and Kerry, shortly after Christmas 1982; Clare as a baby, in a snowsuit, investigating the snow, in the Sierras, California over Thanksgiving, 1994; making a snowman in the back garden with Clare and friends during playschool in late snowfall, Good Friday 1998; bringing Clare over to Knockroe to toboggan with Esme and Nisa, and having a go myself, circa 2004; getting snowbound at home Nov/Dec 2010, then snowbound in Dublin the following week.

Here, it’s a very workaday attitude to the snow – just get it cleared and get back to normal, no standing around talking about it.  They are (of course!) exceptionally efficient – I woke up the other morning at 4.30, to hear the snowplough going past, getting the streets ready for the working population.  I thought loads of students wouldn’t bother to go in, but the classes were full. Today the sun thawed quite a bit of the snow, even though the air temperature was a chilly -7 degrees (tonight it’s dropping to -13 degrees).  That seems to be the low point and after that, it’s back to just cold, not freezing.  We turned on the heating this week, quite amazing to get to almost the end of January without heating.  Today there was blazing sunshine, so I walked again as far as Templehof, where children in snowsuits were pulling sledges along.  On the way back, I stopped in ALDI, which, in Ireland is usually considered to have better quality than LIDL, it’s sister-store (or brother-store, I should say – LIDL and ALDI were traditionally owned by rivalling German brothers).  Here, ALDI has oddly rundown stores, don’t carry everything you need, and have exceptionally rude staff (that usually means bad conditions).   Opposite ALDI is a strange business, I couldn’t figure out what it was – called “Zwiespalt”, it means something like “In Two Minds” and it was open 24 hours, for adults only.  I found out that it’s a sort of swinging club for bored marrieds.  You always imagine those places to be in the middle of town, not in a residential area, but I guess maybe you have a watertight excuse if you run into your boss there “Oh I must have the wrong place! I was looking for ALDI!”