house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Growing Up with Snow

I wish I had grown up with the Aurora. To be one of those annoying people who glance out of the window - dazzling curtains of green, blue and white flaring across the night sky - and go 'mnnah', then back to watch two fat, tattooed women fight it out, on a TV chat show.

It snowed in Edinburgh last night. We squeezed ourselves into snow boots, hats and mittens; walked out, stiff and ponderous, like stepping out of the space capsule onto the third moon of Aakshi. I looked up, just for the feel of snowflakes melting on my lips; just to be blinded by white flurries, in the dark.

We jumped up and down because that's what you do, in first-snow. We regarded our footprints, and immediately tried to make them more fancy. Then we walked back inside and I heard myself:  mnnaah, you call this 'snow'? I turned into that annoying person whose stories start with 'where I come from', and never end.

We used to get really snowed in, where I come from - give it one blizzard, just one day and night, and snow was up to the lintel, we had to tunnel out of houses and carve a path to the woodshed. I remember dazzling mornings, trudging to school behind lines of strangers in heavy coats and Russian hare hats.  Left and right, walls of snow. A staggering silence made my temples thrum.  Some days I walked with a faint clink and crackle - but only after my fringe froze. 'So this is what ants are about...' I thought, lumbering on, while toes and fingers turned to ice.

I went to a girls' school that was now accepting boys. Very few such aliens had in fact enrolled, but they all waited with snowballs at the gate; their noses were dark-purple, their faces glistened with that purposeful glee of petty evil; nothing scared me more, not even Santa Claus. These urchins shrugged off alarming stages of frostbite to give each girl a personalised, commensurate reception: beauties and nerds fared worst.

We reached the classrooms with snow up our nostrils, icicles woven in our braids. We would then spend the day hunched at our desks, thawing very slowly, still in our coats and gloves. They never had enough logs to heat the school. Our breath hung in the air, between Latin conjugations, like the ghosts of Roman cohorts keeping watch over the grammar of their long-vanquished colony.

One day I shall see the Aurora but for now I remain one of those annoying people who grew up with snow.


At 18 January 2016 at 09:01 , Blogger Monica WM said...

Hey, it's happening again (where I come from)... and the snow outside my window melted overnight.


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