“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the
urge to throw a snowball.”
I hadn’t intended to write today. I’m trying to learn how to not over-do things, how to look after myself and my needs. One of those ways is to spend a little bit less time attached to my computer but then I wanted to tell you how important it can be sometimes to talk about the weather.
It snowed here in Christchurch, NZ on Wednesday (it’s Friday as I write). There was about 15cm of snow outside and while it was pretty to see it falling on Wednesday, the charm of it is lost very quickly when one has to venture outside. I had to do that several times on Wednesday as my heat pump (which runs like an air-conditioner) objected to the cold. The outside unit for it unfortunately sits right under where any water coming off my roof comes off. That’s because the house tipped slightly in the earthquakes, and that point just happens to be the lowest point of the roof now. There’s really no point having guttering when your house is on an angle. So anyway, snow and water drip off the roof onto the unit and it freezes. The unit can’t be covered because that affects the thermostat so right now there is nothing I can do but go and chip the ice off when necessary. I did that several times in the snow on Wednesday and quickly lost any sense that the snow was beautiful. Snow is great, until you have to live in it. Then I hate it. It is completely beyond me how people live in snow for months at a time.
Last year when it snowed I got out with my then 89 year old neighbour L and we shovelled the paths and driveway. This year it just wasn’t possible for either of us. Yesterday we both tried to ignore that we were trapped on the property but today I had to go out because I had completely run out of medication (and food). But still neither my neighbour or me were up to shovelling snow. His age is a good excuse and mine is that with fibromyalgia I know I could do maybe five minutes and then be ready to die (for the next few days).
I already knew that snow isn’t so great for old people. They tend to be unsteady on their feet and walking through snow and ice is just plain dangerous. For the last two days I have been talking on the telephone to my 84 year old mother trying to convince her that going out would be extremely unwise for her. Actually I think I went as far as saying she would be stupid. It’s not often I get to tell my mother she is stupid but I was incredulous that she would be wanting to go out. Thankfully she listened to me. Well sort of. She made it seem that it was her idea not to go out, but hey, I got the message across so I’ll let her believe she was wise.
Anyway back to my driveway. This morning I went out to survey the driveway (which has a decent slope at the end) and decide whether I could get the car down to the road. My now 90 year old neighbour wass outside enjoying the sun, and I noticed he was looking very happy. Sometimes he’s not, it always requires assessing his mood before I open my mouth. But this morning he was very happy. And he said to me “this snow is terrific!”.
I just couldn’t see how he, who likes to go out walking every day, could see three days trapped at home as terrific. He went on and he said “I’ve never seen snow like this before”. L told me he could remember snow from his childhood when he lived near the mountains, but this was the first time he had seen snow like this.
Actually he told me exactly the same thing last year. And we’ve been neighbours for nearly 10 years and he keeps on telling me each year that he’s never seen snow like this before. Now to be clear I should say that here in Christchurch, NZ we usually get snow once a year, maybe twice. So it’s not like we live with snow all winter (thankfully). But this morning he was just enjoying something that he didn’t remember ever seeing before. And actually it was really nice. I didn’t correct him. I know there would be no point but I also wouldn’t want to have taken his delight away. It was something simple, but it was making his day.
The funny thing was I got the car down the driveway and went on my way. I dropped in on my mother (also stuck at home for three days). I was telling her about L’s comment about never having seen snow before like it. I thought her memory was better than his, but then she freely announced to me that “I’ve never before seen snow falling in the daytime like that”. She had, if not any other time at least last year (because she told me the same thing last year). But she too was delighting in the snow. She had no memory of seeing it before either. She seemed convinced that snow only falls at night when she’s asleep. An interesting theory.
The thing that struck me is here are two old people living alone, who could have got down about the snow and the restrictions it was placing on them. They both could have focussed on the need for extra heating and what that would cost. But both were simply taking delight in nature. While they were looking at the simple things I was stressing out about getting through snow and ice, getting done the things I needed to get done, and worrying about not having the physical capability this year to get out there and clear the stuff. Actually their way, made so much more sense.
“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same
good things for the first time.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
- Satellite image shows extent of snow (stuff.co.nz)
- First snow of 2012 (amrylmalekphotography.wordpress.com)
- Christchurch begins to thaw out (nzherald.co.nz)