It showed in central London
today. I’m trying to get past the "wow this so new" reaction, but I’ve been looking out of windows and grinning all day.
I explained to my colleagues that yes, it does snow in South Africa (on mountaintops) but no, never ever in Cape Town. Johannesburg gets ground frosts at night in winter but is very dry at that time of year.
Let me list for you all of my prior encounters with snow.
1) Those rare clear winters mornings at the University of Cape Town, you can see right across the Cape Flats to the faraway mountains, suddenly white-capped.
2) Hiking in the Drakensberg, climbing up to the sheath of old, melting snow under a cold blue sky. We made a snowwoman. That evening, camping under an overhang, a party of hikers came part. They thanked us for the snowman. They said it had really boosted their morale after being snowbound in the high mountains for days (!)
3) Newcastle-on-Tyne. Visiting relatives in the North of England ten years ago. The night rain turned white for a few minutes, but stayed wet.
And that's it. Not a lot. Until today. The night’s frost deepened into grey skies, feathery flakes swirling around, growing and growing as I went to work. Snowflakes taste of nothing but cold and air. I blinked when they got in my eyes. I caught them with my gloved hands, crossing at the pedestrian crossing with all the apathetic commuters. Busses had a grid pattern on their roofs of melt and freeze.
By lunchtime it was inches thick. Heaviest snowfall here in London in ten years, they say.
SharQ had four feet of it in Norway and is sick of it. I can see how he can feel that, but the first time is great.
At lunch I was determined to run an unnecessary errand just to get out there. That wasn’t needed. Two colleagues invited me to join them in the park (just a small square, but has trees and grass). Snowball fight!!! Then we made a snowwoman. The snow makes these powdery crunching sounds when you pack it.
After lunch, as we left the park, the snowfall stopped. Then gradually it went soft, puddles on the damp roads where the traffic wore it down, peaks on the architecture where it was untouched.. There were still white lumps and slippery packed slush all over the place when I walked home. The untouched churchyard was a virginal bed of powder. The main roads were pushed clear by the traffic, but the infrequent traffic on the side streets has succeeded only in packing them down, making it very slippery.
Now, at night, it looks like it has frozen properly again, turning roads and sidewalks into icing sugar ice-rinks, the tarmac covered in an invisible shield of dirty and frictionless hard-packed soft-serve. No doubt it will melt tomorrow during the day.