Blizzards, films and new season stirrings – first published 12 February 2013

Not a day to be working on the roof
Not a day to be working on the roof

Almost half way through February 2013 and, just as I was looking forward to spring, new leaves and flowers, the winter proved it had a few more surprises tucked up its sleeve yet. A blizzard came out of nowhere and caught me out. There was a blizzard of a different kind the next day at work…

12 February 2013

This winter does not want to give up and lay down quietly for sure. Yesterday morning I was drinking my cocoa watching snow falling outside. It was melting as it landed on the wet ground so I think the Yak Trax will be staying in the bag for a while. One of the houses behind us is having some work done on the roof, there’s a great big hole and a poor workman was up there in his high-vis and hard hat working. I wouldn’t like his job for sure and I can’t begin to imagine how cold it must be inside the house.

Of course I had to get snacks for work so there was no staying in the warm and dry. It seemed to be getting worse as I made my way up the Big Hill with the snow in my face and the cars speeding past causing mini tidal waves in the puddles. The odd flake was settling on walls and plants but most were melting.

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By the time I came out of Sainsbury’s the flakes were fatter and falling faster. More of them were sticking to things too, not the roads or pavements but the trees and bushes, little drifts between wall and path. The ivy beside the school was slowly disappearing under the frosty white flakes. Even the cobwebs were getting a dusting. By the time I got to the corner I could see a light covering forming on the roofs of the houses. It seemed strange to see the pink petals trying to come out on a tree with snow swirling all about me. Looking down from the top of the Little Hill the city had disappeared behind a haze of white.

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Squeezing past Mattie Mtiz on the drive I looked out over the garden and the grass was beginning to disappear, it was getting worse and worse. Maybe the Yak Trax would be coming back out after all. When I got inside and caught sight of myself in the gym mirrors I bore a startling resemblance to a snowman. My hat and parka were thick with snow which was quickly melting in the indoor heat. The snow carried on falling until just after Commando got up, by which time it had turned back to light drizzly flakes. He looked out at the garden and said, “I didn’t see that coming, but it doesn’t look to bad.” I don’t think he believed me about the blizzard I’d been walking in earlier until I showed him the photos. Of course it was all melted in next to no time.

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As the forecast last night was for more snow I was quite surprised not to wake to a white world. Not that I was disappointed. Snow is stealth weather. Unlike the wind and rain that wakes you in the middle of the night pounding against the windows and whistling down the chimney it falls silently, its beautiful crystaline flakes like fluttering feathers covering the world in a blanket that looks as soft and comfortable as an eiderdown. It’s not warm and comfortable though, it’s cold, and treachourously slippery.

Fat is much the same, it sneaks up on you when you’re not looking, one teeny tiny layer at a time, so slow and gentle you don’t notice until one day you look in the mirror and see inches of the stuff. A couple of inches of snow on the ground covers all the imperfections of the city, the litter and the weeds, hides the point where road becomes pavement, grass becomes garden. In the same way a layer of fat hides bones and muscles, blurs the sharp lines. The city, just like the body, are still there underneath, waiting for the thaw.

Yesterday’s snow was short lived, melted as quickly as it came and, thankfully, didn’t come back. If only fat was as easy to get rid of. When I look in the mirror these days though I can see evidence of the thaw. Cheekbones, shoulder blades and ribs are there, just under the surface. I’m coming to the end of my journey. When the snow thaws and winter ends a new season begins, spring. My new season is maintenance and I can feel it in the air.

On the walk to work I had my eyes peeled for signs of spring stirring amongst the plants along my route. It’s always nice to see the first signs of the change of seasons and I wasn’t disappointed. Walking down the cutway to the water the daffodil shoots were poking through the ground in little green clumps, no flowers yet but it won’t be long I’m sure. Something was trying to fall from the sky as I started to make my way over the Big Bridge. It was hard to tell if it was rain, sleet or snow but, luckily, it didn’t last long and, by the time I started down the stadium road, it had stopped. On the edge of little estate the brilliant green of a Euphorbia flower caught my eye, poking through the railings. It must be a garden escapee but it is a sure sign that spring is on the way which made me smile. Going past the houses by the railway line I saw crimson shoots and buds on the Pieris in the communal gardens, another definite indicator of spring. I can see the walk to work is going to be filled with things to look at over the next weeks and months.

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After my chat with Arabella on Sunday I had a lot to get on with this morning but when I got to my desk I had things to sort out before I could even switch my computer on. The whole desk was piled high with packages. “Looks like Christmas,” Alice said, nodding her head at the teetering pile. The first two I opened were free DVD’s from SWANK, the people that provide the films for the ship (honestly I didn’t make that name like check if you don’t believe me). I don’t have time to watch TV never mind films so I offered them round the office.

The next was the palm crosses from the company I rang last week because they’d invoiced me for something I hadn’t ordered or received. Seems like they sent them out after I’d called to say I didn’t want them. If they think I’m paying to post them back they’ve got another think coming. Cheeky devils. There were a few random samples for Arabella, one of the ship Christmas presents returned by the Post Office because the passenger never picked it up and then a very interesting looking Jiffy bag.

The bag was huge, quite heavy and it was addressed to Arabella. As her assistant I was supposed to open it which was handy. The suspense would probably have killed Alice, never mind me, otherwise. When I tried to unstick the top edge the bag more or less exploded, not in a call the bomb squad way obviously, in a huge puff of Jiffy bag stuffing way. Those things are padded with some kind of mashed up paper fibre that floats everywhere and sticks to everything. It looked like there’d been a blizzard of grey snow confined to a very specific area, the one around me and my desk! I was wearing my dark maroon cords, a dark purple t-shirt and a raspberry coloured cardigan. Luckily I’d taken my black Jasper Conran jacket off and hung it on the back of the chair, it was protected from the fall out by my body. I could have done with a clothes brush to get the stuff off me, it stuck like kapok. Eventually, with a great deal of brushing with my hands I manged to get rid of the worst of it. Then I cleared the rest off my desk and got down to peeking inside the parcel.

Not quite this dramtic
Not quite this dramtic

It was quite bizarre. A huge photograph album with a black leather cover, filled with rather beautiful black and white shots of unidentified locations. Alice and I spent a while looking through trying to work out where they were taken. Some of them looked like Greek ruins but others looked like Carthage and the Tunisian coast. Possibly they were holiday snaps from a cruise many years ago but it would have been helpful to have some kind of note or at least labels on the photos. Hopefully Arabella will be able to solve the mystery when she comes back to the office.

At lunch time I went out for a walk. Confession time again I’m afraid, I didn’t plan it, at least not consciously, but I found myself in the vicinity of Costa Coffee. Of course I couldn’t help myself, I went in and got a take away coffee. This is not good and it cannot become a regular occurrence. It was nice though and it was the perfect accompaniment to my afternoon’s work, choosing the films for the next set of cruises. When I spoke to Arabella I’d reminded her she had to pick the films as we needed to order them this week. Her answer to that was, “Could you choose them for me this time? I think you’ve ordered enough now to have a good idea of what we want. As long as you’re comfortable with that.” What could I say. It was a bit like being passed the poison chalice.

Choosing films sounds like a fun job right? Wrong! Our passengers are discerning in their choice of viewing, there’s a list as long as your arm of things they don’t like. We get books every month from SWANK with lists and synopses of the latest releases but usually you can discount the majority. No sex and violence, no bad language, no children’s films or music films (unless you’re talking classical music) nothing too frivolous. Think about it, what is left? So, over my latte I spent about two hours going through the last few books and Googling trying to find twenty suitable films. This was not an easy task, especially as we’ve used most of the decent ones so many times since I started I thought the crew might mutiny if they had to put up with them again.

Eventually I managed to find twenty, some of them even had relevance to the destinations in the next few cruises. I slipped in a few old classics in the hope they’d be well received by viewers whose average age is high sixties upwards. Now I have to sit back and wait to see if SWANK have them all in stock. Oh yes, and I hope when the questionnaires come back they don’t slate the movie choices too badly. That would probably not go down too well!

The snow held off for the walk home too and tonight I had company. Gail was walking so we walked together. It really does make the walk go faster having a bit of friendly conversation. At least that will have more than worked off the skinny latte.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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