I miss snow of city childhood

Tracy Annenberg
Tracy Annenberg
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It’s difficult to think of the frozen north when I’m away on holiday in the hot sun.

OK, I can see snow out of the window from where I sit (the mountain on which I’ll ski later in the year dominates my view, and is snow- capped most of the year) but the difference between being able to see it and having it covering the garden and blocking the doorway is vast.

I miss snow. I know many people hate it, and I know it causes inconvenience when it arrives, but when you’ve grown up with it as a constant annual presence and then it’s no longer there it is strange.

The winter mornings of my childhood meant sliding my way to school. The memorable winter of 1976 meant school closed when Stocksbridge was cut off from the city – a wonderful few days to play in the snow.

I miss snowmen. I miss pulling on wellies and woollies, getting out my shovel to dig my way to the road. I even, slightly, miss the worry that a sudden fall may mean I’m stranded somewhere, or will force a long and tedious journey home at the pace of a glacier.

It snowed in Wellington in 2011. The previous time was in 1976. As the first flakes fell people rushed from homes and offices, yelling and brandishing cameras. Tiny scrapings were made into miniature snowballs and hurled amid shrieks at workmates. Most had never seen snow except maybe in the distance.

The following morning was chaotic. Sheffield has grit wagons, lots of them, Wellington has none. There’s not much need in a city that experiences sub-zero temperatures maybe a couple of times a year and then only low enough to cause a pale dusting of frost on a lawn or car.

Cars crunched their way along the road at a crawl. People slid their way along the pavement clinging to walls and lampposts. My neighbour naively poured boiling water over his car windscreen and almost broke his neck as he slipped on the spillage that had iced the path. By lunchtime it was all a memory. It’ll be back in 35 years.

It’s a half-hour drive from here to the skifield. I think I’ll slap on the sunblock and head up there – a couple of hours climbing should get me within reach of just enough snow for a small snowman.