Monday, February 13, 2012

Follow the Yellow Whizz Road

Much has been made in the news recently of the Big Freeze affecting Europe, and Geneva is most certainly caught up in it.

We had a pretty thorough snow fall over two-and-a-half weeks ago that is still lingering on the ground, despite no extra falls since then. However with the arctic winds and the temperatures staying in the minus double-digits, the fluffy white stuff has either iced up or been blown to smithereens.

Dad confirmed that no, not even in Aberdeen, when we regularly faced the North Sea squalls and wind fresh from the Russian steppes, did we have temperatures like those we're currently experiencing here in Switzerland. I remember my mother hanging up some bedsheets to dry in the glass-house overlooking the railway line and snapping a corner off the following morning as though it was a toffee shard.

Here in Geneva, the edges of driveways and footpaths are all lined with stubborn snow. Carved by temperature, squalls and time, they each resemble jagged white rocks proudly personifying the hardy survivors of a freeze that has seen cars so iced up by the edge of Lac Leman that their owners have been instructed by the council to forget about them until March. The narrow letterbox view afforded me between the beanie pulled down over my eyebrows, scarf pulled up to my nostrils and neck puffed up with two hoodies showed that the 'rocks' look rather formal and as though they'd been deliberately arranged and painted.

Up close is a different matter and, as the days roll wind-chillingly by, the 'rocks' are now yellow from the frequent and regular whizzings of the neighbourhood dogs. Milly has given up investigating these canine stories and just adds her own on top, trotting away as her contribution steams its presence before freezing into the rest. Heaven help the hygiene of the place should there be a sudden drop in temperature.

The ground now revealed underneath the ice is bone dry, as is the air we walk through, breathe and live in. As a born-and-raised South Aussie gal used to 'dry' heat of 43C in summer that sucks the moisture from your eyeballs the moment you step out of the back door, this wintry, cold-snap dryness is a new one.

There's a tickling on my lips when I'm out in the mornings with Milly. It feels as though some tiny bugs want to settle there. I brush them away ineffectually with my gloves and it's only afterwards when treated to a view of myself in the lift's mirrors that I see that the 'bugs' are in actual fact just thin strips of dangling skin. Having never been endowed with Angelina Jolie-like lips, it now appears that my two Kenneth Branagh pencil lines have enough material to transform themselves from a slashed cakehole entrance to a peeling fringe.

Further examination shows the salty trails of tears that have since dried up in the wind. I'm not the only sad bugger out on the streets. Everyone else is crying too, dabbing at their eyes before the howling breeze whips the tissue out of their hands and sends it on to Paris. I've had more conversations with passersby during this cold snap than in any other time during my seven months here. It's not particularly eloquent though - usually we wipe the moisture from our eyes and an involuntary "Oooofff!" escapes us as we react to yet another breeze that punches the kidneys and shreds the mouth.

The worst effect, however, is not my small-shaped head looking like a grey polar-fleece penis in its beanie, nor my torso as a parka-covered homage to the Michelen Man. It's my nose.

Little did I know it, but the animated conversation I had with Francine in the park as her beloved black lab again attempted to hump Milly was conducted with frozen snot smeared across my cheek in a wind-blown zig-zag a drunken snail would have been proud to call its own.

Ah winter. The perfect opportunity to hide one's flab but not one's fluids.


Anji said...

Ours is melting now. We thought it was cold here but that sounds much worse

Read and be read ExposeYourBlog!

Kath Lockett said...

It's 'melted' here too, I guess but the temperatures haven't risen and the air is still incredibly bitter. Walking outside without a scarf or a beanie is just begging for a hacking cough and your ears to drop off!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

We had bad snow for the last two winters when the Siberian conditions drifted West. But this year its been mild.

Our worst temperature last year was -18 degrees C - this year in Manchester -7 - I can (just about) cope with that.




Kath Lockett said...

Minus seven is OK for a couple of days but three weeks of that being a 'maximum' is wearing thin now.

I have a great ski jacket, lovely warm boots, hat etc, but the area of my body from the knees to the thigh is at the mercy of denim only and yep, I've got chillblains there now - I didn't think that such a condition existed outside of Charles Dickens' novels!

nuttynoton said...

Like PM we have only just been -9c unlike last year where it was -16c but it was not dry then, but this year it felt colder, not sure if it was the wind or what, glad temperatures have moved to above freezing point today, my finger ends on the Motorbike have been so cold even with heated grips that I have had to buy some more protection! Your description of bodily fluids is so flattering! Hope it warms up soon so you no longer look like Michelin man.One good thing you can just pull the snot off and put it in the bin!

FruitCake said...

Note to self: Avoid Europe in Winter.

Andrew said...

Maybe I should stop complaining about our weather. Love the car photo. I suppose it will be ok.

Cat J B said...

Oh my! Beautiful sunshine out my window, a balmy heading-for-28-degrees, cicadas, all windows open......coming back for a visit any time soon Kath? :)

diane b said...

hee hee giggle giggle. I shouldn't laugh because it sounds like purgatory but you make it funny to read, especially as I sit here in T-shirt and shorts in warm humid air but not too hot . I remember having icicles hanging from my fringe. Hope it warms up soon.

The Elephant's Child said...

Perhaps I should stop having jealous thoughts about those people in the northern hemisphere who are experiencing my favourite time of year. I love winter, but am aware that ours is a pretty wussy, frozen snot free version.

wilbo43 said...

I guess a consolation is you don't neet a freezer, just stick everything outside the kitchen window, but maybe not the beer.

River said...

I hate the heat we have here, but I'm still so very glad I'm not there with you. Cooler weather is nice and I prefer it, but not that freezing your lips off temperature!
I hope things begin to warm up for you soon. But beware of icy roads, paths etc, if it thaws a little then refreezes!
I can't offer any solutions for the nose, unless.....hmmm.....oh, okay...there's an asian woman who used to shop at Norwood who had a nose problem and her solution was cotton plugs (that looked like cigarette filters) stuffed up her nostrils and protruded by a half centimetre or so. We'd all be (mentally) gagging and trying not to be the one who had to process her groceries.....

River said...

Oh, and get some quilted pants to insulate those thighs.

Ann O'Dyne said...

oh poor Millie.
For your eyes, would ski goggles help?
from news today:
The 10 most expensive cities are:
Osaka Kobe

JahTeh said...

I knew we should have shipped those ugh booties for Millie. Extreme cold like this would be an invitation for Mr Migraine to visit me. The only time I've been to the snow my head has felt as though it was put in a vice and squashed.

Pandora Behr said...

I like the cold, but not that cold. Hope it comes back to the realms of cool soon.

great post.

Greg said...

I do like the last line. I prefer the winter clothing style in which I look quite impressively big and strong. Come summer though, without the camouflaging clothing the style is more like 'fat and friendly'.

Helen Balcony said...

Oh please! I was eating lunch while I read that... oh well, serve me right, bad habit!

Jayne said...

Ahhh, maybe you shouldn't read my latest post where I whined about shifting my menopausal arse into the nearest freezer lol.
Love your graphic descriptions, I can picture the drunken snail scrawl down your cheek LOL.

Ann O'Dyne said...

Sophia Loren lives in Geneve, and i think Tina Turner does too. Do keep an eye out and report back any sightings. X X

Kath Lockett said...

Nutty, if I'd known the snot was there, I'd have pulled it off - like fine toffee shards!

Wise move, Fruitcake :)

Andrew, apparently the car(s) frozen at the edge of the lake will be OK but I don't know how it would affect the rubber on the tyres of the body's paintwork....

CatJB, we get a 'two year' home visit, so *sob* not for a while yet....

diane_b, my fringe isn't long enough for icicles. If it was, it might have hidden the snot!

E-Child, it is indeed. It's thawed out now and is a sunny and balmy 6C which is really rather nice. My friend is about to come over for coffee which we'll have outside on the balcony.

wilbo43, you're right - but even the watering can that I keep out there for the plants froze and then split the container open and the marauding pigeons might eat the ice-cream....

I do have ski pants River and feel rather foolish that it didn't occur to me for a single second to wear them when out walking with Milly.

Ann O'Dyne I can see that we've swapped the expense of Melbourne for the shocking cost of Geneva..... will we end up having a financial heart attack in Zurich?

No visit from Mr Migraine due to the weather, JahTeh. He seems to be sticking to a monthly schedule where he then stays for three very long and unwelcome days.

Thanks Greg. "Fat and friendly" pretty well sums things up for me, too!

Sorry Ms Balcony - maybe I should preface these sort of blogs with a 'Do not read whilst consuming food or beverages' at the start?

Jayne, your 'menopausal arse' would be too numb for you to remember over here!

Ann, I think that they both live in Zurich. Which probably explains the expense. Phil Collins and wife/brood number three are locals here though.