I can’t remember when I was last able to touch snow. Forecasters often promise snow down to ‘so many metres’ overnight. Your hopes rise that you may just wake up to it one morning soon – only to be dashed.
Sometimes I feel we’d be better off if we relied on the principle of Banjo Patterson’s poem, “Frying Pan’s Theology”. I have always had a soft spot for this delightful little poem about a conversation between an aboriginal man (called Frying Pan) and a young boy on a pony, which goes like this:
Snowflakes are falling gentle and slow,
Youngster says, “Frying Pan what makes it snow?”
Frying Pan, confident, makes the reply –
“Shake ‘im big flour bag up in the sky!”
“What! When there’s miles of it? Surely that’s brag.
Who is there strong enough shake such a bag?”
“What parson tellin’ you, Ole Mister Dodd,
Tell you in Sunday-school? Big pfeller God!
“Him drive ‘im bullock dray, then thunder go;
Him shake ‘im flour bag – tumble down snow!”
Last week my luck changed – the flour bag was emptied on Tasmania. I was staying at my mother’s house in Hobart – you know, the one with the amazing view. Waking on Monday (3rd August) to the ABC news at 7.00 am, I sensed something was different! Outside it was really quiet. The radio reported that roads and schools across much of Tasmania were closed, with many people unable to get to work. I jumped out of bed – finally those forecasters had delivered what they had been promising for days!
Looking out of the bedroom window everything was blanketed – the camelias were hanging low, the glossy green leaves just visible through the white ‘icing’. Donning several layers of clothes, I ventured out to the kitchen windows where I hoped to see the hills on the other side of the river dusted with snow. WOW!
Not only were the hills opposite white, but mum’s deck, table and chairs, pot plants, lawn, roof…..everything was white! Hobart hasn’t had snow lying at water level since 1986. The sunrise was so beautiful – pinky-orange swirly clouds emerging from the snowy, VERY wintry sky to the south-east (where even deeper snow lay on the hills).
Bravely – or stupidly – I made my way up mum’s very steep driveway with probably not the best footwear for this ‘expedition’. First attempt (from the garage) was aborted when, after 2 steps, I started sliding backwards. Oh dear – wouldn’t be able to get the car out for a while – even if I needed to. A second attempt was successful – via the scenic route, from the front door, up 4 steps, across the little garden bed, to the upper level of the driveway. (That ‘little garden bed’ is the one mum is always telling us to “mind where we put our feet as my precious plants are in that bed”. But today it was all white – and mum wasn’t home – so I could put my feet wherever I wanted). The slow progress to the top of the hill onto Sandy Bay Road was pretty scary – sometimes two steps forward, one slip backwards. But the ice seemed to be disappearing – especially where the neighbour had driven out to work (after building the snow man on his deck with his little daughter). Eventually I made it to the main road.
Another world awaited me here and I was like a 6 year old again – it was really exciting to see the cars parked over the road absolutely covered, barely able to see what colour they were, and the heavy snow bending the branches of the trees.
Deciding in which direction the footpath would be least treacherous was my biggest dilemma for the day! Tried going north – no way, broken wrists came to mind! So I picked my way south. The only traffic coming from the south was covered in inches of snow and seemed to be mostly 4WDs. I kept walking – gingerly – until a new stretch of footpath proved too much for my inept shoes. But I had seen enough of the timbered hills leading to Mount Nelson to understand why so many roads and schools were closed.
Early morning walkers, usually in leggings, t-shirts and runners, were today in thick jumpers, jackets, scarves and hiking boots – their dogs not so lucky. People waiting on bus stops were disappointed as the buses didn’t come – until much later. Neighbours were out chatting to each other, hopeful drivers scraped the snow off their windscreens, and the odd cyclist made terrifying progress towards the city.
Sensible to turn back while still in one piece. Shaking the snow off the morning newspapers, (what a brave paper delivery person!) I headed to the first corner – woops, ice – went to the outside of the corner, then VERY carefully made it half way down the driveway….then it started to snow! Not heavily – just pretty swirling confetti, peaceful and so pretty. Ironically, the sun was out at the same time so the snow flakes didn’t settle. It was surprisingly warm – no wind, no chill factor – my gloveless hands were warmer than they are at present typing this on my keyboard!
Unfortunately I did not get to see “round the corner” to Mount Wellington, the city and surrounding hills. But, thanks to Facebook, I soon had a photo of our farm at Ouse, in the upper Derwent valley, taken by the farm overseer. It looked stunning – a real winter wonderland.
I was certainly lucky to be in the right place at the right time. It has been a talking point for at least a week for most Tasmanians. We are used to snow on the mountains and higher hills, but not on the sandy beaches very often (some hardy surfers who went out that morning, left footprints in the snow not the sand, on the way into the water!)
It was a beautiful morning – one of those infrequent moments of wonder.