Yesterday I spent a few hours out exploring in a blustery winter storm, enjoying the fact that fewer cars were harrassing me. The roads are a mess right now because of an unusual winter storm (nicknamed “the Beast from the East”), which has dumped snow on Ireland. Because this amount of snow is rare here, there are no plows (or very few…I didn’t see a single one in the past two days I’ve been out…when I asked an Irish friend if there are any plows in Dublin he said he saw a video of one online) to take care of it. It was funny because on Wednesday morning, when we had our first significant snow fall here in Dublin since my arrival (nearly a year ago now), I looked around for a snow shovel to clear the path, only to realize…we don’t own one!
Out and about, I saw people trying to clear the path with brooms (ineffective after many feet have packed the snow into ridges of ice) and even a leaf blower!
On Wednesday morning, I headed out the door with my bike…there were 20 cm of fresh, undisturbed snow sitting on the road, but I thought surely the main roads would be cleared. False! When I reached the main road, I found that the snow had been packed into a clear sheet of glare ice by hundreds of cars. This condition worsened as I worked my way into the city center…the more cars on the road packing it into ever more perfect glass-like ice.
Later that day, the conditions had improved slightly as the temperature peaked briefly above freezing, but everything in Dublin began to shut down for the next few days. I stopped by the grocery store, just to see, and they were completely sold out of bread, beef, and milk. It is a very interesting experience because I come from places where this amount of snow would be insignificant. I realize how spoiled I am that I assumed that plows would be out at 3 am clearing and salting the roads.
But the last time Ireland got this much snow was 1982, so why would they keep snow plows around for such a rare occurrence? It makes perfect sense intellectually, though I had to make an effort not to be grumpy about the roads being a mess. So instead, I am just enjoying this very different experience of snow, curious about everyone’s reaction to it…and that is always part of living somewhere new and different. 🙂