• Lara Flanagan

Winter Wonderland

Updated: Feb 28


It is funny how wherever you are in the world, the weather is something that is always in the forefront of people’s minds.  At home it is generally the heat.   Most of Australia is obsessed with heat.  How hot it is going to get.  How humid it is going to be.  At what stage will your car seats remove skin from your bum and the seat belts leave third degree burns.  In Tenterfield the cold is another obsession and in winter we are on constant frost watch and I suspect that everyone prays for snow to fall.   In Costa Rica whilst I was there, it was about the rains.


People spoke constantly about the rain, whether it was normal for that time of year, how much rain would fall, how hot it would be afterwards.  Rain, rain, rain.  I was there for the once in a 50 year event when the ocean swept away the trees and seemed to consume the coastline.  Then we watched as the country was on Hurricane Watch for the three days that Otto approached the coast.   It is a reminder that so much in our world is out of our control.  Cyclones.  Bush fires. Floods.  In a moment everyone is equal as nature wreaks indiscriminate havoc on some part of the world.


Since our return to the States for Christmas it has been about the cold.   I must admit I loved coming back to the States and being cold.  The cold for me, even after 4 winters in Tenterfield is a treat.  Growing up in South East Queensland I dealt with constant summers that leave you no escape from the heat. Where you cannot get cool and five minutes after a shower you are as hot and sweaty as when you stepped in.  Summers can sometimes gross me out.   There comes a time when you can smell yourself and I don’t find that particularly pleasant.  Winter however, offers a change to rug up.  It is so much easier to warm up than to cool down.  I love fires and having a wood-pile.  I love my winter uniform and I even love crawling into my bed at home with three doonas and occasionally a beanie on my head.  As my winter uniform consists of jeans or leggings I also can allow my winter coat to grow and I throw my razor away. I often muse to myself that it is no wonder that I am single.


In this part of the world I have now been introduced to the Polar Vortex.  The Polar Vortex sounds so dramatic.  I thought I would leave my alter ego of Lara Croft behind in Costa Rica dealing with the Volcanic Ash.  But she is back wearing very cool boots, a white fluffy eskimo coat of some description and she allows me to wander the streets of Providence in the morning muttering things like, “Polar Vortex, what fucking Polar Vortex.  I don’t have time to deal with this shite when I am dealing with the fucking Polar Vortex.”   At some stage I added the Siberian Express.  I am genuinely not sure if I made that up or heard it on the news.   But I have images of the very svelte Lara Croft in my head riding the Siberian Express and heading into the Polar Vortex.  Life is constantly a party in my mind.


The reality of course is quite different to the world in my head.   On the morning that the Polar Vortex was actually threatening I was prepared.  I had some fleece lined leggings.  Fleece lined leggings always crack me up.  I can’t but help imagining my crutch bursting into flames.  Don’t ask me why, childish I know.  However they are very warm when you are dealing with minus 16 degrees celsius.  So I had my crutch warming fleece lined leggings, a pair of tracksuit pants, winter socks, a long sleeve black stretchy top, two puffy jackets and another jacket that appears to have silver foil on the inside.  On top of that I added a scarf, gloves, balaclava and a beanie.  I think I am Lara Croft but in reality I was looking like a little sumo wrestler as I headed out the door on the morning of the Polar Vortex.   A thing of beauty is a joy forever.


I expected more from the Polar Vortex.  I wanted to be thrown about by the wind, I wanted to return like a warrior with icicles hanging off my lips and eye-brows.  I wanted to be shaken to the core.  Instead I was feeling like I was slightly overdressed.   I am sure there is worse to come in January, as now I feel like I have issued a challenge to the Polar Vortex. “Is that the best you have got, bring it on you bastard.  Bring it on.”  I am fully open to the fact that I will have to accept the fact that I am a plonker when I am blown away by the cold in January.

The Polar Vortex may well have left me expecting more but our second snowfall fulfilled every little fantasy I have inside my head.  It started snowing on Friday night and we awoke to a winter wonderland.  We had already had one minor snow fall which had been wonderful but waking up on Saturday morning was pure magic.   Even with the winter wonderland the kids had no desire to go walking with me.  I suspect now that we look at each other at 6am like we are freaks.  I have no understanding of why they do not want to walk with me and look at them like they are little turkey heads.  They have no understanding of why I want to go walking every bloody morning even in the Polar Vortex and they look at me like I am a moron.  I say nothing because they are going to have to suck it up like little princesses when we are again on our own.   I may even extend my walk to 90 minutes just for their benefit.  Anyway, I digress.   Walking in the snow was pure magic.


The silence is what got me first.  Everything was so quiet – it was like the blanket of snow had absorbed the noise.  There was little traffic and what cars there were on the road, were driving at a snail’s pace.  The joggers all must have stayed in bed and I saw no other walkers.   I loved the crunch of the snow, the feeling of sinking down and the fact that mine were the only footprints I saw.  Everything looked extraordinarily beautiful.  I felt like I had stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia.  The White Witch better watch out as I was Lara Croft.  An elegant and graceful Lara Croft in the snow.


I had taken a different route on my snow morning as I feared it might be a bit icy down by the river and I did not think it was a good idea to walk in a place that on a snow morning would feel a little isolated. I chose to explore instead, the grounds of the  hospital and then I I visited my observatory.   It is always a very smart thing to do to pick a walk that you are not too familiar with on a morning when you are experiencing the heaviest snow you have ever seen.  At some stage I thought to myself that I may well be lost.  I then thought how easy it would be too fall, break my leg and then be covered in snow. I imagined myself languishing on my white and wintry death bed slowly being covered by the falling snow flakes until I resembled nothing more than a pile of leaves.


Then I remembered I lived off Hope Street and all I had to do was find Hope. I remembered one of my mottoes and stopped worrying.   Life will always be ok when you live off Hope.


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