On a Personal Note: It’s spring! (Probably.)

It’s the month of March, when thoughts turn to daffodils, Easter eggs and spring-cleaning. The last thing you expect is a sudden snowfall which blocks roads and buries garden gnomes — although burying garden gnomes is something I would happily do at any time of the year.

The most confusing thing about the whole business is that most of the winter was quite mild, and the last couple of weeks have been positively spring-like. My scarf is falling to pieces — this is definitely its last winter — and I was already planning a funeral service for it. And then the snow came.

I was at the language school in Hanau, preparing a lesson, looking out of the window (I do a lot of that when preparing lessons) and realised that very possibly almost an inch of snow had fallen since lunchtime. As one of my wife’s colleagues says, if a snowflake so much as lands on its edge in Hanau, the whole province of Hesse grinds to a halt, so the scenes outside were predictably chaotic. I wasn’t surprised to get a call from my student, saying he was snowed in and couldn’t make the lesson.

I made my way home and called my wife to warn her of the road conditions. “Don’t be silly,” she said, “there’s hardly any snow here.” An hour later she called me back asking if the roads were still passable. Yes they were, I reassured her. Why was she calling? “We have about ten centimetres of snow over here…”

None shall sleep.

At least now the snow-plough driver has something to do. For the last two or three years, we haven’t had any decent snowfall, and the guy whose job it is to keep the roads clear has been bored to tears. Last winter, the moment a snowflake touched down, he was out with his monstrous machine, scraping the huge plough along the road (sparks flying, you know the kind of thing), spraying salt everywhere and flashing his little yellow flashing light. The village isn’t very big, so he used to come past about every 90 minutes all through the night: rumble rumble, scrape scrape, flash flash. Any city-dweller who thinks the countryside is quiet and restful hasn’t spent winter in our village.

But this time he actually had some challenging work to do. He had to wait until it stopped snowing, and then it took him most of the night to clear all the through roads. Peace at last.

Incidentally, in case you’re worried, my wife made it home at her usual time. The main problem for her is not the snow, it’s all the people who don’t know how to drive in the snow and end up completely stuck and blocking the road. Please bear this in mind if you ever have to drive through our village during a heavy snowstorm.

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