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  • Dermo Breen

A Change from the Usual

It's Day 3.

No, it's not a film, it's real life. It has snowed consistently for three days here in my corner of Kildare. I've seen snow before. I've worked in Finland so I know real snow and real cold. This is different, eerily different.

Never have I heard an Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) appeal to people to stay indoors for 24 hours, to close all airports, sea-ports, colleges, banks, schools, essentially the whole country. Some would argue against this "nanny-state" mentality but in a way, it's strangely comforting. To hear our national leader, the voice of our nation say "We don't need any heroes" is something I only ever expected to hear from Tina Turner.

Still, here we are, in a country that has been closed down. I get it. Some don't. I'm thinking specifically of the idiots (or are they heroes?) who ignored the State's advice and headed out anyway only to become stuck in a snow drift and requiring the Emergency Services to divert from their important tasks to rescue boneheads.

It is a thing of beauty though. There is nothing like a snow-covered landscape, particularly an urban landscape. All hard edges and corners are removed and the world is suddenly a softer place, a whiter place. Nature manages to create shapes and contours that man could never recreate - the slopes, the angles, the soft peaks. Every holly bush becomes an ice-cream cone., every hill a child's downhill challenge.

It is magical. No matter how many years pass, seeing snow brings out the child in me, resurrects the old excitement of days off school, soaking wet mittens, chilblained fingers and the joy and the pain of snowball fights.

I never built a snowman. I mean, I attempted to build a snowman many times but in my childhood, there never seemed to be enough snow to do it properly. In these past few days I have seen wondrous creations, a credit to the imaginations that constructed them and to the parents who had to dry out all the wet clothes.

As I write, it's still snowing.

A large snowy overhang has fallen to the ground and silence pervades. I remember as a child waking to wonder if it had snowed and it was always the silence that gave me the first clue. While snow dulls edges, it also dulls the daily sounds of life. Traffic noise is muted or just not there. Children's laughter broken and far away. It's just the birds and the wind that remain.

It is an eerie, beautiful world that the snow creates.

It's Day 3.

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