Someone flipped a switch. I know, because things don’t
happen like this in real life- usually you can see it coming. In Cape Town you always know. When pickled fish is
cooking and hot cross buns are lining supermarket shelves, you know that Easter
and winter is coming...
I have always loved sunshine. When I was younger, we had
a swing set in our yard, and in the late afternoon I would don shorts, sit on
the swing platform, stretch my legs and close my eyes. Swaying back and forth
with late afternoon rays embracing me was my idea of heaven. Well, until my
mother would call me in, saying the sun was bad
for me! Of course I know that now, but then my mind would always wander to
a world of an endless summer.
Summer child that I am, I have always wondered what snow would
be like. Sure, my father drove us to the mountains to see the snow a couple of
times, but then everyone had the same idea. Bumper to bumper most of the way,
by the time we arrived only patches of snow remained. Freezing, we wouldn’t
even get out of the car to actually touch it.
|Sunny day in the snow|
Then there was the time on a road trip- we were somewhere
between Kimberley and Oudshoorn when it started snowing. We threw the car doors
open before we even came to a halt. We were elated! Dancing, jumping up and
down- we probably looked crazy- but then everyone on the road stopped to do the
same thing. Hey, it’s not every day that it snows in South Africa!
My first taste of the real
thing was when I first visited Macedonia in 2012. It was late November and I
had seen on the news that it was about to snow. For about a week, I kept
running up to the window to check, but alas, no snow, just dreary overcast skies.
Then one week night, after 6 pm, I opened the door just to check- and sure
enough, I saw tiny flakes billowing to the ground.
|My FIRST Snowball!!!|
I immediately ran out, arms open, trying to catch
snowflakes. I watched as the patterned little ice sculptures silently fell to
earth. I was in awe. The dark evening
was calm and quiet, snow whispered down, and I was dancing around like a crazy
person- much to the delight of my soon- to – be in-laws.
I looked over and saw the family cat (who was also
experiencing his first winter) gingerly sticking a paw out to feel this new
thing- I always like to think of this as the moment we bonded.
I left for home a few days later, and even with the car
heater blasting I was freezing. It was -9°C (15°F) and I had never been that
cold. Still, I was thrilled.
|Frozen trees on Shirok Sokak|
So when I returned to Macedonia last year, I was excited
to spend an entire winter here and
experience my first white Christmas. I love
watching Christmas movies. The lights, the cheerfulness, even the snowball
fights- it always seemed so magical...
But it all a lie!
It started snowing on the 26th of December
(Boxing Day) and didn’t let up until the end of March. The few days that it
actually stopped, it was so cold, it felt like someone had locked me in a deep
freeze! This was not how it happened in the movies. No one ever looks cold.
I had my first snowy New Year’s Eve- and I’ll never
forget it for as long as I live...Because it was -18°C (-0.4°F)!
I repeat: minus
Brrr. I get the
chills just thinking about it. And to think, everyone here agreed that it was cold- but not as cold as usual. Apparently, it sometimes gets to
around -30°! I can’t even wrap my brain
So, what does
happen when you mix a South African with snow?
|Playing in the Snow|
It might cross your mind, that you were somehow
teleported into the Twilight Zone.
Into a parallel universe where space, time and your mind, is frozen over.
You might shed a few tears, because your social media
feeds will be filled with summer fun and beach days.
But most importantly, you’ll never forget the experience
of being completely immersed in silent white.
Your feet sinking and then crunching the almost feather-
like blanket. Inhaling pure, frost- bitten air. Mushing (and throwing) your
first snowball and looking out your window to discover a literal winter
Someone flipped a switch. Winter is coming and I am
moving on, but I will never forget my first true northern winter...
So tell me, do you prefer the cold? Or are you like me
and live for summer months?
Labels: Bitola, Macedonia, Snow, Travel