It’s blizzard time. Looking out the window, white snowflakes swirl and dance aimlessly. There’s chaos in the air – or, as one might say, drama – in the shape of little white flakes.
I see a mum pulling a pram in the snow in our courtyard. Her steps are the first to brake the soft, smooth blanket. She’s doing her pram workout in a smart way, walking backwards, pulling the pram.
This is bringing back a memory that I can fondly play in my head now that enough time has past for the sweat to have dried. It must’ve been the first winter my kids were at daycare: they were one and a half years old.
We already had lots of snow but on top of it, a blizzard. I had a whole park to cross with my heavy double stroller with winter covers, two big little boys wearing half their wardrobe, bags of extra clothes and diapers and whatnot. The stroller was heavy and hard to manuever even without snow and we later ended up trading it for a lighter model. But this first one was what I was stuck with that day. Literally – we got stuck in the snow.
I was pushing and pushing, watching people go past me. Some were pulling plastic sleds, and that’s what I do in snowy weather now, because it’s a great way to get my 5-year-olds to get to daycare on time. They are happy to be pulled and I get a workout. But this day, 4 years ago, I was struggling to get forward in the snow.
Some parents walking past me shouted little lines of encouragement. Some said something sympathetic. And finally, someone told me something useful. They said I should turn the pram around and pull it. I was doing it the hard way without noticing!
Turning the pram around, however, wasn’t easy either, since I was almost knee-deep in snow. At some point, I had to lift my kids out and put them in the snow, where they hovered like miniature Michelin men. If you’ve ever seen Nordic toddlers in winter gear, you’ll know how cute they look. They could barely move at all. But the snow was almost as tall as the kids and I was close to panic at this point. What if they lose their balance, tip over and sink into the snow?
Somehow, we made it to daycare, and now it’s just another memory of a precious moment in life that’ll never return.
Sometimes, a blizzard can look like a postcard, or it can be accompanied by a coldness that makes your eyeballs hurt. The little white flakes attack you horizontally and you have to look at your feet when you walk.
Some 30 years ago, during winter holidays, I’d fly up north to the town of Oulu to visit my grandmother who had only recently moved back from Australia. Those trips always included Finnish macaroni casserole, lots of word games, and long, pampering baths, after which I’d dry myself in her large, fluffy Australia towel. The trips also included, without fail, a blizzard and theatre tickets.
They were connected, because the worst blizzard day always coincided with our theatre day. We’d walk with the wind blowing against us, leaning forward in an attempt to move in the right direction. Slow steps in the snow, boots heavy, laughing at the struggle. And then we’d arrive at the theatre, indoors, and all was calm.
My grandmother had to get up early for work, so at night, I’d stay up late alone. Nothing much was on Finnish TV back then except old Hollywood movies and musicals, and so I’d watch them and indulge in chocolate. And then I’d fly back home again, an unaccompanied minor with her ticket hanging in a plastic pouch on her neck, and a tiny plane, shaking in the wind. Blizzards don’t cancel flights, school, appointments, or anything else over here. It’s business as usual.