The first dust of snow settled on Market Street last week, and suddenly the town is in panic mode. Classes were off, Tesco is all out of bread and milk, and the streets are bare, as students stay tucked in bed (or use it as an excuse to party, myself included…). The town has transformed under a blanket of snow.
Except now, it’s sludge. As my friend and I braved the blizzard for our beloved Blackhorn burgers, we laughed at how the UK handles situations like this. Having lived in America, we both understand what a “snow storm” brings. Two weeks after I moved to Connecticut, the snow was stacked so high up our back door that we could not leave; after buses screeched precariously round corners, school was shut for a week and a half; we had no hot water, nor power!
However, this did not stop the town in which I lived from prevailing. People managed to get to the gym, to the store to stock up on hummus and the other essentials, and generally went about their daily lives. We laughed about this as we trekked in the wind and rain-snow for our dinner date. St Andrews snow wasn’t stopping us!
The UK faces many major climate issues, the flooding last year being a major distress, and leaving people homeless. Living on a peninsula only accessible by boat, I am all too familiar with the early morning phone call to say that boats were cancelled and – alas! – we could not get to school. The sea once came halfway up our drive, but instead of living in lockdown mode, my parents bundled us up and we walked, arms linked, as the wind made the dark, spitting waves roar and claw their way into the ground. Storms are beautiful.
My friend and I talked about how, maybe, the roads just need to be gritted, snow needs to be shovelled, and, with a bit of bundling up of hats, scarves, a good jumper, and gloves, people can continue with their daily routines. Instead, the library shut, the gym closed early, stores did not open, and the queue in Tesco was almost a mile long.
Of course, it’s not that easy – we just aren’t as equipped as many US states (for example) to handle weather like this. It is a small amount of snow, some wind, and it is bitter cold, but that doesn’t make it any safer for people to drive to work. The university is taking precautions not because it cannot handle the weather, but in order to avoid tragic accidents.
I remember driving back from a skiing trip with my Dad, in Massachusetts. As we inched along the road in the car, I asked him every moment: “are you scared yet?” He replied with gritted teeth as he tried to avoid skidding off the – barely visible – road. But we are safe in our homes and with our heat; give a moment to think about those people on the streets at this time, and how they are feeling. The fingers of the man playing flute outside Ryman today were red and raw, and it is important not to forget those that must brave this weather, even as we have fun.
So, remain safe and enjoy the snow days. It gives us a chance to catch up on work (and sleep), socialise, and see the town in a beautiful blanket of white. Students are skiing, having snowball fights, and making the most out of the lack of lectures. The snow, coincidentally, fell at the same time as strikes; despite my ever-increasing to-do list next to me right now, I am enjoying an extra hour or two wrapped in duvets and drinking tea. An embodiment of everything I love, one of my favourite people once said: “You, me, donuts, coffee, standing out in a snowstorm.” (Thanks, Lorelai.)