Bigger & better
Our former winters used to be colder, longer and better. Even a child knows that.
And speaking about children: if you are too young to have experienced it yourself: we made snowballs bigger than ourselves. We didn’t have snowball fights, but ice ball wars. We used to ice-skate all the way to school and the ice hadn’t melted after school. In fact, it didn’t melt until spring time.
We were so used to that white stuff falling from the sky, we could quietly read a booklet while it was snowing. ‘Snow stress’ had yet to be invented.
Nowadays, the word snow is the trigger for my country to go crazy. Pleasantly crazy, but still. Normally, we talk about the weather all the time, but with the first frost coming up, any other subject just seems impossible. Newspapers head on horror winters and Siberian Bears only and try to outdo each other with the worst winterdoom scenarios.
Modern winters have become so rare and so short that you have to grab the slightest opportunity. So if you hear words like ‘wintery’, snow, frost, scratching, freezing or slipperiness, be prepared! Gloves; check, Grandma’s pea soup; check, crash course sledging; check.
And what about us, nature photographers? We already packed our gear last week in order to reach the snow area before dawn. The alarm clock is set on ‘ridiculously early’. With a blizzard like that, we can’t take any risks; the delay will be considerable. And walking in a snowstorm is challenging as well. So, no calm sleeping tonight. Instead, restless dreams about these wonderful arctic conditions. Trees white with hoar frost. Birds on frosted twigs. Foxes in a pile of snow. Skating hares and powdered bitterns. Boy oh boy, what a snow party it’s going to be!
Such amount of anticipation, of course, can only result in an inevitable anti-climax: The Great White Crying. The weather forecasts miscalculated a few kilometers and while our German neighbors are happily making their snow angels, we are sadly sitting here in our snow-free lowlands. “They promised it!” The fantasy of plowing through meters of thick snow and slithering over slippery roads with red-hot cheeks has been cruelly drilled into the ground. Those three stray flakes couldn’t decently cover a pancake, let alone satisfy a whole eager nation!
Every disadvantage …
Maybe our winters aren’t what they used to be, but as the famous Johan Cruijff used to say: ‘Every disadvantage has its advantage’. So ask yourself: The painful tingling when your fingers started to thaw…. Those blisters on your frozen feet because you had to ice skate the complete Mill Tour….. Scratching the car windows every morning… Turning into an ice cube in an attempt to photograph foxes in the snow…. Unavailable motorways. Frozen water pipes and a broken heating… Was it REALLY that great?!
New and improved winters
Admittedly; our new winters may be a bit lame, but ain’t it nice to start calm and slowly? No snow until lunch and no frost at all, so the roads are perfectly accessible. Once on the spot, there is an extremely photogenic snow shower that is in no way inferior to those old-fashioned blizzards. With the pleasant difference that it is a few degrees above zero. No one could tell the difference from your photos, but your hands and toes know it! For 2 days you photograph like there’s no tomorrow as temperature will rise quickly and spring will be knocking on the door very soon.
So…we still got the winters. You just have to click very a little faster….