“Ireland is gripped in the worst snow storm it has seen in 36 years!”[i] In fairness there is evidence to back this up, I’m not disputing the accuracy of the headlines, more the panicked frenzy it caused here. Brennan’s bread (sliced loaf to those of you who are unfamiliar with this brand), sold out, along with milk, in multiple supermarkets country wide. My dear friend is referring to it as the Sneachtpocalypse which of course, is in jest. The country is basically closed down for the next couple of days. Seriously, a friend of mine from Portugal was due to fly today to visit, and he had to cancel his trip.
In the midst of the panic though, brought on by the usual unpreparedness of the Irish government and civil services, people are finding some joy. Snowmen are being built, and children along with dogs are experiencing their first snow ever (which could be true if they were born after 2010, our last snow). The general feeling of snow day reigns merry and bright. Some people even broke out their Christmas lights again, no joke, and are enjoying their white Christmas. Each to their own, I guess.
So it is with great tentativeness, (like the time I announced to my boyfriend that I don’t really like pancakes), that I tell you, I hate snow. Honestly, I cannot understand why people over the age of 12 like it. It’s horrible, cold, and wet for one thing. It causes dangerous disruptions to vital services such as healthcare and charities. It also comes in March, when the spring should be here and I should be full of the latter. It is of my opinion that snow should be one of those things, like spiders, that cause a natural unease within our reptilian brain. Snow = bad right? Surely? It would have been hard for our ancestors to find food and suitable shelter. We couldn’t keep fires lit for warmth, while the young and infirm would have died off. So why are we obsessed with this white death when it arrives on our shores? Surely not just because it’s pretty.
Whenever I am stumped by something like this, I consult my friends. The Books and Journals of course. So here is what I found if you are at all interested. You may click away now if you think I will be unbiasedly weighting the pros and cons of snow. In my opinion it’s all CONverse all-stars from here! I have a wonderful tome, (and I mean tome), called “Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference,” by Richard Overy. Now most of this book’s life was spent as a table for my laptop as I sat on bed, or for my straighteners before I got a flame retardant case. However it came in handy today! So regarding Ice Ages, “the human species today is the product of this long process of adaptation to the carried conditions of the Ice Ages.”[ii] According to the book, “the height of the last Ice Age or LGM (last glacial maximum) was reached about 20,000 years ago. As the ice expanded, the human populations contracted into a small number of more favourable habitats.”[iii] Quite rightly so. We are not build to survive such inhospitable weather. So why does the sight of snow storms not cause the existential dread that forced our ancestors to flee to more suitable climes?
Well the book goes on to further say, “Agricultural settlement spread in a broadband from northeast France to southwest Russia on soils produced by the weathering of loess – a highly fertile windblown dust laid down during the Ice Age.”[iv] Ok, touché receptacle of knowledge. Perhaps within the human mind we see snow as the beginning of an era of renewal. A time for the Earth to rejuvenate. So now what?
Most scientist who deal with weather, will tell you, snow is bad. It’s disruptive and people often don’t fully understand the danger it causes, leading to injury and sometimes, death. For example, “Wind chill and cold temperatures can cause exposed skin to freeze very rapidly, leading to frostbite. Extremely cold conditions can cause hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition. Protect yourself by taking steps to stay warm when you are outdoors.”[v] This comes from a Canadian weather services website and I’m pretty sure Canadians know something about snow.
Does the love of snow come from learned behaviour wherein we ignore our defensive brain, which we do for many other activities. We associate it with winter holidays such as Christmas, and yuletide joy. Children don’t have to go to school, often businesses close and you get a ‘snow day.’ Snow is never as cold when you’re a child then when you reach adulthood. I’m still at a loss, and I know who I sound like. I still hate snow though. It causes discomfort and fear deep within me. Plus it’s wet and cold, if you like wet and cold then you’re weird.
So I’ll leave you today with some photographs of my back garden covered in snow, as we experience OUR WORST STORM IN 36 YEARS. *Coughs* Sorry sometimes you feed into the hype. Wherever you are, stay warm and cosy friends!
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 Sneacth is the Irish word for Snow. So Snowpocalypse essentially.
[ii] Overy, Richard. (2004). Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference. Sixth Edition. The Times. Page 34.
[iii] [iii] Overy, Richard. (2004). Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference. Sixth Edition. The Times. Page 34.
[iv][iv] Overy, Richard. (2004). Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference. Sixth Edition. The Times. Page 40.