The Snow Days

When I read Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain” (Zauberberg) many years ago, I was intrigued by the qualities of snow as he described them. There was no such thing as simply ‘snow’, which is how we used to regard it. There was icy snow, crystal snow, rainy snow, sleety snow, thick flopping flakes of snow. Enough to almost die in, as the novel’s protagonist was to find out (but didn’t, thankfully, die). Yes, it was very seductive stuff. So too in “Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow”, the modern Danish novel I read many years later, is snow described in all its complex forms and epiphanies. It is epiphanic, in fact, despite its deadly, lethal potential. A delightful academic of my acquaintance who is currently undertaking the translation of some of my poetry to Portuguese contacted me recently to question my use of the phrase ‘blue glass motorway’ in one of a trio of Snow poems (in the 1998 published “Unlegendary Heroes” [Salmon Poetry]). She simply did not make the link between the idea of snow and the peculiar and dazzling colours created by light on snow. And why should she? I think if you have lived in Brazil you will not have much experience of the finer points of snow. In any case, problem was solved, and I hope I conveyed to her the idea of blue, glass-like swathes of icy compacted snow on our motorways, and the unfortunates sometimes locked in their cars for hours when the traffic is slip-sliding its way homewards.

In any event, I’m thoroughly tired of the snow. There were no power cuts though, thankfully, though a friend of mine had a major outtage yesterday when an oak tree fell calamitously in his area in Kildare. Ugh. Whatever about ordinary grumbling about snow, to be without heat in this weather is dire. OVER AND OUT.


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