My smugness back in November at how tame the New York winter was shaping up to be has been well and truly brought into check over these past few weeks of incessant snow, subzero temperatures and icy winds. The pavements are treacherous, icicles drip from tree branches and crossing the streets requires sturdy boots and a very good sense of balance to make it through the piles of ploughed snow. Americans cheerfully comment that I must ‘feel like I’m right at home’ in this sort of weather – apparently England is perpetually freezing in the American imagination- not so! It is chilly, and grey, and damp – there is a difference. It doesn’t snow much in London. And when it does, everything stops anyway, and I get to stay in on the sofa with a cup of tea because I can’t get to work. New Yorkers are more hardy, and you have to go to work even when in order to get there, you have to wade knee high in snow. I do like this blitz spirit, but at the same time, I would like to see the sun again some day soon.
What makes it all bearable, however, is how beautiful the snow makes everything look. I’ve been for some lovely walks through Central Park, which has been transformed into a Narnia-esque winter wonderland; all black and white shadowy tree limbs, muffled footsteps, frosty statues and iced over ponds. The Lions outside the Library are wearing little snowy caps, and avenues of snow draped trees line the streets. It’s lovely, really, until you end up on your bum in a pool of slush in the middle of Fifth Avenue!