Monday, January 11, 2010

Let it snow

Well, it's been a long time, but I am finally getting back in the swing of things. A lovely trip to Greece over the holiday (more on that later), only to return to snow. Day after day of snow, which slowly accumulated to about 20 cm (8 inches for the Americans).

Fortunately, it all fell before New Year's, so the disruption was minimal. Then a week of getting around in it—they have plows here, but they don't seem to like using them much. At least not on small side streets. Our driveway, however, is visited every morning by a snow sweeper, waking us at either 3:30 am (on a weekday) or 7:00 am (on the weekends and holidays). It is, in typical German fashion, extraordinarily punctual; our early-morning notification that it snowed overnight.

Another big storm over this past weekend, with a predicted 40 cm (16 inches) that turned out, rather disappointingly, to be only 10 cm.  I love a good snow storm. The kind that requires two days of digging out, that cancels classes, keeps people home from work, and provides lots of fluff for building snowmen and making snow angels. Alas, 'twas not to be.

Given the lack of plowing and generally snow-trampled (soon to be icy) sidewalks, how, exactly do people without automobiles get around? Particularly with small children?  Strollers are not an option, although I did see one dedicated father picking up his child's stroller every now and then to get over particularly impassable sections of sidewalk. A few die-hard bikers are still riding their bikes... on the slushy streets, since the bike paths are either mounded with snow or blocked by discarded Christmas trees. Not the place for children, even in one of the bike trailers.

No, the solution is a sled. Almost all young children (ours included) travel to kindergarten/school by sled. Parents pull them along with a rope. It's a good workout (particularly when you've got two on the sled at once and you're trudging through several centimeters of snow), and the children love it, when they're not trying to jump off as the sled races along. Our youngest tends to do this; he toppled head-first into a snow-bank this morning. Fortunately the snow was still soft.

When you get there, you simply leave the sled outside, ready for the trip home. Too bad ours is standing outside the Kita (kindergarten); it would be useful for bringing home groceries!

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