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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Thing about Snow!

There was a news journalist on the telly this morning reporting from a sub-zero (-16) Chicago, in the United States. 

All you could see were her little eyes poking out she was so bundled up against the cold. 

Residents have been warned it’s so cold even only a few minutes exposure to the elements will cause hypothermia or frost bite.

At least in this heatwave we Australians can venture outside without fear of losing a finger or toe.

Having been born and bred in the tropics I’ll gladly own up to eschewing freezing cold weather as much as I can.

I’ve only ever been to the snow twice in my life. The first time I was about twenty-five years old and went on a weekend bus trip with a mob of wild ratbags up to the Snowy Mountains.

On the first day I hired a ski jacket but was too much of a cheapskate to fork out for the ski pants. 

“I’ll be fine!” I thought. It was snowing heavily that day and by the time the chair lift had reached the top of Mt Koscieszko my jeans and insufficient woollen gloves had frozen onto my body.


I had no idea how wet (as well as cold) snow was. I don’t know why. It’s not as if I’d never stuck my hand inside a freezer before.

Working at the top of Australia’s highest mountain all day, assisting useless tourists to jump onto a moving chairlift without clumsily hurtling themselves over the summit, probably wouldn’t be the most gratifying job in the world and I remember the guy in charge screaming at me as I dithered in my anaesthetised state and failed to connect my deadened backside to the seat and was nearly shovelled to an early death.

By the time I’d travelled down to the bottom again I could not feel my hands. By ‘not feel them’, I don’t just mean they were numb. I could easily have had them chopped off at the wrist with a guillotine and not noticed any pain.

And then my hands began to thaw out. Apart from a baby ripping its way down the birth canal I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced such pain. I cried tears of agony.

Now, I can’t go into the freezer section of Coles without my hands turning ghostly white and I’m sure it’s a leftover side effect of near frost bite.

It was another twenty or so years before I decided to hazard another trip into territory I feel is best left to White Fang and his pack.

Scotto and I were on holidays in Melbourne staying in the city.

“We should take a drive up to Mt Buller for lunch,” suggested a naïve Pinky, imagining a leisurely drive up the mountain, a cosy fireside lunch and relaxed drive back to the city.

I looked studiously at the map. Mt Buller was only two fingernail lengths away from Melbourne… not far at all.

By the time we eventually made it up the two fingernail lengths of twisting, snaking, steep road it was almost 5:00pm and just on cue, the moment we arrived, heavy snow began to fall.


As George W. Bush once said, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.”

There I stood for the second time in my life in a snow storm, wearing jeans and inadequate attire while the wind slashed through my clothes as if I was standing there stark naked.

Teeth chattering and freezing to death in my wet canvas shoes we jumped in a shuttle and were dropped at the accommodation booking shack. No one was going back down that mountain tonight and we needed somewhere to stay.

There was only one place left in the resort village with any vacancies and naturally it was the most expensive hotel of all.

At six hundred dollars for the night, on top of whatever we were paying for our apartment back in the city, it proved to be quite an extravagant lunch.

After I’d semi-dried my socks on the heater in the room we slipped and slid across the icy pathway to purchase a couple of Subways for dinner (all we could afford) and spent the evening staring out the window at the suitably attired rich people playing in the snow.