Monday, 11 March 2013

A snow blind outing

sunny day in the French Alps - February 2013

While we were in the French Alps recently I read a book that contained very graphic descriptions of a woman suffering snow blindness. Set in the wilds of Canada in 1867 one of the characters eyes are:
’ and weeping. Flashes of red and purple cross my dull vision. There is a throbbing pain behind my eyes. I know I should have covered them on leaving yesterday, but I did not think of it...’
The Tenderness of Wolves, Steph Penney

In the Alps I could readily understand the brightness of sun on snow, we had day after day of clear skies and sun shining down on diamond bright ski slopes. Every time I went outside during the day I wore my sunglasses - and the ultimate fashion accessory if you are a true snow bunny is a ski goggle suntan. 

man and dog in the French Alps 

Back at home in Edinburgh we had the beginnings of spring, flowers were peaking out and I had hopes of being able to retire my leg warmers. Then yesterday I opened the curtains to see snow on the ground. Through winter there were bits and pieces of snow but it did not really stick around in town. Today when I looked out the window I was expecting it all to have melted away, but the landscape was whiter than it had been all winter.

I had an errand that would not be put off by my desire to stay snuggled up inside, so I got out my leg warmers and waterproofs and headed out into the snow flurries. Somehow in the time it took me to get down the stairs the skies had cleared and the sun came out and I found myself blinded by the white light. 

Edinburgh street scape in the snow - March 2013

Rather than heading back upstairs to fetch my sunglasses I put my head down watched out for ice patches and soldiered on - alternating between squinting and closing one eye and then the other as I made my way down the road. 

With the right gear sunshine and snow make for great outdoor conditions - as attested by the mummies doing their aerobic workout in the park and the family with their sled on the hill. Meanwhile for me it was a relief to find myself in shadow and to see the sky going from blue to grey.  

In the time it took to enter the shop and complete my transaction the weather had turned again and I found myself outside in the midst of a different type of snow blindness - this one caused by heavy snow swirling through the air. 

white out in the park - Edinburgh, March 2013

Walking back home through the monochrome world was actually more comfortable for my sunglasses free self, but the sledges, work out mummies and even my footprints from fifteen minutes previous had all vanished in the white.

white out on a familiar street scape - Edinburgh, March 2013 

self portrait dedicated to all my Aussie friends and family sweltering away in 40c conditions.

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