Snow, like a lot in nature, can be a blessing and a curse. The curse, this morning in Ohakune, is that all roads out of the town are closed. The main road on one side is blocked by a couple of jack-knifed lorries and has been so since early morning; the other side we don’t know, just ‘an accident’. A third option, a road that snakes alongside a river through stunning countryside but is prone to slips and accidents, is also closed, a lorry apparently having gone ‘over a bank’. As the daughter of a lorry driver I shudder when I hear this: at the least, the weather can be the cause of a serious delay to someone merely trying to do their job, at worst an accident, possibly fatal.
To balance the treachery and inconvenience there is the beauty. All imperfections are disguised by a fall of snow; dull winter gardens become wonderlands and unkempt bushes become stylish. The road is a smooth blanket; snow hangs in the trees and the street glows in the early light. Tree ferns and flaxes, which usually suggest warm climes to me, are shrouded in snow. Our utilitarian black iron fence becomes an artwork, an inch of white balanced on top of each strut.
Neil ventures out just after dawn with his camera, sending pictures of absent friends’ houses to them. We know how they feel, seeing their second home looking so pretty but not being here to enjoy it – this is the first time we’ve seen ours in the snow but we have a raft of pictures that others have sent us over the years.
We take a break from work for a walk with friends and their dogs, one of which, a black labradoodle, sports stylish snow-ball accessories over her lower legs and a fashionable white beard from nosing through the snow. We meet other friends whose daughter, visiting from Auckland, says it reminds her of lockdown. In effect we are locked down, although I hope not for the next four weeks without any food deliveries. (And a casualty of road closures is our weekly fish delivery – a lot of our street are on plan B for dinner tonight!) As we spotted teddy bears on our lockdown walks, today we see snowmen everywhere, trails of green through the snow leading to their feet, happy children capering around them. It seems that everyone is out and having fun.