Last Friday it snowed non-stop for thirty-six hours and I thought life on our planet had come to an icy end. Yesterday was another day when it snowed non-stop for thirty-six hours but the snowflakes were much bigger. My world has turned cold and white and, much to my surprise, I love it.
I’ve never been very fond of winter weather but the winter weather of my bit of the Republic of Bulgaria has, so far this winter, been extremely nice. Most of the country has been caught up in a series of ten day cycles each consisting of a single day of heavy snow followed by week long periods of sunshine with iciness in which the whole place sparkled as the snow melted slowly in a slush-free sort of way before the whole routine started again.
However, the latest batch has been the heaviest snow I have seen here. In fact, it is probably the heaviest snow I have ever seen in my life. A forty-two centimetre deep layer has carpeted the village of Malki Chiflik where I live. There’s even a bit of underlay remaining from the last snowfall we had a week and a half ago. It’s a good job it looks nice because there’s no escaping from it for anyone with fewer than eight huskies to pull their sled, or Lada.
For the first time in fifty-six years I haven’t had to worry about trudging through wintery conditions to get to work or school. Not having any responsibilities makes bad weather so much more bearable, or even enjoyable. I would go as far as to say that this is my all-time favourite bad weather. The snow is too deep to venture out so I have just sat inside, poured myself the odd cheeky glass of rakia to help keep me warm and to support the local economy, and watched through the windows as the deluge of white flakes made my garden look like a Christmas cake, albeit a Christmas cake with a few nettles poking through the surface and a couple of piles of waste matter deposited in the chill by as yet unidentified wild animals with frostbitten bums. I’m staying inside and if the world needs me it will just have to wait until I re-emerge from my den at the end of the hibernating season.
I will go out once it stops snowing but at the moment I just don’t fancy getting wet in such low temperatures. It won’t stop me going to explore my beautiful new surroundings but last week it did stop me going out to join in the New Year’s Eve celebrations in the nearby old city of Veliko Tarnovo, which was a bit of a shame because I missed out on a few fireworks and a lot of merrymaking. However, I suspect that everybody else in the region was in the same predicament so if I had turned up I would have had to stand there on my own with a sparkler and a sausage looking all lonely and pathetic instead of just feeling that way at home.
My summer sun terrace.
Cosy though it is in my old Bulgarski farmhouse stocked to the gun whales with food and drink and stuff to keep me entertained, I do feel a little claustrophobic. I could do with getting out to get some exercise, some fresh air, some fresh fruit and veg, some contact with other human beings and a pint. To break the silence I’ve been talking to myself a little bit and each noise that I hear I imagine to be voices or footsteps. A couple of weeks ago, I had a minor skirmish with a rodent-based creature. I won our little battle but it put up a good fight and made me constantly aware of animal noises in the roof and the walls. I’ve been advised to leave my water taps running a little to reduce the likelihood of the pipes freezing. It’s amazing how similar the dribble of water into the kitchen sink sounds to the patter of a rat’s little feet. So, as I sit here trying to write, all the time looking around me and listening out for sinister intruders, I imagine that my life is turning into Stanley Kubrik’s film, The Shining. I have my woodman’s axe at hand ready for the reappearance of any unwelcome wildlife and a psychopathic grin on my face, just like Jack Nicholson’s, in case I need to smile for the camera as I hack my visitors to bits.
The other little problems associated with being snowbound are that the electricity, water and internet have been cut off intermittently, though never all at the same time. I’m prepared for this though. My old petchka (wood burning stove) and a glass of rakia keep me warm when I can’t use my posh modern electrical heating system; when the internet goes off I have a glass of rakia and I sing old Bulgarian folk songs to myself instead of watching them on YouTube; and when there is no water I immerse myself in rakia to keep myself clean and warm, and preserved in the event of failing to survive these Arctic conditions.
Anyway, I feel as though I am coping with this cold winter which will be over in a few weeks and then we can all look forward to a hot Bulgarian summer during which we will drink rakia to keep cool. The local economy needs my support the whole year round you know!