One of the most talked about topics of conversation among Brits is the weather. In the space of 24 hours, it can be sunny, rainy, with some times as much as a ten to fifteen degree shift in temperature with blustery strong winds. It doesn't really matter what time of year it is, anything could happen. The one constant, though, is the high probability of rain. We pretend to hate the weather, but the reality is that we take perverse pleasure in complaining about it. After all, nothing like talking about the weather can bring complete stranger together in mock sympathy.
No matter where I am in the world I always carry an umbrella. While out of England, on more than one occasion, I've been asked if it was going to rain just because I was holding an umbrella, and every time my response was a shrug, followed by, "I don't know. I'm British." Enough said. Truthfully, the reason why I always have an umbrella is because of my hair. Being of African origin, my hair doesn't get wet unless I want it to. Rain on my head would ruin my 'do'.
Back to the snow. The one thing Londoners (and those who live in the home counties or suburbs) are not used to though, is snow. Please note the distinction - it does snow in other parts of the country, but in London, not so much.
I have had the privilege of spending time on the East Coast in the New York/New Jersey area, and also in Colorado. So I like to think that I've experienced snow. Snow that prevents you from opening your front door because three feet of the white stuff is wedged behind the door. Snow, that has children hoping for a snow day because, frankly, the teachers can't get to school and the kids want to sled, build snowmen and pretend to be angels. Snow though, can be so ironic that powerful 4x4's get stuck, with wheels spinning and engines rev'ing with little or no forward movement, but sometimes side ways or in a tailspin, but smaller vehicles like a Prius could coast along nicely, getting it's passengers to their destination safely. Go figure. If you lived on a side street in a small residential area, getting the snow on your street plowed i snot a guarantee. Getting from one side of the street to the other involved taking giant steps, getting your legs up to the shin (or higher depending on your height) deep in the powdery snow, pulling it out and digging in again. By the time you'd 'walked' 10 yards you'd feel like you had been mountain climbing. What an intense lower body workout!
Back to London. For once, the weather forecast caused a flurry of excitement (pun intended). A big freeze was on it's way. Snow, real snow was in the forecasts. It was almost euphoric. To be honest, I didn't give the forecast much thought. As long as I had on warm clothes, a heavy coat, my Ugg boots and my trusty umbrella, I was fine. Forward to last Tuesday, I opened the front door to make my way to work and there on the ground was snow! I was impressed. After years of paltry snow, here in front of my very eyes was what looked like, wait for it, two whole inches of snow. do concede that some people got up to six inches of snow in the home counties. What was interesting to me was the amount of people who didn't go to work and the number of train services that were cancelled because of the snow!
Remember how we like to talk about the weather? This time though I had to curb my tongue. In the lifts (elevators) every one was talking about the snow. Initially I responded to complaints with a disdainful, "you call that snow?" Imagine the looks I got. Not wanting to rain on anyone's parade, plus being on the receiving end of dirty looks is no fun. So I kept my yap shut!
My mother is in her late sixties and she has always been scared of snow. Seeing a thin layer of snow is enough to leave her paralysed with fear, trapped indoors for days on end. Who can blame her? In all her years living in London, she'd never seen much snow and a few times when she was a lot younger, she'd had some falls. The older you get, the more careful you tend to be. Don't want to be breaking those old bones now. Imagine my surprise when I called her from work and she didn't answer the phone. When I eventually reached her, she told that she'd gone out. What! Apparently she'd reached a place in her life where she believes that she has no need to fear. God has given her boldness in her old age. Boldness that she didn't have as a young person. And it doesn't end with snow. A previously shy and timid woman, she now speaks in public. I'm so proud of her.
It made me realise that no matter how old you are, or what you've been through, God can still surprise you. You may have written yourself off, or let disappointment discourage you, but the God who made you has faith in the ability and plans that He has for you, and it's not over until He says so. I've been so caught up with the ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns of the past year that I not so much lost my passion for writing, as believed that I never had it in the first place. But you know what? I'm going to dust off that manuscript. If we could have inches of snow in London, and if my mum can brave the snow, I can write that novel!
Have a truly blessed Christmas everyone!
Ufuoma Daniella Ojo is a Software Training Project Manager, hoping to finish editing her first novel and trusting God for it's subsequent publication.