Year Abroad Diaries: 17 January 2013

Regardless of the weather warnings, I woke and opened my blind at 7am with cynicism. There would be no snow; forecasts are obviously only there to dupe us. So you can imagine I was rather shocked when my ‘volet’ raised and what usually was black tarmac was… well, la neige.

I wrapped up warm, gloves, layers and hat, and stepped outside, unsure if my classes would even be on. On the collège website, it said that ‘school transport had been cancelled but a welcome still awaited you at the collège.’ In essence, I couldn’t not go.

So that was how at 5 to 8, I was taking tentative steps on the white sheet. Surprisingly, it wasn’t slippery at all but exceedingly powdery; the kindest type of snow. The streets in the dim lights of the morning were quite beautiful, a different A-town experience to what I’m used to. Coming up the lane to the school, I heard the bell sound yet very little noise after…

… so when I saw le prof, I was not surprised to find only  8 students in his class.

The ‘did I really get out of bed for nothing?’ feeling was surfacing, so in my break I went to take photos. In foresight I brought my camera, so putting my hood up I pushed myself through the winds towards the jardin. No luck. It looked like a wonderland through the slats in the gate, but on the rails a notice shouted, ‘jardin fermé pour cause d’intemperies’. So I took a few snaps of the Notre-Dame church and followed the winding road into the town centre. It was silent, only a few people awake at 0930 attempting to stock up for the day, or braving the snow. I continued up the narrow stone steps to the tower, where my frozen fingers took cold clicks of the skyline before my batteries ran out.

When I made it back to the collège at 10am, I was soaked and cold, but made an effort to join the other teachers in the staffroom (the ones who’d made it to school, anyway). Vice Principal Prof was meandering around the lockers like an agitated mole, and it soon transpired that afternoon classes were cancelled. Merci, mon Dieu! I couldn’t stop surprise or excitement leaking into my foreign response, but I’m sure the other teachers were just hiding it far better than I was. We were free.

The wind pushed me back to the flat, daggers of ice scratching my face, throwing me against the door and –


K squealed at me from down the hall. Her and Y had only just woken and dared to look outside. Clothes were thrown and jackets rustled in haste to sample the snow.

Y had a gigantic Sony camera she clicked away at whilst we Brits kicked the powdery flurries and made our way to the château. Snapshots of plants, flakes, grey skies; then the only conceivable conclusion was a cup of char.

It took a while to thaw out yesterday. I woke early this morning, the snow itself slowly softening, after a very strange dream. I was at a party with the cadet lot, nursing the distinct feeling that things were ‘final’.  So I’ve spent the remainder of the morning in a half-asleep, questioning, nostalgic state, thinking,

this time in 2011 I was… and then in 2012 where was I…

and musing on how bizarrely brilliant life is. All the adjoining paths you could take, all the ones that shall remain forever blocked, and those you wouldn’t dare go down. And how on the current road, the prints your feet slide into are exactly your size.

Time for porridge.

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