Slip Sliding Away

In a moment of extreme bravery/stupidity, I have ventured outside in spite of the continued presence of the mad snow.

I have been forced outside by necessity, as Riho has apparently barricaded himself indoors until March and we are out of bread and milk, and as I also need to buy wool and post another Silly Hat to a customer, I have more reasons to leave the apartment than he does. I lose.

It is no longer blizzardy, but the snow continues to fall thick and fast here in Tallinn. I have watched unhappy workers from the offices opposite the apartment attempting to dig their cars out from beneath snow drifts; one of them simply walked to his vehicle and then walked away again in defeat, as I have surmised from the lonely set of footprints leading to and from the all but invisible car. Snow ploughs and diggers are out in force around the city, but they can’t keep up with the snowfall – huge white mountains, cleared from roads and footpaths, line the streets, waiting to be shifted by the flat-out snow patrol (or snow men, as I like to call them).

Walking is as close to impossible as anything can be without actually being impossible. I slither and slide my way to the Old Town, which, at a five minute walk away, takes me around half an hour to get to – mainly because I have to stop and take calming breaths every time I narrowly avoid sliding helplessly under the wheels of a bus. The Old Town – its narrow, uneven streets difficult to traverse at the best of times – is now only fit for nutcases and people with skis. I do not have any skis.

Whimpering pitifully, I take tiny nervous steps towards my destination, getting completely lost due to all the streets that already looked quite similar now being covered in snow. I take a brief detour to the Christmas Market. This is totally unintentional, and happens mainly because I am lost and also because I start an uncontrollable slide downhill and have no idea how to get back up without breaking a leg. It is easier to go with the flow. I slide gracelessly into the Square and try a different route, unable to take in the delightful Christmassyness right now because I cannot remain upright for long enough to do so.

I stagger up the steps to the wool shop, purchase my wool, and ask my friend the wool woman if she knows where I can buy some wellies. The wool woman does not know what wellies are, and we have a language barrier sort of conversation that would be very amusing under different circumstances. Glumly, I leave the wool shop, step on to the street, and promptly land on my arse.

dsc01956By the time I make it back to the city centre, I am wet and sore and have a twisted ankle, and I have reached the Death Slide path leading to the apartment, where heavy pedestrian traffic has turned the pavement into a lovely ice rink. I stand at the edge of the scary road, which has two lanes of cars, an island, two lanes of trams, an island, two lanes of cars, an island, and a little filter lane for good measure. This is usually daunting enough, but now I have to climb knee-high mountains of snow to get on to each bit of road, and am limited to very slow baby steps as opposed to my usual gallop, regardless of how many cars are skidding towards me. With a feeling of impending doom, I wait for the green man, and a joker beside me climbs on to the first snow mountain, creates a makeshift starting block out of slush, and braces himself as if waiting for the starting pistol. He says something to me. Ma ei räägi eesti keelt, I reply, and he shrugs, switching to English. That’s OK, since I wasn’t speaking Estonian, he says, embarrassingly.

Markus is from Finland, and he thinks that Tallinn covered in snow makes for a great day trip. We chat until the lights change, and then he notes the change in my tone and expression as we prepare to leap out from behind the snow mountain on to the icy road. You are OK? he asks, striding along confidently as I stagger around in an intoxicated manner. I just… I can’t… I don’t… I can’t walk!! I wail miserably. He looks at me and then grabs my bag, which might normally panic me, but I no longer care about anything other than not being killed as I cross the roads, and anyway, it is much easier to balance with my arms out at my sides and no bag weighing me down.

We make it to the first island. Would you like me to carry you? asks Markus helpfully. I force a smile. You might need to! I am joking, of course, but to my alarm he nods seriously and moves towards me as if he is going to throw me effortlessly over his shoulder. I foresee terrible injury and disaster for us both, and rush hurriedly on to the next bit of road, saying Err, no, no, you really don’t need to aaaaaaarghhhhh!, which is the point where I slide and fall on to the tram line, thus realising my worst nightmare. Markus does not hide his amusement very well, but he does grab my arm and haul me up, half-carrying, half-dragging me across to safety, where he gives me back my bag, wishes me well, and bounds cheerfully off into the snowy distance.

I have investigated the contents of the freezer and decided that I do not need to go outside for at least a week. Enough is enough.

Snow? Bah, humbug.


9 thoughts on “Slip Sliding Away

  1. The Sister says:

    Don’t be defeated by the horrible snow….don’t tell me you haven’t built a snowman yet???!!

    Think how big he could be with all that snow….and you can knit him a woolie hat and scarf :)

  2. What a great post – I can just picture it all. It only happens here once or twice a year (and even then only some ice on the pavements) and it takes me hours to get anywhere :-)

  3. Oh man … I would SO lock myself inside in those conditions. I’m a California girl and couldn’t see myself subjected to living in those conditions anymore. I’m set in my ways … give me the fires/mudslides and earthquakes any ol’ day :-D

    It’s fun reading about YOUR experience though. Keep it up.

  4. Andrea says:

    hi, only just started reading you, having been a fan of nellysgarden for months, I am shivering in fear and cold reading about your suffering! If you want, let me know yr shoe size and address and I will POST you some wellies urgently you poor intrepid thing!!!

  5. I’ve always pined for snowy winters, but reading about your experiences in a white, wintery Tallinn has given me a new appreciation for the rainy west coast of Canada.

    Hope your ankle, arse and pride are on the mend. ;)

  6. Sister – no snowman from me but I did meet a really funky one on the way home the other night. He was even wearing a Silly Hat!
    Conor – Thanks! It’s all a new experience for me, too…
    Kristy – See, a bit of snow sounds much more manageable to me than earthquakes!!
    bevchen – ah, ice – great when little kids have turned entire paths into slides by skating constantly along them…
    Andrea – Welcome! Glad you’ve joined us! And you’ll be relieved to know that yesterday I purchased some wellies. I can walk!!
    Grannymar – The Sister would have a blue fit if I told her I went out with socks over my shoes. :) Anyway, I got my wellies. In a kitchenware shop, of all places!
    Maureen – Ah, it does look so pretty though! My main issue was with not being able to walk. This was my fault rather than the snow’s, as it was due to inappropriate footwear. My nice grippy welly boots make it all seem a lot better!

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