• Alina Cebula

What is it like to live with snow

I have never seen as much snow as during my time in Poland. We are only third of way through winter, but the snow and the cold has already shown us the difficulties we will have to face in the future. 

​Poland is a country with a very diverse climate and there wasn’t anything I could be more excited than for winter! I haven’t experienced proper winter conditions since I was a child, and this was something I was really looking forward to. I absolutely love trees wearing white fluffy coats of snow. Low sun shining on crystal white puff, and the magical calming feeling of looking at snow slowly falling from the white sky! In winter, everything changes and so many more photographic opportunities arise. I always imagined I would be outdoors taking photos for as long as the cold would allow me to!

Sadly, this wasn’t the case so far this winter. As good as having half a meter of snow in our garden is, it also means it is very difficult to get out of the house. De-snowing the garden so I can drive out has become a daily morning routine, which takes a couple of hours of hard work. I still do, almost every time, get stuck. The roads are very slippery and dangerous, over night they get snowed in and driving in the morning is almost impossible on roads with hills. When driving it’s a given to skid and every time it gives me a mini heart attack! The best part is that if you get stuck in the snow, it’s most likely to be in an area with no signal, because we are mostly surrounded by forests. It also turns out that our car battery doesn’t deal well with snow. All of this means that even smallest trips to the grocery shop are very stressful and require a lot of preparation. ​ We once got trapped in a forest for over two hours at 12am, and even though we had chains to put on our tyres, we still couldn’t get up the small hill. The chains kept falling off and we had to spend a lot of time trying to fix them at -5C in complete darkness. 

​These are only small problems that once you deal with, are gone (at least until the next time you need to go somewhere). Another thing is keeping our house warm, with cold conditions like these we need to keep an eye on the fire and check it every couple of hours. Cleaning the fireplace and starting the fire over again every morning is also a daily routine.

​The day is very short, and it starts getting dark at 2pm. By the time I have de-snowed the drive, made fire, re-charged the car battery and got ready to go, it’s already half way through the daylight.  Most of the mountain hikes are impossible to walk though without walking in the dark. The paths are not visible so getting lost is very easy. Tatras National Park is closed due to high risk of avalanches, and on top of all that, if I do manage to go out, it’s too cold to stay out for too long without getting freezing cold, and I usually end up ill the next day. 

Winter is beautiful, I love it, but I hate that it makes beautiful places inaccessible. Seeing snow falling every day for a week, and still falling now, makes me more worried than happy. I used to be over the moon if I woke up to snow. Today, when I wake up and it’s STILL snowing I’m just begging it to stop so I can finally get outside without problems. 

A few snapshots from my phone from the past couple of days (click to view):

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