Snow angels

2012-10-23 00:00

Schools Category Finalist

ONCE upon a time, I bunked school.

Just for one day, and with my parents’ consent, so I suppose it isn’t really very adventurous. But it happens to be the most irrational and spontaneous thing I have ever endeavoured to undertake, and so I believe it must be worth something. Of course, to understand the huge significance of my excursion, one has to understand that I am not the type to break rules. Hardly ever. In fact, in general, I am pretty feeble at rebelling. So this was my very important first step into the daunting and rather frivolous world of teenagehood.

Fortunately for me, and my parents I suppose, it was also my final step. I find rebellion rather boring. Unfortunately, for all involved, our little adventure did not go quite as planned.

It does not often snow in Pietermaritzburg and its surrounds. Obviously, these last two years have been the exception to this comment, and I suppose that if it continues in this annual fashion, I shall have to withdraw that statement completely. But last year, as soon as we heard that there was snow in the Midlands, we all bundled into the car in our pyjamas — myself, my mother, stepfather, two brothers and best friend, Tee, who was living with us at the time.

It was (only) about 9.30 pm when we set off on our preliminary quest to find the snow. We found it. So did our car. We slid around a lot and got very cold before giving up and returning home to greater things. Like sleep.

Obviously, everything looks different in the morning. So, forgetting the previous night’s unpleasant outing, we had a brisk meeting, and decided to “risk it” again. Then we fell asleep once more for a short while. After dressing warmly and eating a substantial amount of toast, we set off. Truants. And very much okay with this.

Nottingham Road was blanketed with a generous helping of ice. I still find the sight of it quite extraordinarily beautiful. Everything looks clean and fresh, and so blindingly white, for miles and miles, right to the foot and up to the shoulders of the Drakensburg mountains, like icing sugar dusted over a very large, mostly inedible cake. As a child, before I found out that I was very seriously short-sighted, we had gone to see the snow. I say “see” rather sarcastically, as I did nothing of the sort. I just cried and complained and got very cold. To comments of, “Ruby, can’t you see how stunning these snowflakes are?”, I responded, “Mom, it’s slush. We are standing in brown, dirty slush.” Obviously, after this, my eyes were examined, and I was issued with some rather thick spectacles.

Anyway, I was excited to experience the transformed landscape around me, now that I could see it. We drove up to Clifton, where Tee’s actual family was snowed in, and spent the morning drinking hot chocolate by the fire, and devouring soup.

We did all the things one is supposed to do in the snow, excluding snow angels. It is too cold to make snow angels in the snow. I don’t understand why someone came up with that idea.

We got lost only once, and what we may have lacked in academic endeavours for the morning, we made up for in snowman building skills and general happiness.

The final leg of our journey led us to the Junction, in Nottingham Road, and this is where this story took an unexpected turn. One of The Witness’s photographers was documenting the occasion, and chose Tee and me, out of all the hundreds of people in the snow, to pose next to a snowman. We innocently gave him our names and school, not once remembering that it was now, in fact, still the time for Mathematics in the real world. Point is, we were caught red-handed (and not just because of the cold) when we appeared on the front page of The Witness the following morning, above a caption boasting the school’s name and the time of day. And it wasn’t even our own snowman. (It is the best photograph I own of myself, but that’s beside the point).

There were, obviously, repercussions for our little “Narnia experience”. The topic became a real point of interest around the school, and Tee and I had to try our hardest to look guilty and apologetic. I am in no way glorifying bunking, or rebellion (as I said, it’s boring — really, it is), but I do believe that I grew from the experience.

This year, when it snowed, we went after school.

About the writer: 

Ruby Gill is a passionate reader, writer, musician and performer. “I enjoy working with children, and I adore winter, baking and lettuce. I have a spectacular multicultural family, a boyfriend and a lovely community in the beautiful town of Pietermaritzburg.”

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