I see this year there are two giant igloos outside the Ice Hotel. They make the ice rooms in the hotel look like five stars. Perhaps that’s the point.
Igloos have become more popular as a tourist ‘activity’. Some are just there to sit in – like the ones at the Ice Hotel – but some people pay for instruction in how to make their own, and then they sleep in it. I think that sounds a bit close to my idea of suggesting people pay us so they can shovel snow from our drive.
Our living room looks out over snow, uphill to a road, and every week the snow piles have grown. This is mainly good news because any traffic sounds disappear into the snow, but it also means you see less and less of what is happening on the road. The feeling is that snow walls are building up around the house, so maybe it’s a bit like an igloo.
We used to enjoy watching the people walking down the road, and the converted old ‘tractor’ cars coming up and down the hill. I knew when the local council had sent out snow clearing machines, and I knew when the mine’s shift had ended when there was a stream of cars going out of town. I recognised people going to work, and spotted lost tourists making their way into town.
Later we could only see the top half of people as they moved up and down the hill. Then I had to deduce from the movement what their mode of transport was – walking, or kick sled, bicycle, or moped. The position of the arms was a clue.
Then about a month ago the snow pile was so high all we could see was heads – like something out of a Samuel Beckett play, heads bouncing up and down above the snow line. Sometimes they would be heads we knew, and usually not. Occasionally groups of children in different coloured fluorescent ski jackets climbed up over the snow piles and fell down the other side.
Now even the heads have disappeared. Sometimes we can see the top of a snow clearing machine gliding past, or a pennant flag at the end of a car aerial. We’re deep in our lair.
In the last few days there has been much more snow, and a wind driving it into even deeper piles. There’s been no sign of snow clearing in the roads, which is unusual because the local council guarantee to keep them free. You can still just about get your car through, provided you don’t drift into the piles at the side. This morning I saw the top of a snow clearing machine speed up the hill – so fast no-one could wave at it to stop. Maybe we should fly a flag of surrender from the top of our snow piles.
Yesterday the driving snow resulted in the closure of the main road between here and Norway. It doesn’t happen very often – it’s not the amount of snow that’s the problem but the combination of snow and wind. We had friends staying with us who had foolishly decided to spend Saturday night in Narvik and so were stuck there longer than they would have liked.
In a hotel they took the opportunity to watch some of the winter Olympics – the men’s cross country skiing relay races. Having listened to Sweden winning the women’s relay the day before, they then watched the men’s relay and Sweden won that too, beating Norway in both races for the first time since 1972. The rivalry between the countries is long-standing. The Norwegian newspapers this morning say ‘Warning – explicit and disturbing content’ and the page is a picture of the Swedish skiers celebrating their victory, and the Norwegian skiers not even in sight. Another headline claims the Norwegian skiers have been reported missing. I guess they’re out there somewhere, hiding in their snow lair.