Saturday, December 28, 2013


For days, the weather forecast had been for a very stormy weekend, starting from Thursday and on through Saturday, with lots of rain, wind, and a good possibility of snow in the areas here where there is usually some snow every winter.  Jerusalem does usually have one snow day a year, with a few centimeters of snow, and then half of the country drives up to Jerusalem to see it, creating, of course, huge traffic jams. By the time most of the winter-starved visitors get to town, the snow has mostly melted and what is left is slushy and dirty.

Many friends asked me if I was ready for the snowstorm.  No chance of snow here, I told them, we are below the snow line.  The snow usually ends about 4 kilometers from us, which is at a higher elevation. Where we are, the temperature is usually just a few degrees too high for snow and certainly not cold enough for the snow to stick.  The last time we had a big snow here was twenty years ago.  So I was not worried, we wouldn’t be having snow.

Friday morning I woke up to a dark freezing house, no electricity, and outside the window, everything covered in snow.  True, the snow wasn’t very deep, only a few centimeters, but it was enough to cover everything in white, weigh down the trees and bushes, and knock out the electric lines.  Although we had no way of hearing the news at the time (having become a total resident of the modern world, I don’t even have a battery operated radio at home), the storm had been quite severe, with heavy snow further up the road and into Jerusalem. The weight of the snow had brought down electric lines, and trees that fell on the electric lines, and the repairmen from the electric company were unable to get to some of the locations to fix the lines, due to piled up snow.  And the storm was still going on, rain all over the country, and snow still falling in the north and in Jerusalem area.

The snow we had was not nice fluffy fun snow, it was heavy, wet, slushy snow – it was cold enough to freeze, but not cold enough for it to last.  By early afternoon it was mostly melted away.  The dogs were not impressed by this, they found it annoying that their feet were cold, and that everything was so wet.  This wet snow was much more penetrating than rain, and all the dogs looked thoroughly miserable.

It's an advantage to be a smooth when it is wet out...

Cold feet!
The rain kept falling, and there was still no electricity.  You would think that, since I had spent 17 years living without electricity, this would not be a great hardship – but I have become thoroughly spoiled and accustomed to modern amenities.  I don’t have the equipment to cope with a lack of electricity now, so was left sitting with a few candles around the room, reading by flashlight, with five sweaters and a blanket to keep warm.  Habibi and the podengos joined me on the sofa, any suggestions that they might want to go out for a while met with scornful looks.

We were lucky – the electricity in our area was restored by the end of the day.  In other parts of the Jerusalem area, there was no electricity for as much as four days.  The snow had stopped traffic (just to put things in proportion – there was altogether about 40 centimeters of snow in Jerusalem). People were unable to get through the streets and abandoned their cars at the side of the road, which made it totally impossible for anyone to get through.  For the electric company workers to get to the places that needed repairing, first the city had to tow away all the cars that were blocking the way.  The highway to Jerusalem (the main highway of Israel) was completely closed for three days, and people were stuck either unable to leave their homes or unable to get home.

It was quite nice, though, to be able to look out and see a totally empty highway, where usually there were masses of cars and daily traffic jams, and to enjoy the quiet. 

Fortunately for us, we got our electricity back after only one day without, and the telephone and internet were back after two days.  Parts of the area were without all of these essentials for as much as four days or more – and our modern society is so dependent on this, that there are few people who have emergency equipment – heaters working on kerosene, camping lights, or anything of that sort.  And it was very cold (by Israeli standards!), and very wet – not at all pleasant.

There has been a lot of criticism of the utility companies for not repairing things fast enough, of the government for not being prepared…I must admit, that being without was very frustrating, but the companies worked very hard to try and get things under control.  And somehow, no matter how prepared we may think we are for all eventualities, nature always wins in the end!

The dogs were not impressed.  They ran around as usual in the snow and the rain, and, to my surprise, were quite quiet – often the silence when there is little or no traffic encourages them to bark – they can hear the echo from the hills opposite us and think they are answering those “other” dogs.  But this time, apparently the peace of the snowy hills influenced them, and they ran and played with little barking.  Even the podengos, after a few minutes of protest and foot lifting about the cold and wet, began to dig around in the snow to see what was under it.

Habibi, however, found all of this absolutely unnecessary and annoying.  He was not at all interested in exploring the snow and cold, and when forced to go out, he sat on top of the dog houses, to remove himself as much as possible from that slushy stuff.  He knew that his job was to keep my feet warm, and was very glad to perform such an essential task.

We are back to normal now, normal winter temperatures which are about the same as summer temperatures in a good portion of the world. The dogs are dry, most of them have been groomed to get rid of the relics of the bad weather, the highway is back to normal activity, and the dogs are barking as usual.

1 comment:

  1. I presume your foot warmer is back at his post? Love your little reminders of my Mackie.