Much has been made in the news recently of the Big Freeze affecting Europe, and Geneva is most certainly caught up in it.
We had a pretty thorough snow fall over two-and-a-half weeks ago that is still lingering on the ground, despite no extra falls since then. However with the arctic winds and the temperatures staying in the minus double-digits, the fluffy white stuff has either iced up or been blown to smithereens.
Dad confirmed that no, not even in Aberdeen, when we regularly faced the North Sea squalls and wind fresh from the Russian steppes, did we have temperatures like those we're currently experiencing here in Switzerland. I remember my mother hanging up some bedsheets to dry in the glass-house overlooking the railway line and snapping a corner off the following morning as though it was a toffee shard.
Here in Geneva, the edges of driveways and footpaths are all lined with stubborn snow. Carved by temperature, squalls and time, they each resemble jagged white rocks proudly personifying the hardy survivors of a freeze that has seen cars so iced up by the edge of Lac Leman that their owners have been instructed by the council to forget about them until March. The narrow letterbox view afforded me between the beanie pulled down over my eyebrows, scarf pulled up to my nostrils and neck puffed up with two hoodies showed that the 'rocks' look rather formal and as though they'd been deliberately arranged and painted.
Up close is a different matter and, as the days roll wind-chillingly by, the 'rocks' are now yellow from the frequent and regular whizzings of the neighbourhood dogs. Milly has given up investigating these canine stories and just adds her own on top, trotting away as her contribution steams its presence before freezing into the rest. Heaven help the hygiene of the place should there be a sudden drop in temperature.
The ground now revealed underneath the ice is bone dry, as is the air we walk through, breathe and live in. As a born-and-raised South Aussie gal used to 'dry' heat of 43C in summer that sucks the moisture from your eyeballs the moment you step out of the back door, this wintry, cold-snap dryness is a new one.
There's a tickling on my lips when I'm out in the mornings with Milly. It feels as though some tiny bugs want to settle there. I brush them away ineffectually with my gloves and it's only afterwards when treated to a view of myself in the lift's mirrors that I see that the 'bugs' are in actual fact just thin strips of dangling skin. Having never been endowed with Angelina Jolie-like lips, it now appears that my two Kenneth Branagh pencil lines have enough material to transform themselves from a slashed cakehole entrance to a peeling fringe.
Further examination shows the salty trails of tears that have since dried up in the wind. I'm not the only sad bugger out on the streets. Everyone else is crying too, dabbing at their eyes before the howling breeze whips the tissue out of their hands and sends it on to Paris. I've had more conversations with passersby during this cold snap than in any other time during my seven months here. It's not particularly eloquent though - usually we wipe the moisture from our eyes and an involuntary "Oooofff!" escapes us as we react to yet another breeze that punches the kidneys and shreds the mouth.
The worst effect, however, is not my small-shaped head looking like a grey polar-fleece penis in its beanie, nor my torso as a parka-covered homage to the Michelen Man. It's my nose.
Little did I know it, but the animated conversation I had with Francine in the park as her beloved black lab again attempted to hump Milly was conducted with frozen snot smeared across my cheek in a wind-blown zig-zag a drunken snail would have been proud to call its own.
Ah winter. The perfect opportunity to hide one's flab but not one's fluids.