A few months ago my friend posted on her blog that her daughter had spent quite a nice afternoon walking down Tunali Hilmi Cad, in upmarket Ankara, sprinkling glitter on the ground in an attempt to ‘make Ankara pretty’. As someone who dislikes Ankara, perhaps even more than myself, she commented that not even that could make Ankara pretty and wondered if anything could. At the time I was feeling a little less pessimistic than normal, and so in a more charitable moment suggested that snow could. Since snow seems to have the ability to cover up a multitude of sins, if deep enough, and the fact that it somehow has a magical quality that (initially at least) brings out the child in most of us.
Sadly, this year the annual snow that blankets the city for most of the winter has not been in evidence. It would seem that the winds blew from the East this year taking the Siberian cold snap to Western Europe, rather than its usual course of north winds blowing the Siberian freeze south to the Anatolian steps of Turkey. Not that turkey hasn’t seen any snow, rather it has pretty much missed Ankara and only fallen much further east. So when I read the met office’s forecast that snow was due for a single day this Thursday, I was none too hopeful due in part to the fact that in recent months they appear to have been pretty consistent in getting the forecasts wrong. So when I woke up on Thursday morning and saw snow, I ran to tell Smelly, who’d already seen it because he’d been up since 5am. He was quite excited but as he’d already had quite a bit over Christmas in the UK, he wasn’t exactly dancing about over it.
It wasn’t a lot of snow, and hadn’t really settled on the roads, and I doubt that was due to the local council having the forethought to grit in advance. And, as predicted, the weather really wasn’t cold enough for it to stick around too long. The only reason that it lasted so long where we live is because we’re so high up. The thing was, after the initial magical feeling that I wanted to share with Smelly, the usual gloom quickly came back, disproving my theory that snow could make Ankara pretty. As I looked out of the window all I could see were the pillars of concrete that make up the newly ‘developed’ housing in this ever-expanding, sprawling mass of a place. A few years ago this really wasn’t the case. We lived in a different part of the same area, and while there was a lot of construction taking place all around us, there were still many more of the gecekondu’s too. When the snow came then, it would cover the low roofs of those houses, and the messy areas surrounding them (as many Turks seem to have an aversion to gardens in the true sense of the word), but it would somehow make things feel a bit quaint. But perhaps more significantly it would give an illusion of space, I’d look out and see all the white below.
Now though, with the development continuing and apartments taking over from small houses, I look out and while there may be patches of space with snow, mostly it’s just roads, and if I look across, just different coloured concrete walls of the apartments springing up everywhere. To get any sense of space these days I have to look up to the sky, which explains why I live on the top floor of an apartment on one of the highest hills in this city.
It’s snowing again now, but so lightly that it simply makes the ground look like it’s covered in a morning frost. The forecast says that it won’t last, that rain will come to wash it away, along with all the mud that seems to never go away here, that the weather will get colder, even to the usual sub-zero temperatures that are normal here for this time of year, but no more snow for the next week at least. So the magical feeling, that could have taken away some of the gloom that seems to fill me these days, is probably not going to come either. It may have made a difference if there were enough that lasted just a couple of days, and perhaps see the kids come out and play in it, but even that would be tinged with sadness as there are no safe parks round here and they’re certainly not suitable for usual snow related activities like sledging. Perhaps the other kids will come out a speed down the hill on tin trays, or plastic bags, but Smelly won’t be joining them as I’d just be too scared. The only place vaguely suitable is so steep and rocky with a road at the end.
It would seem that my friend was right all along, and that my suggestion that snow could have a magical effect and make even the ugliest places somewhat prettier, was wrong. Although if I were still trying to be charitable I would revise my comment to say thick fog or darkness.