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It’s Not That Bad (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

Regular readers of Daily Life will know that I have on several occasions written about the weather and how awful it is.

I won’t deny that I am guilty of complaining about the weather but there is also another reason for the regular feature of weather talk in my columns.

Winter in Iceland is at its best a hilarious social experience for the insane and at its worst, an experience that consumes the mind and body with dread and horror.

A quiet winter day, the kind of day when it’s cold but the air so still that the only thing moving are the waves crashing on the frozen particles of sand, is rare. And when it comes, it’s an opportunity to seize.

But on a bad day, when the wind howls and shrieks in freezing temperatures, the mind and body looks for shelter.

The definition of bad weather, however, varies from one person to another.

If you are like me, and you are wearing a thick parka, woolen gloves and hat, as well as proper winter boots, on a cold snowy day, don’t ask the person who is dressed in a thin layer of clothing and seems not to notice the cold. Ask the local that is dressed like you what the weather is going to be like.

As an Icelander with absolutely no tolerance for cold, I can tell you that despite living on the same rock, locals have a very different understanding of what counts as bad weather and when it’s time to seek shelter and wait it out.

This winter has proven that on numerous occasions.

The reply the tough and cold-loving Icelander will give you, is more often than not: “the weather is not that bad,” or “it’s just a little blizzard, nothing to worry about.”

While I have no doubt that these people are absolutely in their element in this climate, I am not and the traveling visitors now coming to explore Iceland may very well share my sentiment.

On the stormy day when my car broke down on top of a hill, several people around me weren’t so sure this was going to be an awful day. There was after all no snow and no icing to worry about.

But I knew these very same people have far better tolerance for bad weather than I do, so I knew that it was bad weather to me. As it turned out, it was pretty bad weather that managed to rip out the roots of old trees and even moved cars around in places higher above the sea level.

As adults, we can decide whether to go out when the weather is bad or not. It’s up to us and we are supposed to me mature enough to make the right decision. Of course, that’s not always the case but I think in most cases people make the right decision for themselves.

But with children it’s different.

Throughout this awful winter, there have been so many storms and blizzards that I’ve lost count. I have on numerous occasion had to cancel a visit to my family or a run because of bad weather. I love running but I have no interest in catching a cold while at it or breaking a leg or two in the ice.

We know sports are great for kids. Kids should get used to exercising and have loads of fun doing it.

But when the training takes place outside in the middle of winter, I sometimes wonder whether it’s not too much to stick to the schedule and train outdoors on days when the weather is horrid.

Just over a week ago, on a Saturday afternoon when the wind blew fiercely and snow covered the grounds, I walked past the neighborhood sports ground and saw to my surprise a group of kids playing soccer with a few parents and probably a trainer too.

There was no shelter from the wind and as I walked past with my dog Emma leading the way, I couldn’t help wondering whether this was at all a good idea. Earlier that day, I had decided against going for a run because the wind was just too strong and grounds slippery in parts.

In my opinion, the responsible thing would have been to cancel the training or train indoors.

Sometimes, the weather really is that bad!

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir(at)gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.