Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Mid Snow and Ice

I had to will myself to get through from Christchurch to Blenheim this afternoon... I was having such a nice time chatting with Fr Clement and his parishioners after Mass, but tore myself away at noon, filled up the car with petrol and got going. Despite some light rain and sleet (that's when you see snow falling but it hits the car as water, isn't it?) all was well and I had lunch at Cheviot (welsh rarebit, of all things).
The road through the coastal hills to the Kaikoura road gave me my first taste of things to come, with two stretches of snow on the road, albeit well cut through by earlier traffic. I was glad, and became gladder as I drove on, that I hadn't driven through this morning...
Driving along the coast road to Kaikoura was great, but I stopped in Kaikoura itself (the town sits on a richly fertile peninsula entirely hemmed about by great mountains and the sea, with the Seaward Kaikouras rising to 2000m straight out of the ocean, and the Inland Kaikouras even higher) unsure whether to go on, for the weather ahead looked very grim. Locals persuaded me to try, though they told me that there was snow to the north, right on Cook Strait at Picton...
Past Clarence - which is at sea level - there was snow on the road again, and from Kekerengu to Wharanui, right along the coast, the snow was high enough to scrape along the bottom of the car as I very slowly drove through it. (I have never driven in snow before, though I have been a passenger in a car passing through snowy country back in Tasmania years ago.) There was one car crashed off the road.
I had not known before of the many steep ranges of hills still to be negotiated along the road through the old province of Marlborough, between the coast and Blenheim, my destination. Before and after the town of Ward snow lay on the road, and also before Seddon - indeed, right by Lake Grassmere, at sea level! For me, the last unpleasant surprise was thick snow on the Wither Hills between the Awatere valley and the Wairau (where sits Blenheim), which haven't seen snow for 25 years, or so the locals tell me. At least the precipitous and winding road up and down them was clear, though it was nearly dark by the time I got through. Did I mention the huge glowering snowclouds? I do feel the Hand of Providence in that a patch of blue sky seemed to be following me along the way, whatever of the rest of the firmament above.
I said many prayers to my guardian Angel, to Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus. Once finished, I flopped on my knees and gave thanks! Very uncourageous of me I know, but I'm not used to driving through snow.

2 comments:

Terra said...

Glad you made it safely, your guardian angel must certainly have been working overtime! It sounds terrifying - I know those roads, which are bad at the best of times (unless they've improved dramatically in recent years!), and driving through snow is always challenging (unless you've got that Canadian 'let's all go slippy sliding together and so what if someone ends up in a ditch' mentality)!

Joshua said...

Thanks, Terra - I must say, those who know me and my history of suffering a quite terrfiying car accident, with consequent fear of twisting country roads, will be astonished that I've come so far: so all thanks are due Heaven for bolstering my native inability. After driving in New Zealand I can almost say I've overcome, God willing, the consequences of that Pentecost Sunday back in 1994 (or was it 1995?) - until now I hadn't realized that yesterday was the anniversary of that fateful day I nearly died in a crash.