Not only does snow have a smell, but it also has a very particular way of filtering light as it sneaks into the apartment on winter mornings. In all honestly, calling it light might be an overstatement, it is more a state of darkness that is incomplete, an undecided darkness, a confused darkness, a darkness akin to panicking in front of a shelf of fifteen brands of strawberry yoghurt and having no idea what to do with yourself and your life. Then suddenly panicky darkness has a slight twinkle, like sugar frosting, and when you pull the curtains aside, there it is indeed, snow.
Delighted by my discovery, I dashed out into the crisp morning- the first five seconds of winter mornings are invariably crisp to me, crisp is a good, solid, wholesome kind of cold, and then at second six it turns into the exact temperature of a lifeless Antarctic wilderness. So it’s important to decide, at second four, that the fickle nature of Budapest snows requires that I immediately veer left at Oktogon and check out Városliget, before pretty candy sugar snow turns into vile muddy slush.
Having reached my target I start circling a tree and inspecting my footsteps in the pristine snow (a delight surpassed only by carefully cracking the surface of frozen puddles with the tip of your shoe), feeling a bit like both Winnie the Pooh and Piglet all at once and expecting the prints of a woozle to join mine, when they do exactly that, only the woozle is a hyperactive beagle frolicking around at a speed which makes his owner’s attempts of uploading him to some sort of social media utterly quixotic. He later ambushes me by the side of the lake and I again realize I am simply shoddily designed for winter, I slip easily and loathe the feeling of an unreliable surface under my feet.
The lake looks like a promising idea though, with ducks and gulls smugly warming up in the thermal water, reminding me of the profoundly relaxed faces of Japanese arctic monkeys (I am not sure they are called exactly that, I just had to use the name of one of my favourite bands if I could) floating in hot pools while the snow covers their heads. There is of course the ulterior moment when they must clamber out with soggy fur, but that was never shown on television, or I simply don’t remember it: they are forever suspended in the dizzying beatitude of heat enveloping you while winter rages all around.
On the other side, despite the early hour, some people have taken to the skating rink, and they have thus deserved my undying respect for waking up on a freezing winter morning and deciding that the best thing to do with it is risking your limbs and life to zig zag around a vast expanse of ice on two narrow blades. In a beautiful alignment of coincidences, I recently came around this little snippet here, in which two Arctic Monkeys converge on considering figure skating awe inspiring too, which thus makes three of us. At least. This was also the moment when my fingers turned white- I googled the symptoms and they ARE an actual disease, Raynaud’s namely, perhaps because slightly debilitating conditions sound more soothing in French and thus decided that it’s time to dash for the dubious but nevertheless comforting warmth of Metro line 1. The snow went on falling for one more hour or so, and then, as all fickle Budapest snows, turned into slush.