It’s white and cold – still February

This was today. This is winter in the village. Saturday – I woke up late (10am, shameful) to find more snow falling. Forecast is dire. Fridge close to empty, gas bottle getting light. If I don’t go down to Zarnesti NOW, I might be stuck for weeks. So…

Car under tarpaulin so that’s okay – no shovelling of snow off the vehicle. But the battery is dead as the proverbial dodo. Trudge up to the neighbour and beg for help. He’s happy, as ever, and cracks open the crocodile clips and the power pack with the longest cable imaginable – about half a mile of it, seemingly. Bonnet up, clips clipped to battery, men retire to shed, I sit in chilly car while juice flows to battery. Now then I try the ignition and slowly, slowly, there are signs of life. After 20 minutes, the ignition roars. I hoot for neighbours and they come back, unclip clips and carry on with their day. I owe them beer and more.

Off to Zarnesti. Gas bottle swapped (69 lei today), Husqvarna chainsaw chain not to be had anywhere, not even for ready money. Off to Lidl to stock up on cat food and me food, for a siege. Snow bucketing down, blotting out all but nearby buildings. Magura hills invisible under snowful low cloud. Shoppers scurrying in and out, wrapped in fleeces, hats, scarves, boots. Intent on doing only the necessary before retreating to warm homes.

Me too. Scurry to car, load up and flee. Not really cold, just -2.5C, so nothing is freezing yet. The car pootles unconcernedly into the national park and up the hairpin road, snow settling fast but not yet icing over. Even the north-facing track, with new snow on the old iced ruts, is no problem for my heroic little car.

Do I drive down to the house with my heavy shopping and the full gas bottle – and risk being snowed in for two weeks? Or drag the gas bottle down, then make two more journeys for the shopping? Lazy. Drive down, unload, and spread the tarpaulin.

Shopping in, then have to go out and get wood from shed to light fire. Feed cats, who missed lunch.

All urgent wintery chores done, it’s 3.30pm. On with my postponed working day….

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Icy white Carpathian January

Forget frost – this is the real Transylvanian, Carpathian, Central European start to the New Year… Hard winter, knee deep powder, frozen pipes, icy fingers, cats by the fire, sun making diamond dust of the snow… Happy New Frozen Year!

Snowing hard to little effect

It’s been snowing hard all day today, but it doesn’t seem to have added much to the existing snowfall – about 20 cms with deeper drifts in the windy corridors. It’s not particularly cold, so snow has fallen off roofs leaving only icing sugar.

I’m expecting it to freeze hard tonight, though, so it should be crisp and deep and even tomorrow. Just right for a visiting Bohemian king and his page.

Magura Transylvania, winter, snow, Carpathian mountains, Romania, Transylvania, mountains in winter

Vine iarna! Winter’s coming…

Last year we had a surprise snowfall on 11th October, before the apples had been picked. The weight of the snow on trees still in leaf was too much for some, and there quite a few broken branches around the village. This year the snow waited for another two weeks – it arrived yesterday as a herald of the winter to come.

My kittens weren’t fazed for long – the two summer-born kittens were out exploring and enjoying the sensation of paws sinking through the inch (2cm) of snow that fell in the first half hour.

This morning the sun came out fighting, blazing in a cloudless sky and driving the winter back. We have our autumn colours in Magura again, but more snow is promised tomorrow.

We’ll see. With luck we’ll have a few more weeks of autumn.

But winter is coming to Transylvania, and it’s rumoured to be worse than last year. The cats love it, the kids love it, and the snow brings lots of visitors to Piatra Craiului national park. Great for the winter sports fans, for visitors coming to track bears, wolves and lynx in the snow, and for walkers and climbers who love an icy challenge.

But for some of us, winter is time to retreat to the warmest room and dig out the thermal vests.