Monday, January 25, 2010

Snow by Aukje de Vries

Hi, I am back as blogger for Global Action on Aging. Maybe you remember that last year I shared with you my experiences as an active older person, living in The Netherlands. I stopped by the time spring came and I was about to go to some conferences abroad and had quite a few travel plans, so I knew I would not be in a position to keep writing for GAA. I still do not have a laptop and even if I had had one, I would not have taken it with me while travelling or on holidays. But the first few months of 2010 seem fairly quiet so I will be glad to have a go at some more weeks of writing about my life here in The Hague.

It is a cold city, I am writing from. We have had an unusually long cold spell, and right now it continues to be around 0 degrees Centigrade, light frost during the night and sometimes a little bit above zero during the day. There has also been snow and rain and a lot of streets are very slippery, covered with snow or ice. My friend and neighbour Esther and I are determined to try our best not to break our bones while going out. Last Friday, when the streets looked a bit better, we did a lot of food shopping, so we don’t have to go out the coming few days.

Yesterday I stayed inside all day because it was snowing, but today I want to go out. I am used to walking or biking about an hour a day. This is a rule of life, which my mother already taught me and I have experienced that I feel better when I get sufficient exercise. Right now I also want to escape from the very dry air in my house, caused by the central heating.

The street is too slippery to walk on so I use a contraption, which I bought years ago. It consists of broad elastic bands to be put around my shoes with iron spikes under the forefoot. Indeed, this works very well when I walk on snow, but on the bare pavement it feels horrible.

Therefore I decide to go to a small park not far from my house, where I usually do not walk, but this time it is nice to go there, the snow is still on the paths and grounds.

Over the weekend there was an article in the newspaper about older people who live in neigbourhoods where the snow is not removed so that older people do not dare go out and are completely dependent on help from neighbours or others, which can be problematic.

Fortunately Esther and I can still manage, even though our street is not cleaned.

Dear Reader, Do you, like me, turn to old but useful tools or “contraptions” to keep you safe outdoors or help you in the home? Please tell me about them. And I am also wondering if you find yourself snowbound and isolated because the authorities have not cleared the streets or roads? How does this make you feel?


  1. In South of France, when it snows a lot, life stops... People of any age stay home and avoid roads as much as possible as the region is not equipped to clean the infrastructures quickly. Luckily it does not snow often, but when it does, older persons are definetely isolated and snowbound.

  2. I so enjoyed Ankje's blog last year and delighted to read her again. Here in London it was very cold and with ice under the snow was quite scary. Visiting my 91 year old mother in law in her nursing home just round the corner became quite a trial as it was up a steep hill (uncleared with the cars skidding all over the place) and then down a steep hill (more skidding cars). But at least 2 days last week I could get some exercise in the local park and see and hear the birds preparing for Spring. Even managed to dig in the garden yesterday (relatively warm at 7C but today, back to freezing, with a sharp north wind making it feel like -4C. Back indoors again to make marmalade.

  3. Rosa said. . .

    In the rural parts of the Midwest, often the highway crews can't plough the secondary roads that link two lane highways. We depend on our younger neighbors' kindness to come over with a tractor and snow plough. Since the snow often comes on top of ice, this can be a bit dangerous for our good-hearted neighbors. We try to keep enough food and water in the house so we can eat and drink. Some farms depend on electric heating; if the lines go down in a storm, then our small homes turn very cold, very fast. I much prefer the summertime.