How You Respond To Snow Says A Lot About You

Lauren Booth
5 min readMar 13, 2022

Istanbul snow in March is an abomination — And some here insist on seeing the plus side.

When I was 11. we had monumental snowfall in London. Not the sleety, slushy, usual, stuff. Giant, magic, fluffing down upon our noses snow, landing in metres not inches. My mum, in her forties, and in hindsight probably peri menopausal, looked out the window, cigarette in hand tutting one word over and over.

‘AWFUL!’

‘It must be horrible being a grown up’ I shouted as she refused yet again to come outside and play with my sister and I. In a quote that became parental legend, I added.

‘Adults don’t do ANYTHING fun!’

Then I booted up, belting outside for hours of freezing white, burial games, driving equally grumpy neighbours nuts with the screams of myself and my friends.

Fast forward four decades and I haven’t left my Istanbul apartment for a working week. Why? Because of the unseasonable freeze that has descended upon us allegedly from Siberia (You may want to blame Russia, but let’s not). I look outside atleast once an hour, then go back to my writing or chores.

So can our snow-response really tell us who we are as an adult?

In our hectic, modern lives, we are conned into focusing on work and commitments. Having ‘pure fun’ seems like a waste of earning or learning time.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, did we stop playing?

Zoning out in front of a screen is not playing by the way, just to be clear. The flickering screen flips us into a partially alive version of ourselves and great swathes of our grey matter just goes into a semi-sleep. Whereas play, that sparks us up, rejuvenates our body and mind. It even has the power to make us fall in love with our spouse again, as we see that fun, sweet, childlike side, beneath the crisp, businesslike or falling-apart stresshead, character we have both fallen into.

In Istanbul Adults Become Children Really Quickly

Flicking my drapes aside, I watch from our third floor windows, the nightly snowball fights taking place. Adults versus kids, entire families taking eachother on. Until almost midnight, the shouts and squeals and laughter float up as I stand static, warm, protected behind double glazing.

It’s not just my area where locals appear to have lost their collective adultness, either. A group of residents in this vast metropolis took advantage of the heavy snowfall to build an igloo in their neighborhood, Sultangazi.

The neighborhood children had fun, while older residents sat inside the ice house brewing Turkish tea (what else?).

Residents in the igloo, Istanbul, Turkey, March 12, 2022. (DHA Photo)

A resident, Recep Torun, said

“We all gathered together and built it. We invented our house while everyone was making a snowman. We made tea in our samovar. The weather was also nice.”

In this part of Turkey, through the inconvenience and the high cost of keeping the roads safe, local leaders espouse the fact that latest figures by Istanbul Water and Sewage Administration (ISKI) indicate good news for the city from the eventual melt, which assuages the real threat of water scarcity amid the climate crisis.

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away?

My granddad was a jolly man, full of laughter into his eighties. We all miss him so much. I took him with my eldest daughter to a ski resort in France when we lived there. He agreed to be pushed downhill on a bit of plastic without proper clothing protection, just his sheepskin coat and normal slacks. I almost DIED laughing. I fell to the ground at the top of the slope, gasping for air, ice tears, clinging to my cheeks as he made all kinds of weird sounds, plummeting between bemused families. Both of us realising, as he reached the half-way point, that at 75, he would now have to climb back up, dragging the sled with him!

Even Prophets Knew The Importance of Family Fun

Aisha, the beloved wife of Prophet Muhammed, peace upon him, reported that she and her husband, were on a journey. Aisha said, “I raced him on foot and I outran him, but when I gained some weight, I raced him again and he outran me. The Prophet said: This is for that race.” He espoused the goodness of sharing enjoyment in marriage.

I Am NOT a Grumpy Git

It’s my boots that aren’t right. You see, I left my cold weather boots back in our UK home where I believed, wrongly, they would be most use. The only reason I am not outside hurling myself about like a fool is that I can’t. I tried to go out at the start of this and tottered along in slippy, posh boots, like a person in their eighties needing both hips replaced.

I long to hurl myself into the fray, skid, slide, down hill. Build a snow-imam and best of all hurl snowballs at my hubby who is a genuine winter grinch.

Multiple studies into good stuff from happiness, to satisfaction in play. George Bernard Shaw hit the nail on the head.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

I’m going to the UK next wekk and I will pick up my boots. If you have good healthm then join men and let’s throw snowballs for those who have forgotten how.

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Lauren Booth

Author of ‘In Search of A Holy Land’ (2021). Writer and performer of the acclaimed one-woman show ‘Accidentally Muslim.’