For the last week, I've been casting worried glances at the weather reports. My iPad has a neat weather app that predicts the weather five days out for any city in the world, including major airports. I was honed in on Friday, when Daughter Number One was scheduled to arrive at Heathrow.
You see, last year she was due to arrive right at the very moment snow was blanketing the runways at Heathrow. Watching her flight on radar, I saw it circle the airport several times, a typical maneuver as planes stack up. The snow here (twenty minutes from Heathrow) had stopped, so when the flight disappeared off radar I figured it had landed.
No, Flight 78 had headed in the opposite direction, to Charles de Gaulle in Paris. The plane landed safely (the French clear their runways très vite), disgorged its passengers, and there it stayed, well, until it was redirected to Miami a day later.
The passengers weren't so lucky. Holiday travelers found themselves stranded in Paris with no way to reschedule a flight to Heathrow, which remained essentially closed for days. This was Saturday; by Monday afternoon, we realized there was no way Heathrow (and its operator, BAA) could figure out how to remove five inches of snow from their runways (despite my many tweets offering to help). My husband announced he was driving to Paris and as he left, I booked his passage through Eurotunnel.
Long (and frustrating) story short, Daughter Number One (and two fellow passengers she met while stranded) finally were repatriated early in the morning of the Winter Solstice. (We of course immediately left for Stonehenge, to pay homage to the sun in hopes it would never abandon us again.)
So flash forward to this year: When the forecast predicted snow and sleet for Friday morning, I was concerned. No, that's too mild a word. All the anger and frustration I'd felt a year ago rose to the surface. For the last two years, we've had snow in December. Not that unusual, not even here in balmy England. Yet the locals reacted as if the Germans had launched a modern Blitz. Schools were cancelled, minor roads were impassable, sidewalks remained icy and dangerous for a week. Urban myths warning people not to clear their pavement (sidewalk) propagated: if you do, and someone slipped, you'd be liable to be sued, since you actually interfered with Mother Nature.
Well, I don't know about Mother Nature, but this mother was pissed. I wanted to scream at my lazy neighbors who didn't bother clearing their sidewalks, hurl insults at the idiots from BAA who appeared on the Beeb defending themselves for not knowing how to clear a few inches of snow from the busiest runway in the world.
I started the 2010 holidays off in a bad mood. So I didn't want to repeat that this year. When we saw huge fat snowflakes falling around nine a.m., I panicked. But the travel gods were on our side this year: the snow stopped, never accumulating, and Daughter's plane, delayed out of Dallas, landed an hour late. By the time we picked her up at Heathrow, the sun was shining and Mother Nature, I swear to god, was smiling.
Happy holidays. I'll try not to hit you if you wish for a white Christmas. Really. I'm over that.