Today, Wednesday 13 July 2016, it snowed in Canberra.
And it really snowed. In some places it was just a light dusting on cars, if that. But in others, like Cook in Belconnen, it snowed, and the snow stuck – at least for a little while. And when I arrived at the foot of Mt Painter before 9am to experience it for myself, it was still snowing – flakes drifting around us. I walked past a woman bundling her two children out of her car and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “How great is this!” and she quickly returned, “Snow beautiful!” It was the perfect pun and it summed up how I felt.
I had a great morning and I’m so glad I took the time to really get amongst it in a playful way: firstly because I knew I could, given in Belconnen we have easy access to these amazing hills; secondly, because a day like this where the snow really sticks for even an hour or two in the suburbs is just so rare; and finally – most importantly – because I’d had to really weigh up giving up a few hours of the morning where I’d usually be campaigning hard, knocking on as many doors as possible and holding shopping centre stalls. My personal motto for the campaign is “Don’t take any day for granted”, but this time the weather forecast – and subsequently my experience with the weather – had me convinced to write the whole day off. Sure, a quick frolic in the snow is fun for a bit, but not while campaigning.
So, for the better part of the morning I’d decided I’d have a snow day. (After all, I have plenty of campaign admin work to get on with!)
But a few hours later I found myself back campaigning – knocking on doors throughout the afternoon and holding a stall at a local shopping centre in the evening. And the weather that resulted in the morning magic was of course interfering with effective campaigning – it was cold, it was sleeting, it was cold, it was windy, it was cold, and it was cold. The apparent temperature didn’t get above 2 degrees for the entire day. Throughout the afternoon and evening, the part of me that wanted to write the whole day off was wondering what on earth I was doing. Why are you out here?
As expected, a lot of people commented on me campaigning in this sort of weather. But unexpectedly, the most common comment was that I was ‘brave’. “You’re brave to be out in this weather,” I kept hearing. While it’s an offhand comment and I very much appreciated the sentiment, it still puzzled me – there are plenty of adjectives for what I was doing, but I felt rather embarrassed about being called brave.
Later in the day – after quietening the part of me who wanted to go home for the nth time – I realised that it’s not that I’m brave. It’s that I’m determined. I’m determined to talk to as many people as possible. To listen. To get the best understanding of the issues in the community so that I can help do something about them.
It’s that determination that propels me. And it’s that determination that will continue to send me out campaigning in weather like today’s.