- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

Don’t complain about the snow to Claes Thorson, spokesman for the Embassy of Sweden. He said Swedish people are accustomed to two or three months of snow-covered ground every year.

“It is rather strange that the whole society closes down and everyone stays inside. But I guess it is a comfortable way of life, to stay in and drink your hot cocoa and read your newspapers,” he said.

While dozens of D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools and institutions shut down in the wake of the first big snowstorm of the year, the Swedish Embassy was open.

And were there any snow closings at the Royal Danish Embassy? “Oh, give me a break,” said a receptionist who answered the phone.

Lene Balleby, minister of communication for the Danes, said snow in her country may delay public transportation, but the trains and buses still run.

“I guess it is a little different from your way of life,” she said.

Sylvia Borutova, secretary for the ambassador of the Slovak Republic, said she was busy preparing for today’s meeting between her boss and the ambassador of Norway.

“We usually have much more snow,” Miss Borutova said, adding that schools back home are more likely to close for a virus than for snow.

Diplomats from colder climes find the typical Washingtonian’s reaction to snow unusual, but they are not recommending a change.

“I like this, the way we close down in this weather,” said Miss Borutova. “It was a little funny for me at first, but I liked it.”

Mr. Thorson said his daughter was especially appreciative of the American tradition of shutting schools on snow days — an idea almost unheard of in Sweden.

His 13-year-old, Mr. Thorson said, was “so happy for a day that she could stay in bed.”

Miss Balleby said yesterday’s snowfall would not have been much to talk about in her homeland of Denmark. But it was enough for her to run out first thing in the morning and begin building snowmen.

“I play in it. That is what it is good for, right?” Mrs. Balleby said. “It does feel like home.”

Mr. Thorson said he was very comfortable in the snow, which made him feel like he was home. He was delighted yesterday when he saw someone cruising through Georgetown on cross-country skis.

“I thought, at last something I recognize — ski tracks,” he said.

The Jamaican Embassy could not be reached yesterday for comment.

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