Winter treasure 11: Proper Snow

Winter scene4/3/2018 Snow is a rare component of our winters these days. Since December I have considered including it amongst my winter highlights; after all, we’ve had more of it this year than in the last five years. But after observing my reactions to the earlier episodes of snow this winter, I decided that, although I like snow if I don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t necessarily count it amongst my favourite natural phenomena. I certainly love going for creaky walks in the subdued countryside, and will gleefully go sledging (even down the small hills in my garden), build a snowman or have a snowball fight. But we rarely have enough snow for sledging, and snowmen and snowballs usually have a fair quantity of mud, twigs and leaves mixed in. It’s just not quite the real thing.

I also find snow a little disconcerting. Although it can be fun to have a little white interlude, and the reactions of my animals make me laugh – the chickens tried to avoid stepping in it the first time it appeared – I am generally quite relieved when the garden and countryside gradually melt back into their usual colours. I get more of a thrill out of hoar frost, in truth, but we get even less of that than snow.

The latest snowfall was different, however. It was proper snow. I wasn’t sure how I felt about arriving back in England to freezing temperatures after a sunny holiday in Spain: the temperature there had reached 17˚C the day before. Thankfully I got home just before the disruption began: eight inches of snow fell the next morning, and remained for four days. To my surprise, after my initial concern about the urgent necessity of a vet visit for one of my chickens (my neighbour kindly took me in her four-wheel drive), I found myself wholeheartedly entering into the spirit of being ‘snowed in’.

Winter roadSnow goats

Barely recognising the road outside my house felt thoroughly magical. I loved the sense of the world coming to a standstill, and having to deal with basic necessities such as defrosting the animals’ water several times a day and clearing the solar panels. The goats accompanied me to the top of the garden, dancing and leaping, apparently having a great time, even though they wouldn’t go out in the snow without me.

I didn’t manage any snowman building or sledging. My first attempt to go for a walk was a failure: I slipped and hit my head, which left me with a lingering headache and little appetite for further sub-zero walks or sledging attempts over the following days. I managed one short walk yesterday, but spending most of my time indoors didn’t detract from the fun. Refreshed by my holiday, I found renewed motivation to get on with half-completed or long-put-off jobs: sorting and clearing, painting the hallway cupboard, looking for beams behind my bedroom walls as a first step towards the next bout of refurbishments… The uninterrupted days were productive, and having no other option but to stay at home was somehow invigorating.

Winter gardenThis morning, the air is mild, the sun is shining, the thatch is dripping and the icicles have all but disappeared. The garden is quickly turning green, and the animals are enjoying their first proper outing in days.

I notice in myself a distinct feeling of disappointment that it didn’t last just a little longer. By tomorrow, everything will be back to normal.