Thursday, 7 January 2010
In the end, snow replaced the ice. For a day or so, the temperature rose to freezing - or higher - and I watched the flakes and remembered past winters.
Once snow mesmerised me as I sat in an exam room. For forty minutes I watched the snowfall through the window, past the faded print of a blue and gold nativity that hung above the teacher's desk. Suddenly I saw the clock and realised I should have been writing but ink on paper in a test of skill seemed less important than a snowfall.
When I was small, there was a harsh winter when snowdrifts were taller than me. I was eight and one morning, before breakfast, my 5-year-old brother and I dressed ourselves, left a note and went out to play in the snow while our mother slept. We found big boys on the slope behind the library, sailing downhill on torn pieces of cardboard boxes. They let us join them. The speed and thrill must have warmed us for, when we returned to the flat, we weren't cold at all. It's only Mum's concern that remind me that we'd gone out dressed in shorts and T-shirts.
The snow is compacting now and turning to thick ice on the pavements and pathways. Soon I'll head to the station, kitted for a trek instead of the usual stroll. I'm still staying in when I can, wishing I could curl with the cat in front of the fire. But two days ago, when I had to leave the house, snow lay newly bright on paths, leaves and branches and diamonds of ice sparkled from the pavement. Even in my tame suburb, sheltered from the worst of winter, I felt for a few moments an old delight in the fierce beauty of the world.