I have an ex-bucket. It was my mop bucket and over the years since we first moved into this house it has done stirling work in the matter of kitchen floors, the removal of mud from the hallway and all things that can be covered by the spine chilling phrase “potty training”. But alas, the spout started to crack and the little squeeze strainer thing that clips onto one end reached the end of its natural life and started to shatter shards of plastic every time you pressed down to squeeze. And so it was replaced, and I put the old bucket out by our recycling bins to await the day when I had time to take it down to the recycling centre to commence a new life as part of a bin bag or something similar. That was, well let’s just say a few months ago, and over the course of the autumn it’s gradually filled with rainwater and the occasional leaf.
And what happens to water when the temperature dips to -5 overnight?
Ice. We prodded it, watched the warmth of our hands make little fingertip dimples in the ice, prodded it some more and wondered how thick the ice was.
So I took it around to the back garden, upended it and for moment, nothing. The three of us stood their watching silently and then with an almighty crash the weight of the water behind the ice won out, it shattered and with a whumph and a splash, leafy water and chunks of ice came flooding across the patio. The girls, clad in wellies (and fancy dress naturally) got stuck straight in to this most wonderful new puddle while I (wearing Birkenstocks) scuttled hurriedly backwards.
For Elma it was all about the puddle, she took a while to get around to the ice, but Kitty, with two more years of puddle experience than her sister, wanted to know a bit more. So we poked at the spiky bits left in the bucket and picked up the big chunks lying on the patio and dropped them to watch them break apart as they hit the ground.
And it was then that Kitty realised that she could make one of her dreams come true, she could be Elsa, she could indeed stamp her foot and have ice shoot out in all directions from under her wellyboot – even dressed as Snow White.
I’d love to claim I’d planned it all out as a serious learning experience for the girls after serious and devoted research on the internet but frankly I’d forgotten about the bucket until I ventured out into the insanely cold and frosty morning to put the milk bottle in the plastics bag, and an old mop bucket isn’t exactly Pinterest worthy is it? Although Kitty’s nursery do have winter as their topic at the moment (they’ve built a great igloo out of cereal boxes) so perhaps I could claim to be linking in to that. Or not.
I have no idea what Kitty learnt about ice, if anything. I know Elma cemented her love of puddles, not that she needed any more convincing about their merits, and I learnt that if the kids are having a really ratty day I can make a great puddle for them to splash in by tipping a bucket of water over our back patio.
But most of all, it was fun. As anything that starts with curiosity and ends with a full scale performance of Let It Go is always going to be.