Is the winter equivalent of “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, “if storms give you only the tiniest dusting of snow, make a teeny tiny snowman”?
But any snow is better than no snow and you have to make the best with what you’ve got, which would be why at 7.30 in the morning I was stood in the garden watching the girls slush up and down an increasingly brown lawn. Never have wellies and waterproofs been put on so quickly as when my little girls opened the curtains on a smattering of white, and I’ll admit I was just as keen to get out in it as they were. It’s the magic of snow, it has never ever got old for me, probably because in the UK I know it’s not going to last. My absolute favourite winter was the year that Kitty was born when we had snow on the ground for a couple of weeks and it was just so beautiful.
But today, even with our meagre offering we got to playing. Kitty scooped up all the snow off one of our garden chairs to make a miniature snow blob which she proudly took back inside the house and upstairs to drip onto a sleeping H, while Elma tried to make snow balls and throw them across the grass. It’s what we did the last time she saw snow, at the top of Gornergrat in Switzerland in August, but a Swiss summer has a lot more of the white fluffy stuff than a Warwickshire winter.
Pip was initially not terribly interested, he just loves being outside, but then he realised what Elma was doing and started to copy her, picking up individual snowflakes off the slide and hurling them all around him.
It was too cold to be out for too long, and of course by the time we’d warmed up again, so had the garden, and only a puddly snowman remained.
So to make up for it we decided it was the perfect afternoon to try out a little snow painting.
First up: Salt snow.
We have some pots of liquid watercolours and I diluted a little down into some glass ramekins while the watercolour paper soaked. Wet on wet watercolours are great fun at the best of times; even with just one colour you can get some amazing swirls and patterns depending on the concentration of paint and it’s very therapeutic – like the whole colouring in craze but even simpler – and it’s fascinating how the four of us get so very different results.
Pip favours the pour as much paint on the paper and then use that to paint your head technique, Elma goes for big broad stripes and Kitty and I had lots of storm cloud sorts of swirls.
And then came the salt. It’s as simple as take a pinch of sea salt and scatter it onto the wet paint; the salt soaks up the paint leaving beautiful ‘snowflakes’ in the storm clouds when they’re dried. It works best if your paint is quite wet (hence the wet on wet watercolours) and you don’t use too much salt. Too much and it all blends into to one wonderful blizzard like speckle, which is pretty but not very snowy.
While that was drying we moved on to experiment number two: salt solution painting.
The idea is that you make a fully saturated salt solution (put some warm water in a jar and keep adding salt until you can’t get any more of it to dissolve) and then use that to paint snowflakes on dark paper. The idea is that when it dries you’re left with snowflakes made up of tiny crystals and it all looks very wintery.
Ours looked great when they were wet but I think we didn’t have the solution strong enough because I can just about see at the edges what it’s supposed to look like, but it was a bit of a fail. I’m told doing it again with Epsom salts instead of sea salt might be the answer so we will have to give that a go soon.
I really want to make some wintery window stars this week too as ours are looking a little bit battered around the edges. According to the forecast our weather is getting wetter and warmer as the week goes on and that might just have been our one and only chance at snow so in lieu of waking up to 6′ snowdrifts (which I would adore), we’ll just have to craft up a storm instead.