When I was little I longed for winters that was sharply cold, where every cloud meant snow and the greens faded under a blanket of soft white that lasted for weeks. I lived in Devon, on the coast, it was a tad unrealistic, though it did hail a lot one Easter that we could almost have counted it as snow. When I moved about as far away from the sea as you can get I thought we’d get more snow and in truth we’ve had a few good dustings over the years, but nothing, nothing in my whole life has been as snowy as the last weekend.
On Friday morning when I got up the world was the dark black of winter sky and cold wet ground. I peered out of the windows hoping to convince myself that the stripes in the variegated ivy at the bottom of the path were really tiny clusters of snowflakes but even my snow optimism can only go so far, and I tucked myself up in the studio to get on with the day’s work. When we opened the curtains an hour and a bit later the world was white. The cars were frosted with a thick coating, the grass had vanished, the bones of the trees had started to be revealed with sharp white highlights and the traffic on our road had all but stopped moving.
The last time my three saw proper snow they were on top of a Swiss mountain, and it was August. They just couldn’t get into their coats and hats and wellies fast enough and I’m not ashamed to say that breakfast that day was a picnic in the garden. No one wanted to come inside, not when it was snowing harder every moment. All through that day it snowed and we smiled, noses pressed to the windows, then the sun would come out and I’d worry and will the snow to stay, desperately hoping that it would still be around to play with in the afternoon and when the three of them got back from school I’m not sure they spent a moment inside.
The body of the snowman was made before breakfast, and after lunch they rolled and rolled him around the front garden to pick up all of the morning’s snowfall until we could see the grass again, then made his head and raided the veggie box and the barbeque for eyes and a nose.
He was their pride and joy, and Elma was gutted yesterday when she realised that he’d melted.
Is it a mark of being British, of having no confidence that the snow that was there then would still be here later that we’d saved the back garden snow for the afternoon, and so when they’d used up all of the front garden snow on Mr Snowman, they went to explore the rest.
Our garden is basically flat but there’s one little slope where the garden has been landscaped up and away from the level, where in the summer a gentle grassy path will take you up to an arbor underneath the apple trees. In greener days Pip uses it as a bike run, pushing off at the top and freewheeling all the way to the bottom lawn and now it proved the perfect spot for some very gentle tobogganing. It’s a short run, but it gave all three of them the chance to feel what real sledging might be like.
By the time I finished work it was dark, but Pip and Elma were still game to be out and about in the garden; the snow was all but gone underfoot, scooped up into sculptures and snow runs and bundled aboard sledges to be dragged around the garden – as well as one tell tale snowy smudge mere inches away from the kitchen window. It was perfect and as we tucked ourselves into the house on Friday night I thought how lucky we’d been to have a proper snow day.
That’s the second mark of being British – even then we didn’t really believe the forecast for Sunday.
But Sunday was when the magic happened. This time the world was muffled in white; the snow had covered the road and the cars and the snowman and everything under a thick blanket. Our sledges, left in the middle of the lawn the night before, were barely visible lumps and the snow just kept on falling.
A friendly tractor ploughed a single pathway down the middle of our road but the tarmac was barely visible before the white whirl started to fill it in again. We postponed Elma’s birthday party and made plans to spend the day in our own snowy bubble. It was perfect.
Eight inches of snow fell that Sunday, even if they’ve all melted away now, and in the afternoon we went sledging down the road just outside our house, all five of us flying down the hill and then climbing back up to do it all over again. Just for a moment, it was the winter of my dreams, and Kitty’s and Pip’s and especially Elma’s. Elma’s one true birthday wish was for there to be snow and she just couldn’t believe that it had come true. Early on Sunday morning John found her standing behind her curtains, staring out into the garden, willing the snow to fall, and it clearly heard her call.
Kitty wasn’t far behind her, and it was wonderful to see how confident she has become in these last few months; jumping on board her sledge and pushing off downhill; her only complaint was that she struggled to steer, a far cry from the little girl who would have been nervous about getting on in the first place.
And as for my Pip Squeak, where there was snow he wanted to roll in it and jump in it and generally just be outside in it until his gloves were sodden and the snow trickled down into his boots, and even then he’d take some persuading to come back inside and warm up. Pip played in the snow right to the very end, when wind and warmth turned it all back into rain, and for a first real experience of a proper snow day, I think it’s going to take some topping!
Two little girls, and their brother too, in the snow in December
(because what else do you do with snow but taste it!)
Do go and say hi to my co-hosts: Donna at What the Redhead Said Natalie at Little Jam Pot Life, Keri-Anne at GingerLily Tea, Amber at Meet the Wildes, and Katie at Mummy Daddy Me. If you’re joining in on Instagram if you use the hashtag #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_ we’ll be able to see them too!