At the risk of sounding hackneyed – because it seems to me that the whole country is talking of nothing else – I have decided to devote today’s post to snow. How could I not? I have now been effectively snowed in (it has been just about possible to walk out but not drive) for forty-eight hours, twenty of those without electricity. And towards the end of March, too! I have been living here for almost twenty years and have seen snow like this only once before, on 25th January 1996. I remember the date because it was Burns Night and also the anniversary of the day on which I got engaged. I was driving home from the library supply company in Scotland at which I was working at the time and narrowly missed having to spend the night in my car on the A66 as the snow came thicker and faster. I remember my sense of relief when I finally made it to Scotch Corner, only to find the A1 gridlocked in both directions. It took me more than four hours to crawl into Leeds, where the traffic had virtually ground to a halt. Eventually I arrived at a roundabout with an adjacent hotel and went in to see if I could get a room for the night. A Burns Night dinner had been taking place there and most of the diners were stranded, so there was a shortage of rooms. However, when I told the receptionist I had driven from Scotland, she was so impressed that she gave me the bridal suite for the night, complete with flowers, fruit and mini bottles of champagne! The irony was that my husband and son were also stranded nearby, but we couldn’t contact each other. In those days, cellphones were rarer; my company had just bought one for me, but none of us had personal mobiles. On the next day, when I finally reached home (having passed my husband’s abandoned car, its roof now neatly bisected by a snow-laden branch), the snow was not as deep then as it is now; and it was the fourth week of January, after all, and not the third week of March! I feel not so much a sense of outrage at this current deluge as one of disbelief: seeing lambs in the snow is one thing, but snow on nesting blackbirds quite another!
Yesterday I also discovered how little can be accomplished without electricity. I couldn’t shower, cook, clean, listen to music, put on the washing machine or do the ironing. Instead I wrote yesterday’s blog-post, made some final adjustments to Almost Love, toasted myself in front of the wood-burning stove, acted as referee between the dog and cat as the occasional skirmish broke out for pole position on the hearthrug and read the first two hundred pages of Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies, my treat to myself when I visited Leeds on Friday (along with a cappuccino and a slice of Belgian chocolate tart). I also meditated on possible plots for my next novel and read last week’s papers for inspiration. The Joss Stone attempted murder case amazes with its improbability. Few writers would dare to invent anything so bizarre!
Most of this was very enjoyable, though I was beginning to feel twitchy by the time that power was restored in the late afternoon. As soon as the lights came back on, I rushed for the shower in case the power bounty proved to be temporary. My husband was more philosophical. He had decided that the opportunity for Saturday ablutions had been and gone and devoted himself instead to clearing away the debris of a day’s accumulated washing-up. (Next time there is a power-cut I must remember that unwashed husband = clean dishes.)
Today it is bitterly cold, although the sun is shining. The snow is being whipped up by the wind and inflicting sharp stings to the face and any other exposed skin. Drifts on the verges are several feet deep, meaning that it is only possible to walk on the roads, which have now mostly been cleared to a single track. Nevertheless, I was determined to go out this morning. I once had a colleague who was sent to work in Canada in the winter months; he said that, for him, cabin fever set in after two or three weeks of snow. I can cope with barely one day! We accompanied the dog on his normal three-mile walk. It took twice as long as usual, but the woods were spectacularly beautiful.
I am including some pictures of my garden, which I took yesterday. The whole of this blog-post is really an excuse to share them!