First Mate’s log, Morningstar, SnowDay 3. 14.05 hours. A Gift of Days
The blizzard has been gently raging for a few hours now, with no sign of abating to the promised rain or sleet. What started as snow grains rapidly changed to smallish flakes, settling on everything they landed on.
There is power in small things which stick together.
We had already had snow a couple of days ago. Some snow had come and settled over the night; all was icy, but once traffic had started to flow – a couple of tractors, some 4-wheel drive vehicles – we ventured out. School – unlike most on the island – was still open for business, much to our surprise, so we had to brave the chaos. The normal twelve minute journey took forty... A few hours in school, then the snow came again, more thickly this time, so, finally, we were all told we could leave: and so... back home again.
Half an hour later, the sun came out, we felt guilty, yet the temperatures started to drop quickly and soon the ground surfaces were treacherously slippy.
That night, a three quarter moon silvered the frozen snow. The road was like glass. A blissful silence, in the absence of traffic of any kind, hung over the fields. And no wind at all, the air seeming to hold its breath before the storm.
That was the first SnowDay, albeit only a half. By evening, The Authorities had decided that school should not open the next day for fear of ice. Good to know in advance. I put an extra duvet on the bed....
Come the morning, Snow Day 2 dawned crisp, cold (-2 degrees) and sunny. We barely needed the heating as the sun flooded through the windows, shiny sparkling on white gorgeousness. It all looked wonderful: yet the wind roared fierce, cutting up the cliffs and across the fields. The road cleared so we chill-walked the lanes, still slippy in the shadows, banks and hedges covered in icy drifts. The wind chill factor must have been minus ten degrees, or more.
Robins, puffed up to keep warm, hopped around the bird feeder. One sat on the trellis against the wall, soaking up the sun’s rays, quite motionless while others scuttered around the tree above it.
Inbetween, I checked through our Christmas cards and emails, making sure that I had caught up with friends and acquaintances scattered round the globe. Best of all, I was able to reconnect with our housekeeper in Kenya: we had not heard from her since we moved house, so I was fearful that we had lost touch altogether, but I managed to get a text through to her and received a quick reply. A wonderful relief.
It was a great day for washing: the wind blew the moisture out as rapidly as if it had been the summer, but by late afternoon the still-damp jeans had turned as stiff as boards.
And my dear neighbour Nicky came round for tea: scones and laughter, much chat, great fun. So great to have this time to be able to spontaneously extend hospitality. (I am trying to make #40Acts of kindness a permanent lifestyle choice...What Would Jesus Do?)
The day seemed gloriously long: yet a blizzard was forecast, so once again, The Authorities decreed that School Would Be Closed. Not complaining...
And so it came. Later than expected: we had thought it would blow throughout the night, but there was, initially, no fresh snow. Then it started...The wind blows the snow in huge gusts, eddying up and around the house, whirling dervishes brandishing icicle swords, swooping at bushes, cutting through pockets of shelter...
I have walked out to the bird feeder several times, replenishing food, brushing off snow from the remaining seeds and topping up the bird bath with warm water so the birds can drink. All other sources of water are frozen.
Each time, I step in pristine snow: my footprints have been obliterated, as if I had stayed smug inside all morning with no care for wildlife. Blackbirds have been skulking this morning, hesitantly hopping through the underbrush. The snow bears witness to occasional panicky rushing in circles out into the snow and back. One female cautiously hops onto a branch, observing the bird feeder fearfully before finally plucking up courage to leap down and snatch a crumb.
The leaden skies bear no hope of reprieve. The snow drifts on endlessly.
A few vehicles rush by, skidding through slush. Otherwise all is quiet save for the howling of the wind, fruitlessly seeking crannies in corners through which it can invade. We are warm inside. The dog huddles next to the radiator.
These few days have been a welcome reprieve. ‘Normal’ life feels full: good, but full. We go from one project to another, from this meeting to that, sharing life, constantly occupied.
These days are for stopping. For catching up with neglected tasks. For reconnecting, by email and in person, with friends. There has been time to have tea with a neighbour; a phone chat with a distant friend; writing emails and letters; organising gifts. Sorting stuff. Clearing out. Resting.
A gift of time indeed.
First Mate’s log, Morningstar, SnowDay 3. 16.05 hours.
The snow has abated, bringing rain in its place. We rushed outside as the snow eased to build a snowman: two adults, laughing like hyenas, rolling loose snow balls to form a huge snow bear. Pickle, reluctantly joining us, grabbed the Spirit of Snow and tore round the garden, weaving in circles in and out of bushes and across the lawn. Too much of a tempting target for snowballs...she waited reproachfully by the front door for us to finish adding the potatoes for eyes and a rather short nosy carrot.
Back safely inside. Rubbed down, warm and dry. Fire lit. Light beginning to fade. Snow starting to melt. Another gentle, relaxed evening....
First Mate, Signing out.