So they got it right after all, those weather forecasters, and we did wake up to a winter wonderland this morning. On Monday, with predictions of snow we travelled to Devon for a meeting of flower farmers with blankets, a shovel, an overnight bag and food supplies in the car, only to travel back later that day in glorious sunshine, feeling a little over-dressed in all our layers, with not a hint of snow anywhere. It was rain falling last night when I went to bed, so I did wonder whether there were going to lots of disappointed children (and adults) this morning. There were runs on sledges yesterday with shops selling out. Imagine the disappointment if the snow had never materialised.
Although I’m eager for spring to arrive I’m pleased to see the snow. We have had two very cold and snowy winters recently but generally snow, and deep snow in particular, is not that common an event. We have a friend who was born and brought up in London and she hadn’t seen snow until she was in her twenties and the first time was on a visit ‘up north’. Its rarity means councils and government can’t justify buying the sort of equipment other, more snowy, countries do to cope with the conditions. So, as a result, the country grinds to a halt. Snowmageddon, I believe, is the term being used this year to describe shops being stripped of ‘essentials’, schools closed and flights being cancelled.
Having a spell of snow makes me feel like we’ve actually had a winter rather than just the mild and damp weather that normally constitutes winter in Wales. I love how a spot of the white stuff completely changes the landscape around me. By this point in January I’m sick of the monotony of the grey, brown, drab winter’s landscape. Waking up to a blanket of snow makes me feel excited. After tea and porridge I was out this morning taking photographs in the garden and along the country paths leading to the allotment. Trees that were boring and dull yesterday have been transformed; snow clinging to the dark branches creates a stunning silhouette against the grey sky. Pines and conifers lining the road look like a scene from a Christmas card. One of the delights of pristine, virgin snow is what it hides. Even the scruffiest of neighbours’ gardens can look magical . . . well, magical is stretching it a tad, but certainly more pleasing to the eye than for the other 360 days a year I have to look at them.
Of course, snow doesn’t remain immaculate and unblemished for long. It isn’t long before grit turns the snow into an awful brown slush and there’s the rush to clear it from everywhere. We live alongside a small road that the council don’t grit but there’s a tractor repair centre in the village and they clear the roads the council don’t do. It is very good of them. There are a lot of elderly people in the village and I appreciate that snow seems to delight less and less as your mobility diminishes. There is part of me though that wants the beautiful snowy scene to remain that way, at least for a day. Instead there is this frantic dash to shift it. The huge piles of snow left by the snow plough will remain long after the rest of the snow has melted, dying a long, increasing dirty and unattractive death by the side of the road.
In the garden, the weight of snow can cause problems. Branches can snap and hedges can collapse. It’s worth brushing off excess snow if you have plants you think will be vulnerable to this but, on the whole, snow isn’t a problem. Unlike frost, which can damage plants, snow is like a duvet protecting plants underneath from the cold temperatures above. So, whilst everyone else in the village is sweeping and scraping away the snow, as if it’s an unwelcome visitor, I’m going to enjoy it. The snowy caps on top of my box balls, the yew topiary slowly morphing into snowmen and the thin delicate stems of my Viburnum bodnantense, which now look fat and chunky and are in danger of developing the dreaded ‘bat wings’.
Stay warm and cosy this weekend. WW