Friday, 18 December 2009

Let it snow let it snow let it snow..

All week the children of Brittany have been watching the yellowing skies,holding their breathe and waiting for snow. Last night after the school concert the inhabitants of our small village spilled out into the darkness to find their patience had been rewarded with a world dusted in white crystals. What better gift for Christmas could a child ask for than Snow ? And to arrive on the last day of school had about it the magic of fairy tales.

And arrive the snow did. By morning the countryside was a virginal white ,ripe to be despoiled by young boys eager to build a snowman. At breakfast I had a kitchen full of cats, dogs and puppies tumbling about underfoot. Our dogs are outside dogs.Their kennels are warm and cosy but they sat on the doorstep like abandoned children, their coats slowly being turned white with snowflakes, and I am soft hearted.

Middle stayed home as his school is too far across winding country roads to guarantee a safe journey there and back but youngest went eager to play snowballs with his friends in the school courtyard. By midday flurries had turned to a blizzard and youngest was retrieved early from school before it was too treacherous to drive and the only option became a 45 minutes walk in bitter cold and fading light. He I am sure would have loved it but I wasn't game having done it before in the last heavy snowfall a few years ago when I rashly deiced I ought to walk into the village to buy a baguette. Delightful though it was then to see the deer prints in the snow and revel in the eerie silence of a snowbound landscape the novel wore off quickly after the first hundred metres of stomping up and down hill through thick snow.

After lunch we dragged the toboggan out from its long abandoned corner of the barn and ,wrapped like Eskimos, braved the cold in search of a slippery slope down which to hurl our selves. The first three winters we were here we had heavy snow and used to play in the abandoned orchards behind the empty farm which lay at the bend of the road but it is empty no more and our new neighbours have horses in the orchard. Nevertheless worth a try perhaps if they had kept them in from the cold. We met our young neighbours headed our way coming to see if we were coming to play. They are young farmers and their small children have never seen snow like this before. All afternoon children, and those of us who forgot that we were adults, tumbled with dogs and boys in the snow until toes and noses fingers and feet were frozen beyond feeling and temporary retreat was negotiated with bribes of hot chocolate and cake in front of the fire and the promise of more forays and fun later.

Later came quickly after a change of clothes and a drying out of wet Wellingtons. We resumed our earlier endeavours and raced through the snow covered trees hung heavy with mistletoe Whilst our neighbour fed the horses, ambushing him in a well planned attack from behind the bales and the water buts and running off hollering our victory before he could retaliate. Now it is evening and I have come home armed with mistletoe to hang. The sky, which only 10 minutes ago was pink like ethereal candyfloss against the snow with the twisted arms of the ancient cider apple trees silhouetted in black like some theatrical backdrop, is now deep dark and fathomless.The light has faded and the fires are blazing. There is a big stock pot on the stove gently bubbling with pumpkin and cumin soup and the smell of pine resin and bread baking fills the house.The pile of wet coats drying around the wood burner in the kitchen and soggy clothes by the washing machine has doubled in size since this morning.

This is how the days before Christmas should be. Full of wonder and delights; full of innocent pleasures and laughter . For today at least the sorrow of being nul at dictee, of forgetting your conjugations, of chidings for untidy rooms and lost possessions are all forgotten.. Tonight they will go to bed exhausted dreaming of snow and hoping to wake again to a world of magical whiteness where the slate of all the petty strain and stress of school are wiped clean and joy is born aloft on the first snowball.


Cait O'Connor said...

Isn't it wonderful when for children their normal school life stops and there is time for the pure enjoyment of being alive and experiencing snow.

Frances said...

Thank you for this gateway to a marvelous day with children, dogs, snow, horses, soup ... chill and warmth.

You've captured it perfectly. xo

Pondside said...

Wonderful day, waonderfully captured. For a few minutes you took me back to my childhood when every winter day is, in memory, snow white and full of fun. I wish you many more days of wonder this winter.

Elizabethd said...

Childhood was such a time for appreciating snow. Now...well one toters gently through it, hoping not to fall and break a fragile bone!

Fennie said...

What a wonderful and strangeless ageless post. Was it not ever thus?
And occasionally it still is, the last time though, here, we had deep snow was in the early eighties. I couldn't believe the quantity; the drifts were up to the first floor windows and we walked on top of the hedgerows buried there beneath. Today, though we are snowless; clear blue sky in fact through which a watery sun shines.

I was musing on somebody's post the other day why it is that cats seem to hate snow, whereas dogs are like children. What about snow leopards, then? Do camels encounter snow? I suppose they must in the Atlas mountains - and do their feet serve equally as snow shoes? What a treat that would be: traversing a snowscape on a camel. We three kings......

Fennie said...

Sorry, strangely

Tattie Weasle said...

I love that silence only snowfall can bring: I used to love it in London when the echoes of Big Ben would travel down the Thames to our abode in Battersea but only ever when it was snowing. I listenened to nothing up in Yorkshireon Thursday as it fell adn it was wondrous! The Boys thought so too and the old sledge was out in force not sure who was more pleased Grandpa or boys!

ChrisH said...

Really lovely photos - a reminder of the joys of snow.

Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Friko said...

I am sure I already left a comment, can't for the life of me think what could have gone wrong.

Bit too late wishing you a happy Christmas now, so here's wishing you


With or without snow.