Friday, 6 February 2009

Some wintery whimsy

The world is white

The day had a dream-like quality to it.

A week of snow has interrupted all of our usual rhythms and routines, and food and play have been uppermost in our minds. I keep trudging down to the little shop to buy more milk, because hot chocolate and rice pudding require so much of what is usually just dribbled out for cups of tea. (Building igloos and snowmen is hungry work.) Tonight we will have an apple and walnut crumble, and thus we must have custard. This afternoon, the shop was packed with people who would usually be at work or school. Hats obscured faces and heavy jackets steamed as the snow melted in the sudden warmth. Everyone bundled up -- all of us preparing for a siege, apparently. It doesn't take much to bring out the hoarding instinct.

Sigmund says that in Surrey, only an hour's drive away, the snow has turned to rain. It is hard to believe that; hard to believe that it is actually warm in other places. The snow has obscured every other reality.

I have been lost in a fictional world, too. Last night I began Elizabeth's A Fortunate Child, and utterly absorbed, I read late into the night. Much of the story takes place in World War II, and it follows two women -- one English and one German, one waiting for the war to end and one displaced by it. Most of the story is told in first-person, and the voices seem so authentic and true -- they get right into your head. Sigmund was up in London for the evening, and I felt obliged to stay conscious in order to will him home safely. He did eventually arrive, but by that time it was 2 am and I had drifted off . . . dreaming of Gisella's hard scramble to stay alive in the harsh German winter of 1945. I had just fallen into a deep sleep when he woke me up again, talking of strange things: visiting Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms, down in the basement of the Foreign Office. It was rather surreal, actually. Did I dream this conversation, or did my involvement with a story swamp the present-tense of my life?

The mundane world and a more fantastic version - at times, the line between them is so wispy-thin.

Beyond the left border of our house, and just up the hill a bit, is a small farm. From our garden, we can just make out the large Georgian brick house, with its two substantial chimneys, and the collection of barns and outbuildings. I have been to this farm, and like most others it is slightly shabby, with hay on the ground and odd abandoned tools of the trade and the pervasive smell of animals. Yet from a distance, and shrouded in snow, it looks like a fairy-tale farm . . . from a child's picture book or an oil painting. I know it is fanciful of me, but in the glow of winter's pale setting sun, it seems less real to me than the book that I have just devoured.


38 comments:

Brave Sir Robin said...

Mmmmm rice pudding!!

I know what you mean about the wispy thin line . . . I can remember putting on a jacket in the middle of summer because the book I was reading had absorbed me into the frozen waste of the far north.

Snow can make the most unattractive landscape imaginable beautiful and magical. I suppose those who have to trudge through weeks or month of snow may not see the charm or the beauty of it, but this south Texas boy never fails to marvel at it and enjoy it.

marja-leena said...

Wonderful post, Bee! I identify with snowbound life, even the book which is vaguely similar to one I'm reading. Love how you've woven the many threads together.

Brave Sir Robin said...

btw - "bucolic" comes to mind when I look at the photo - it is lovely.

Elizabeth said...

Your first photo of the pink sky is so evocative of cold winter evenings.
Rice pudding! Custard! -- need it for the apple crumble I'm making.
Thank you for enjoying the book.

Lucy said...

What a beautiful, dreamlike post.

I loved your poem, and all your Ms too. Snow becomes you, I think, Bee!

Beth said...

Your words are like magic. They make me wish that I - so weary of snow and cold - were there to experience it all through your eyes.

Sarah Laurence said...

Bee, that photo is GORGEOUS! I first thought it was a painting. It’s not just the novelty of snow in England but the lovely colors and the composition. It feels American Primitive/Folk Art – Grandma Moses perhaps? Fun to read your review of Elizabeth’s book too.

Bon Bon said...

Rice Pudding such comfort food. Have you tried making it with chocolate? I shall seek out the recipe for you. Though one assumes your arteries are oozing the stuff after this week of snowmen, snowballs and hot cocoa to thaw you out after a hard day of assembling p.c snow persons!

Bee said...

BSR - Yes, I think that grown-up Texans are thoroughly charmed by snow. It renders the familiar unfamiliar -- and makes everything so much more beautiful. It is a strange phenomenom (but one that all rapt readers recognize): losing oneself in a book. My youngest daughter cannot even HEAR when she is absorbed in a story.

Marja-leena - I suppose that we wil eventually want to return to our routine, but this week has been like a step out of time. I don't think the children will ever forget it.

BSR - It is even more magical when it is blown-up. It looks like a tiny toy farm up there on the hill. The light was a gift, as the sky has been thick with cloud all day.

Elizabeth - Your book made my day very memorable.

Lucy - Thank you! I'm glad that you managed to elbow Tom out of the way . . .

Beth - That is a very kind compliment.

Sarah - Considering the quality of your photographs and paintings, I count this as high praise indeed! I am very sad that I have finished E's book. I wish that it had a sequel.

Bon Bon - Never tried the chocolate version, but very willing! I made Nigella's risotto rice version. Are you off soon?

willow said...

Your picture does look like a fairy tale! I want to get Elizabeth's new book, too. It sounds fascinating. I haven't had rice pudding in ages. It's a favorite of mine. I might just have to go out and pick up some more milk...

Lisa said...

I love your photo on this post. It's so beautiful.

It's so interesting how the weather like you're having can truly change our habits - small and large.

This post seemed poetic as you flowed from one topic to the next. I believe the voice in my head used a British accent to read it to me.

Meredith Teagarden said...

Bee, Thanks so much for visiting!

I love almost nothing more than a great read, I will visit again and look for the book you mentioned.

JaneyV said...

Gorgeous post Bee. Alas we in Sussex are completely green again having had rain since Thursday. Life carries on as normal but in the sloshy, muddy aftermath of the mystical silence of the snow. It was like walking in Narnia in the woods for a couple of days. I kept looking out for a street lamp and a Faun.

I do hope you are feeling better. There's a nasty virus sweeping this area too. Horrible things viruses; you have to sit them out. Do remember that they are the medical equivalent to taking a baseball bat to your immune system. You'll have to be kind to your self for at least a week after you start to feel better. More hot chocolate (mmmm - I love Green & Black's) and rice pudding to fortify you I think.

Elizabeth's book sounds wonderful. I too often stay awake to "see" Hubby home safely. He went to Amsterdam in the second day of the snow and I had him text me at every stage of the journey
-at airport safely
-taking off on time
-landed
-at hotel
-for goodness sake aren't you asleep yet?

As beautiful as snow is we are hopelessly unprepared for it in this country and my instincts tell me to baton down the hatches and wait for a thaw! Hubby's more of a "carry on as normal" person. I think we balance each other out.

Braja said...

I love cows :) Did someone say rice pudding? Mmmmm

dancing doc design said...

once again you have uniquely portrayed your many thoughts and activities and vistas for us out here in the blog world- many thanks for allowing us to share in your winter cocooning. I have often felt that the inclusion of food in any writing brings us into the author's world in such a visceral way-merci!
ps I shared your delightful blog on one of recent posts on gems of the blog world. Have a great weekend.

Bee said...

Willow - Now I understand why you are so devoted to snow! It makes such poetic shapes of prosaic things.

Lisa - The accent must be coming from the landscape, because my own dulcet tones are slightly Texan.

Meredith - "Teagarden" is such a lovely name! It encompassses two of my very favorite things.

JaneyV - We still have our snow this morning! But it will probably melt away as there is also a bright sun in the sky. My poor hubby dealt with commuter woes all week long, whilst the children and I hugged home-base. They seemed to think it was their birth-right to be allowed to play in the snow all day. I did love your imagery of the faun . . .

My virus is finally loosening its tight grip. A nice long lie-in this morning seemed to help.

I can never really fall asleep properly until hubby is tucked up into bed. I can't help but think that my mental vigilance on his behalf keeps him from harm.

Braja - Yes, cows can be lovely -- and I particularly value them for their contribution towards milky treats!

Bee said...

Dancing Doc Design - Thank you for introducing yourself! I have just spent some well-utilized time perusing your blog . . . consider me a follower.

Dave King said...

Yes, Eliots unreal city actually looks unreal for a bit. Magical at first, but I do believe the magic's wearing off a bit now.

Anne said...

Oh, yum. I have some apples that need to be used, and crumble (with custard!) sounds like just the thing.

I was down in Pasadena this week for a meeting, where the temperature had the audacity to reach into the mid-80s. Being back home with temperatures in the 50s and 60s feels better, but what really feels right for this time of year is the sort of picture you paint.

Maggie May said...

wonderful! now i will read that book.

A Modern Mother said...

We have enjoyed the snow too. It has been a bit dream-like (and romantic).

The snow on Friday did turn to rain here too!

Thanks for the book recommendation (you're always good for one). I'm very interested in the period in the run up to WWI and then up to WWII -- if you've read anything that covers that let me know.

Dave King said...

Speaking of the hoarding instinct, folk have been panic buying in our area. Shops getting low on essential foodstuffs. Fine post.

Gifted Typist said...

I cannot believe the snow. A friend posted knee-deep snow in the Somerset Mendips. Extraordinary. That book sounds fascinating

Peggy said...

I am so impressed with your six-foot snowman, Bee! And Douglas is such a noble and dignified name. I think he needs some eyes and a nose, though!

Bee said...

Dave - The magic is certainly wearing off now that it is just cold, wet and dreary. I'm back to longing for spring. Perhaps the hoarders are getting ready for the next big snow? Due tonight, apparently.

Anne - Mid 80s? That is so hard to imagine. I seem to be longing for old-fashioned English "puddings" at the moment. Did you make your crumble?

Maggie May - I hope you do! Visit Elizabeth's blog for information about the book -- and how to order it.

A Modern Mother - Are you looking more for fiction or nonfiction? I'm sure you've already read them, but if you haven't, I highly recommend Nancy Mitford's oeuvre . . . particularly if you want a sense of life between the wars. The Bolter is a recently published biography that also describes that period -- for the upper-classes, at least. Have you checked out the Persephone website? They have brought quite a few books from that era back into print.

Gifted Typist - I highly recommend the book.

Peggy - He does have subtle features. You have to be up-close to see them. :)

Reya Mellicker said...

Snow is a blessing. It does interrupt all our busy-ness (and business) and isn't that a good thing?

Love the photos and the descriptionof the need for milk. All is white during a snowstorm, isn't it?

And I love the six foot snowman. Especially love it that you named him Douglas. Is that a family name?

Anne said...

I didn't make the crumble--I didn't feel like peeling apples--but I made rice pudding! It was most satisfying.

Fantastic Forrest said...

I loved this post.

It always fascinates me how the grocery store gets besieged when snowstorms are forecast. Suddenly a loaf of bread becomes a precious commodity and the shelves empty speedy quick.

A Fortunate Child sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing that. When will we get a chance to read a book by YOU? :)

Bee said...

Reya - I have no idea where Douglas came from! My daughter likes to name inanimate objects -- but never reveals her thought processes.

Anne - Recipe? (I had to make some again. Do you like it warm and cold? Cause I do.)

FF - The hoarding thing always cracks me up. Houston before a projected hurricane was always a terrifying spectacle.

Novel? Well, I did write another poem. Baby steps.

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

I sank into this post like a hot tub.... just lovely. And the bit about he farm in the distance is exactly the romantic kind of notion I have of what England will be like when we move there.

Sorry I haven't been here in awhile! I went through the back posts and am jealous of all your reading and BAFTA watching, but not so much the snowy bits. We have plenty of that here already. ;)

Reya Mellicker said...

Bee - You live less than an hour from Stonehenge? Are you in Wiltshire or Somerset? I used to teach witch camp in Dundon, 20 minutes outside of Glastonbury.

Email me and I'll tell you all about witch camp and about being a witch (something I am no longer). reyasdottir@verizon.net.

Gifted Typist said...

Came back again to see that picture. Did you take that. It's stunning - the lines of the fence against the snow and the way the sky turns yellow on the horizon.

Bee said...

Amy - Well, I don't want you to overly romanticize England . . . but yes, it can be deeply lovely. There is a slower pace to my life here -- that took some getting used to, but I wouldn't want to change it now.

Reya - We are in Berkshire, not far from Wiltshire. I would love to know more about your spiritual path.

Gifted Typist - I DID take that picture, and believe me, it was just as much a miracle to me! (The light was altered a bit through photo-editing, though.)

Nimble said...

The twilight colors of the sky above the farm call out to me. It reminds me of England and New England both. Thank you for the photo.

Sometimes winter can feel like a very restful time, low light, sleeping plants and so forth. If only I didn't have to earn a living, I could explore this idea more thoroughly!

Bee said...

Nimble - Yes, winter is best if one can spend it tucked under a quilt. It is nice to venture out for some snow, but for cold rain? Not so much.

Gifted Typist said...

ah, photo editing...
I have some pix to put up in the next few days. Come by for a visit

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

We came back from Barcelona on Tuesday thinking there would be new snow on the ground (the forecast said heavy snow before we left). Sadly, the heavy rains came instead. What a beautiful wintery photo. The snow was lovely while it lasted, wasn't it?

PS I have had late night surreal conversations with Mr. DJ, too. Ah the commuting life.

小貓咪 said...

85cc免費影片,免費影片,免費小遊戲,免費遊戲,小遊戲,遊戲,好玩遊戲,好玩遊戲區,A片,情趣用品,遊戲區,史萊姆好玩遊戲,史萊姆,遊戲基地,線上遊戲,色情遊戲,遊戲口袋,我的遊戲口袋,小遊戲區,手機遊戲,貼圖,A片下載,成人影城,愛情公寓,情色貼圖,情色,色情網站,色情遊戲,色情小說,情色文學,色情,aio交友愛情館,色情影片,臺灣情色網,寄情築園小遊戲,情色論壇,嘟嘟情人色網,情色視訊,愛情小說,言情小說,一葉情貼圖片區,情趣用品,情趣,色情漫畫,情色網,情色a片,情色遊戲,85cc成人片,嘟嘟成人網,成人網站,18成人,成人影片,成人交友網,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,成人圖片,成人文章,成人小說,成人光碟,微風成人區,免費成人影片,成人漫畫,成人文學,成人遊戲,成人電影,成人論壇,成人,做愛,aio,情色小說,ut聊天室,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,080視訊聊天室,免費視訊聊天,哈啦聊天室