Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, and I spent the last two hours of dusky daylight walking through a steadily falling snow. Okay Winter, all is forgiven: it was absolutely magical.
Snow causes havoc in England, and all day long I've heard stories of people being stranded in their cars, but we (safe at home) couldn't help but revel in the stuff. My husband, father and I walked deep into the forest -- and every scene was like a Christmas card come to life. I kept fumbling to get my gloves off so that I could take pictures . . . although I missed my favorite scene of the day, when a couple and their glossy dog bounded out of the woods, arms laden with pine boughs.
Years ago, (Christmas 1999, to be precise), we also got a big snow right before Christmas. I have a treasured memory of walking down a dark lane, slipping and sliding in the treacherous snow, to arrive at our friends' house. They had a huge open fire, and we sat around it -- drinking mulled wine and eating mince pies. It seemed to encompass most of the wonderful elements of Christmas: the warmth contrasting with the cold, the sharp smell of pine, and the rich taste of brandied fruit. And friends and family, of course. And laughter. And the feeling that time was suspended just a bit, just long enough to enjoy it all.
Chestnuts roasting on a open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose.
Last night, in a piece of magical symmetry, these same friends came over for dinner. (In the ensuing years, we moved to Texas for five years, and they've moved house, too; but by chance we have ended up in the same village once again.) By dinner-time, the roads were impassable; we live at the bottom of the hill, and they live at the top. They took a footpath that cuts through a farmer's fields, and arrived, bundled and booted and covered with snow. We were waiting, with mulled wine and hot cider and candles lit all over the house. Somehow, I think that I will remember the sight of them at the door -- all of us laughing -- forever.
Today is a quiet day between many days of seasonal socializing. Everyone has retreated to his or her own corner, to read, or watch a film, or catch up with blogging! I took another long snowy walk, this time by myself, and just enjoyed the silence of it all.
I couldn't decide if these boys were trying to build the biggest ball ever (in the deserted football field), or a base layer of a snowman.
In the meadow we can build a snowman . . .
Last night, when I attempted to put my wired-up daughter to bed, I discovered that she was all tucked up under her blankets and quilts . . . and eating a rather large snowball!
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow . . .