It never fails to surprise me when I hear somebody say they hate snow – they might as well say they don’t like Kinder Surprise eggs or baby hedgehogs, it all registers at the same level on the Incredulity Scale as far as I’m concerned. I love snow. I look forward to it every year, it jostles with sock puppets, tiny dinosaurs made out of marzipan and ‘Knock-knock’ jokes involving the word ‘Poo’ for top spot in my list of favourite childish pleasures.
Do you know what the crucial factor to enjoying snow is? It’s the way you discover it; snow, much like a good lover, needs to take you unawares, to fall softly upon you when you least expect it, making you gasp and smile with joy and excitement. If you’re in an office with no windows and some inconsiderate, whimsy-challenged cretin come stomping in, with the words ‘URGH! It’s snowing out there!’ frozen to their chapped, soulless lips like a freeze-dried cold sore, there is simply no way you are going to enjoy the snow. Their peevish cynicism will creep right off of them and latch on to you, like a… creepy, latchy thing, and from that point on you are doomed. Such a scenario is guaranteed to remove all the magic from a good snow shower faster than Nadine Dorries could remove the magic from an Ann Summers party.
This year, I discovered the snow in the best way possible.
It had been cold all day, I mean really cold, colder than a poorly endowed penguin’s perineum, so style had been politely folded up and put away in a chest of drawers in favour of a comfy, cosy, slightly disreputable pair of fleecy jogging bottoms, a hoodie and a pair of woolly socks that even Dobby the House Elf would prefer an eternity of servitude to being caught dead in. The nice TV weatherman had told me this morning that it was likely to snow, but my Nan had always told me to never trust a weatherman… or was it men with mono-brows? I always get those confused. Anyway, when it comes to weather forecasts I tend to go by the ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ maxim, having been caught in far too many torrential downpours whilst wearing flip-flops not to.
The afternoon was pleasantly spent curled up with the Xbox, a good book and the cat for company, only occasionally venturing out to the
kitchen for heartening cups of tea and to gather assorted snacks, peering hopefully out of the window each time to see whether any of the promised white goods had been delivered, only to be disappointed each time. By 3:30pm I was becoming decidedly dubious about the whole thing. Donning my warmest coat and boots I ventured out to the back garden, grumpily muttering about ineffective weathermen and their mothers, to put some food out for the birds. It was bitterly cold and the sky looked like an explosion in a Tipp-Ex factory; reassured, with hopes raised, I took a big, bracing breath of snow-scented air and grinned in happy anticipation.
Inevitably, the day drifted on and I drifted off to sleep; I woke up just before 6pm with a stiff neck, hair that looked like it had just been vacated by a family of untidy weasels, and a small pair of very cold feet, despite the socks from hell. Still a little dazed, I tottered over to the window to draw the curtains against the dark night and the chill draft that persistently crept through the old frames. I had completely forgotten about the…
And not just a little bit, not just those first wispy smatterings that look like a clumsy giant with no regard for superstition spilled salt all over the world – it was a proper blanket of snow, pristine, already a couple of inches deep, and still falling steadily. I beamed at the flakes falling past the window and watched them settle. The way I felt in those first few minutes was comparable to unexpectedly finding a £10 note in your purse when you thought you were totally broke, or opening a box of Cherry Bakewells and finding one of them has two cherries on top – nothing earth-shattering or life-changing, just little things, all the more lovely for being such random rarities.
I think that’s why I love snow, because it makes me think of so many small, inconsequential things that bring me little bursts of unlooked for pleasure: Narnia, Christmas cake, the moment when the giant Stay-Puft man explodes in Ghostbusters, polar bears, Snoopy’s happy dance, toastie duvets with fresh bedding, musical snow globes, Fargo, the first clean page of a new notebook, fairy tales and Gnossienne No. 3 by Erik Satie. Nothing provides more nostalgia and comfort than a blanket of snow, or is more likely to make me go all Von Trappy; to quote the Austrian, curtain-clad warblers: ‘I simply remember my favourite things and then I don’t feel so bad.’ – a bit of a twee cliché perhaps, but fact, nonetheless. Things haven’t been great – I needed this snow.
By 8:30pm I could resist it no longer; I left the house, a walking pile of wool, fleece and – whatever the hell it is my winter coat is made out of, no longer distinguishable as a human, let alone female, and sallied forth into the wonderland that is currently Norfolk. It was so cold, despite all my layers, the wind and snow causing my cheeks, the only two small patches of skin left exposed to the elements, to sting and my eyes and nose to start running, sniffing every couple of minutes in a way that, had she been there, would have had my mother tutting and reaching for a hankie in seconds.
The streets were deserted, peaceful and as yet unspoilt by either feet or tyres. I stood for a couple of minutes and enjoyed the scent of the snow and that muffled effect it has, the one that makes you wonder whether you are the only living creature in the world and makes you wish, somewhat forlornly, that you could befriend a woolly mammoth with a dry sense of humour or a cute little sabre-toothed squirrel with a good supply of acorns. Thankfully, a small but forceful gust of wind nudged me forward, out of my melancholy pondering, and there was that delicious first crunch as boot met virgin snow. A laugh found its way out of my belly and, more impressively, out of the layers of hoodie, scarf and coat and floated away down the quiet, empty road. I looked at all the whiteness before me, almost reluctant to spoil its perfection, but if I didn’t then somebody else would. And so I did. I managed 20 carefree minutes before I began to suspect my nose of gross insubordination and fourth degree frostbite. I headed home, which suddenly seemed a lot more cosier and welcoming than it has done of late. That’s another good thing about snow, no matter how dissatisfied you feel about your life it makes you feel that, at least for now, you are exactly where you’re meant to be and that there’s no place like home.
In a day or two the snow will probably be gone, or worse – turned into black ice, just another threat to my general safety or – more likely – my street cred and pride; reducing me to walking around like an 80-year-old and ending up flat on my insufficiently padded arse anyway – probably in front of a group of hot blokes – while other women elegantly sashay past my poor broken body in 3 inch heels, looking more confident on ice than Torville & fucking Dean.
And when it gets to that stage… that’s when I know I’m done with snow for another year. But until then… I LOVE THE SNOW!