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the first fall of snow

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?

J. B. Priestley

The first few flakes and then flurries of snow are late in the evening, the excitement is tangible. As the children are all sound asleep (and although both officially ‘grown up’) we dash to the window from time to time to assess the weather… It isn’t settling. It isn’t even snowing by the time we turn in for the night well after 11 o’clock. Another promise of snow not to be kept it seems…

We wake in the morning at that strange twilight time when you can’t decide the weather by brightness or gloom. There are steady drips on the roof above our heads, it sounds like rain. After a long while listening and watching the growing light, plucking up the courage to leave the warmth of the bed for the cold of the room, Mr Smith peeps through the curtains. I am somewhere between dreaming and waking. Semi-conscious of him stirring. ‘Get up’. That’s all it takes. I’m up without even questioning what his statement could mean, so in tune are we after half a lifetime together, throwing on my clothes and turning lights on to wake the children as gently as possible though that matters not one bit as Ed shouts ‘YES’ so loudly that no-one could sleep through it the second he get’s wind of the white blanket covering the world outside his window. Snow has fallen! Not much, just enough to cover the ground…

You see as a family we all share this child like glee at the very mention of snow. Living here it rarely happens so when it does (if at all possible) we drop everything and go out just to be in it! Last year snow fell once. It was a school day so we were up and ready and out of the door with enough time for a quick snowman rolling then by lunchtime it had melted away. This time it is the weekend. Oh the joy! It may not be quite light but we are all wrapped up and bundled into the car and off we go to the top of the South Downs that rise behind our house. This is our place to be when the snow does come, there can be a centimetre or two at home but you can double or triple that amount on the Downs, that little bit of extra height above sea level makes a whole lot of difference. As we approach the top there is a hint of mist, I’m not sure it could have been much more magical!

The children are away with giddy excitement as soon as we reach the car park, to the woods and to the fields, they build a snowman and sledge and throw snowballs. For a while there are no other footprints but ours then gradually others arrive to share the magical winter world. I am not the only person with a camera…

The snow doesn’t stay. By lunchtime it is almost gone, though we can say we had the best of it, unquestionably, the pure white untrodden snow like a blank page to be written with our footprints and snow angels and sledge tracks. The calm and quiet world in which to wonder and then to wander. A morning of bliss, home for a late breakfast and hot chocolate with another memory to tuck into the pages of our story.


Julia x


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