My first snow day in Hampshire

For the past three weeks, the weather forecast has predicted snow over and over again. They had it down to the hour! Every day where snow was on the forecast, I sat at the window, jaw balanced on the palm of my hand as I waited. Nothing came, not even a flurry. Then last, night, my weather app predicted, with 100% certainty that today would be the day. They claimed the snow would have a 6am arrival and would continue falling through until 11am, so I set my alarm for 7:30. I figured that would give the snow enough time to settle and me, in turn, enough time to jump out of bed, throw on some clothes and be on top of the hill for sunrise.

I couldn’t sleep all night. Honestly, the only other person I know that was as excited was a friend’s son, and he was born in the 2010s… that should tell you something! Basically I’m a grown up child when it comes to things like snow. I used to drive my mom and dad crazy when I was a kid and it was snowing early in the morning. I was told I couldn’t go out until we were all up and ready. So, I’d sit at the window, head in hand, and make up songs about the snow falling outside. I remember one catchy verse I sang over and over again – “Snow is falling, nature is calling, brothers are asleep, makes me want to weep. Get up you lazy boys, it’s time to take out the snow toys!” Now imagine you’re trying to sleep as your 8-year-old is singing full volume in the next room. Oh the things they put up with. Thanks, mom and dad.

On this morning, there were no songs, just a very excited 40-year-old woman sitting straight up, with the 7:30am alarm, to find a village completely blanketed with snow just outside my bedroom window. I shook Steve. “Get up, get up, it snowed.” He made the effort for one look, exclaimed, “wow” and then fell straight back to sleep. Well, I wasn’t expecting that little enthusiasm for such a momentous occasion. So, I moved onto Bonjour. She was curled up asleep on the blanket I’d placed on the floor for her to keep warm on these chilly nights. “Bonjour, have you ever seen snow before,” I said as I reached out to gently scoop her up and place her on the windowsill. She took one look, tilted her head in a quizzical manner, looked back at me, yawned, then jumped down and curled right back into the blanket. Oh well. I tried. No takers.

As it was clear I was alone in my adrenaline rush for freshly fallen snow, I tip toed out of the room and downstairs into the shower. I opened the window in the bathroom so I could monitor the snowfall as I showered. I didn’t want to miss a minute. Queue a rather unfortunate incident of shampoo in the eye as a result, which delayed me a good ten minutes. I ran up the stairs, threw on some clothes and a heavy jacket and ran back downstairs to put on my snow boots. The tripod was ready and waiting, camera already attached and batteries fully charged (I even had a backup).

As I slammed the door behind me, hoping it might wake Steve and stir him to shower and join me later, I went out the front gate and headed for the farm at the top of the hill. The snow was fresh, not a footprint in sight. Flurries were falling in big chunks as thick as cotton balls and I stood for a moment in the road with my head tilted back and my mouth wide open, letting snowflakes melt on my tongue. Heaven. This is heaven.

I only came across one family as I hiked upwards. They promised me that by the time I returned, they’d have a whole snowman built and it would be the best in the village. I wished them luck and promised I’d come back the same way so that I could witness their greatness in snow sculpture form.

The roads, the buffalo fields and the lanes were all deserted. I was completely alone and all I could hear was the occasional bird and the heavy snow falling all around me. I felt free, truly free. Free from every worry in the world that sits heavily now on all of our shoulders. Free from the constant thoughts of missing my family and friends. Free from any thought of big decisions that face me ahead. There was just me, the crunch of the snow under my boots and the endless heavy flurries all around me. This was a peace I haven’t felt since before 2020.

I walked and walked for about 10 kilometres. Finally the cold had seeped through my jeans (what an amateur winter dresser I am) and it was time to return home. Had I worn a snowsuit, I’m pretty certain I would have simply lay in the field and let the snow build up around me as I admired the endless wintry landscape.

On the way home, I passed two hills, quickly filling with families eager to try their hand at sledging in the shallow snow. It was proving to be difficult as, by 9:30am, the snow was already starting to melt. But it was wonderful to witness a life that momentarily appeared to be normal.

Once home, I kicked off the boots and the wet clothes, rushed upstairs to put on fresh threads and told Steve I was making us coffee, attempting to coax him out. Warm drinks in hand, we made our way through the village and over to the fire station, where we ran into our friends and their two sons, both half way down a steep driveway on their sleds. We all walked, socially distanced up the hill, and then one of the boys launched a full on snowball attack on Steve. An hour later, we were all exhausted. One well aimed snowball turned into a full on snow-war. We laughed, we got soaked, we slid and, in the end, our 40-year-old bodies ached from it all.

I’m home now, feet in big chunky cashmere socks and defrosting in front of the fire. I made chocolate chip cookies, which Steve is delivering to our friends’ doorstep this evening, and I’m planning on putting on some trash television as I answer this week’s Q&A. But, as I sit here and write, I am so so grateful for the day that was just had. If nothing else, this past year has brought about so much appreciation for the littlest things. Who knew a few inches of snow could be a full on soul cleanser?

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