The early sun lights the grass. Amber leaves wave in the morning breeze, bronzed by the cold. Frost crunches beneath my feet, and the winter-fresh air brings colour to cheeks and nose.
Bonfire night brought the cold wind with it. We huffed our way to the bonfire, steam puffing out like little dragons. Hats, gloves and scarves brought into use. Stood stomping our feet on the grass, attempting to restore feeling. Hands firmly tucked into pockets, huddled against the chill. Oohed and aahed at the explosion of light and sound above. Then, warmed by the chatter, we headed for home, and the heat of the fire.
In shadowed valleys and hidden nooks, winter still lingers on. Reluctant to bid farewell. Yet down on the shore, spring is arriving. The rock-pools are resuming their busy lives after the long rest. Sea flowers spread open in their beauty before my eyes today, drifting gently to and fro on the undercurrent.
The battlements surround us as we drive along the lanes. White walls taller than the car. The roadway seemingly chiselled out as though from rock. Winter has the hills in a firm grip. Yet by the coast, the snow is very gradually dissolving, snowmen disappearing to some foreign land. The snow-castle still sits proudly guarding the front path, but the turrets are crumbling under spring’s return. The battle is not yet won – snow continues to fall in odd flurries, occasionally settling for a short time. The sun seems to be winning today’s fight.
Thursday’s snow flurries turned into Friday’s blizzard. We woke to a white world, snow plastered against the window. A strange quiet. No electricity. No heating. No lights. Small camping stove out. Log fire stoked up. All day the snow continued to fall, hurling itself bad-temperedly at the ground. Tossed about by the wind, clawing at hair and face. A quick dash outside to post a letter became a struggle into the teeth of a blizzard. The path to the door and the pavement is shoveled three times. A losing battle. Inside the fire blazes, the only warmth in the house. Ice dripping from coat and hat. The kettle sings merrily on the hearth. Night draws in early. With candles lit and flames flickering the evening passes quickly. And so to bed, dressed for outside… hat and warm socks. Jumper and leggings. Duvet and three blankets. Hot water bottles top and bottom.
During the dark hours the snow still falls. A gentler dance, but just as popular. The morning light sees 10 foot drifts piled along the roads. The local farmers attach buckets to the tractors and plow the roads in the village. In the heart of the community we are safe. Cocooned from the outside world, an insulating layer of snow keeping us separate. Still no heat or light. The local rescue vehicle pops by, checking up on all. We clear the paths yet again, neighbours working together. Lunch has been cooking since dawn, balanced on the edge of the coal fire. Afterwards we emerge and playtime begins. A new member of the village appears, sitting on the bench. Soon the clouds draw in again, pregnant. Snow flurries occupy the afternoon, as the sun slowly moves across the sky. Darkness arrives and the candles are lit again. With my flickering light I climb the stairs and bury under the duvet.
Palm Sunday begins in sunshine, bringing longed for warmth into the room. A beautiful day. I go for a walk along the shore, sinking up to my knees in snow. Raid the garden for palm leaves, buried in a drift, and make palm crosses. No hope of church today – the road is still blocked to the east. By midday, the road north is finally opened. Electricity vans are seen, raising hopes. But lunch is stew slow-cooked by the open fire, and tea is toast and jam. The kettle still sings on the hearth at bedtime, and candles flicker on.
Dawn today brought relief. Blessed warmth. Sinking through to my bones. The power flicks on and off before staying on. The main wires to the village are still down, but a lorry late last night brought generators. A day of restocking. The thaw has begun, for now.