We have escaped the worst of the snows at Pig Row until Friday last. Making our way up the lane in the Land Rover was hair raising. It is the first year since we got the 4 x 4 that we've had to drive in snow. It may have been a mere three inches but with Little D in the back babbling and people driving down the hill in a panic skid, it makes you take your time, grip the wheel and seat a little tighter. Three inches may not be much but size does matter when you live on a hillside and the bloody stuff keeps drifting.
Come the midnight hour and the road outside our house had vanished. We watched a small fiat something, by then it was impossible to identify any cars they all looked like wombles with a bad case of dandruff, make it's way down the lane. You can see the frightened tracks it left behind as it slid down the hill; the lane by then had completely filled up and drifts were reaching a few feet. By the time we say that small car poke out by the derelict pub at the bottom the lane, all that seemed to be left of it was the headlights which promptly blinked out. We heard the driver thirty minutes later as we laid in our beds, hot water bottles aplenty (even Little D has a water bottle). As we snuggled down under our double thick duvet we heard him trudging past our house muttering every profanity he could throw at the snow. When we moved here three years ago our neighbours warned us that there was snow, and then there was the snow that fell on this hillside. Sometimes people move into the community and come the first winter they are aghast that no gritter comes, no policemen run across our lanes scooping snow in their helmets and no group of willing, and slightly deranged, volunteers head out into the dark to clear a way for them so they can get to work. The simple fact is, when it snows here, and the snow sticks, you stay home. You stock up, you hunker down, you put two duvets on your bed, buy water bottles and thermals. To give you an idea of how serious it can be, I have a pair of welly socks, thick, wonderfully warm socks that reach up to just below my chin and as Carol left to go to a birthday party tonight, she borrowed them. They're like gold dust and if I fall asleep on the couch in them I won't necessarily wake up in them.
Most people in the media moan about the snow but today as we went out on our hillside, we met families making use of these snow days, sledges in hand, wrapped up warm, red nosed, flustered cheeked individuals who all had that gleam in their eye. The gleam that says, this is real life. Snow can be a pain, it can be dangerous, I'd never advise going out when it was snowing but after the snow has settled and the air is rarefied thing then it calls out to the child in all of us.
This is Little D's first time as a toddler in the snow. No toddler knows fear, we have had an uphill battle this winter just to get him to wear a wool hat. The mere sight of a bobble makes him go weak. He collapses on the lounge floor, sets up his own foghorn service and screams for all to hear. The loud wailing that is unremitting until we agree not to let him wear a hat, if he agrees to wear his hood, is enough to shift the snow. It seems to get our neighbour moving too. Our neighbour, farmer John Wayne, always rides in at the last moment, on a digger, a tractor, a plough, always unannounced as he saves the day and rides off again without a word. He is the silent man of the West Riding and if it wasn't for him our roads would stay snow filled for weeks. There is nothing he can't do, he helped rip our laurel hedge out with a mini digger, gave us manure aplenty when I started on the derelict garden and today he cleared a path through the snow for us all.
Little D discovered that falling on snow didn't hurt, neither did rolling around in, throwing it at me and Carol or even falling face first into it. By the end of our walk we met families who smiled at us, looking at our red noses, fluster cheeks and that gleam in our eye. The gleam we always have.
As I write this, the rains are washing it away. What a difference a day makes to families.