The first weekend in December we awoke on the Saturday morning to find the landscape transported into a winter wonderland with a thick carpet of white snow. The happy farmer groaned as the youngest squealed with delight. Intermittent blizzards for the remainder of the day ensured a great weekend of down hill tobogganing, with not a sledge in sight; improvisation and ingenuity were called for. Early attempts had the kids sliding down the hills in bin liners, these were then replaced with metal trays, the lovely Edinburgh castle tray my mother in law had bought me years ago came into its own as they shrieked and squealed, slipping down the slopes at some speed before turning a few spins as it sped to the flatter levels. The roar of the quad bike signalled the happy farmer’s sledging invention, a thick piece of rubber matting with a rope attached to the front for extra steerage.
On Saturday such was the thickness of the snow and the fierceness of the blizzards that when I set out to drop eldest from the hairdressers I made it to the top of the village before giving up, abandoning my trip, and heading home again. The happy farmer is much more experienced at driving in awful conditions, and as my wheels spun once again as I hit the breaks I was glad to make it back to the safety of the farmyard with no collisions. The happy farmer took over the expedition in the jeep instead, only to find that just beyond the village there was not an inch of snow to be seen, the roads were completely clear, and the fields bare.
Sunday then saw us inviting friends and children from other corners of the island where no snow lay to come and spend an afternoon sledging. The happy farmer loaded the children into the trailer on the quad and sped off to the steep field, my friend and I preferring to walk across the fields, crunching our way through the snow.
Having grown up in the town, there was always plenty of thick snow in the winter months, but in no time at all it would be full of footprints and tyre marks, before turning to toffee coloured slush and ice. I can remember looking longingly into the gardens of the pensioners, who didn’t venture out in such conditions, their gardens crisp and white. It used think it such a waste of good snow. Our own garden of course would be a mass of footprints, with snow heaped up to form a snow den. Each year we would try our best to build an igloo, my brother carefully moulding blocks of snow, bossing me around, as I dutifully got frozen fingers heaving it into position. We never quite had enough snow or skill to master the roof. I would sit out for ages in the dark in my snow den, with a cold wet bottom and frozen fingers, chuffed to bits to be in my ‘new home’, until eventually I could bear the freezing temperatures no more and would retreat into the warmth of the house hoping for more snow in the night. We used to spend many evenings sledging down the hill, its surface flattened and smoothed by all of the cars during the day, made the perfect slippery surface for sledging down at night, as it formed a magical carpet, the snow glistening and glinting in the light of the street lamps.
I stood and watched at the weekend, as my children and their friends began to form happy childhood memories of their own as they raced one another down the steep field on metal trays, rubber matting and bin liners, their cheeks rosy and their gloves cold and wet.
Until next time….