The Magic of Snow
Last weekend, snow fell across the UK in big fat flakes, tumbling towards the ground and delighting people by actually sticking. For many young children, this was the first real snowfall they'd ever seen, summoning them out of their homes in droves, clad in thick winter layers and clutching makeshift sledges. People in the cities jumped in their cars and headed for the hills, those in the countryside gazed out of their windows with admiration for the Narnia landscapes that had appeared overnight. Sure, there were those who complained and turned up their noses, but for many, snow incited a sense of magic that took them straight back to their childhoods.
I was one of those who had spent the previous week glued to the weather app on my phone, constantly refreshing the page to check when the peak snowfall would be. A plan was put in place at the first mention of the 's' word: we would be heading out to our new home (more on that soon) in search of a winter wonderland. It snowed in Manchester, of course, but after a brief spell of excitement as I walked home from the supermarket with snowflakes catching in my hair, I soon realised that it was melting away upon contact with the ground. Sure enough, as soon as the snow ceased to fall, all evidence of the white stuff vanished.
So, Sunday morning we hopped on a tram and then a train, quickly leaving the grey of the city behind and watching a white landscape appear outside the window. The further away we sped, the more snow appeared. The hills ahead were coated in white. Our afternoon was spent introducing our pup, Evie to the snow for the very first time. Like a child, she delighted in this new experience, running and kicking up piles of snow before sticking her head in it and looking confused as to why her nose felt so cold. We walked up hill, out of the valley, encountering more and more snow the higher we climbed. After taking photos and jumping in snow drifts, the heavy skies collapsed and snow once again fell in thick flurries around us. We'd reached the pub that was our destination, so settled down at a table by the open fire to enjoy a warming meal before retreating back outside for more fun in the snow.
What is it about snow that makes people regress to their childhood, casting aside any inhibitions and inciting a sense of play? For me, that feeling was reignited with our trip to Oslo last winter, when we spent an entire day shrieking like children as we raced down a toboggan run. Yes, that trip also involved walks in the woods, cosy meals and museum visits, but the most memorable part of the trip was completely letting myself go (literally and figuratively) as I sped around a corner and crashed headfirst into a snow drift.
It's been a while since it really snowed all across England (rather than just on the highest hills). Seven years ago, in 2010 and 2009, I remember waking to a blanket of snow, so deep on the ground that I had to climb over the gate to leave my house in the city suburbs. Walking to the bus stop in wellies, the snow almost spilling over the top and down to my chilly feet. Buses cancelled, people skiing down Oxford Road in Manchester, car owners abandoning their vehicles. The city ground to a halt as shops and restaurants closed and business owners sent their employees home. Even last weekend's snowfall didn't compare to that night I had to walk home from a Christmas party in snow that came almost up to my knees, as the taxi firms had removed their fleets from the road.
The snow has all melted now, and any memories of frolicking in winter landscapes have begun to fade away. I'm crossing my fingers for more snowfalls, but not holding my breath. Winter without snow feels grey, dull and miserable. Yes, there's beauty in any weather, but it's not quite the same as a landscape coated in white. Somehow, I'll find snow again this winter!