I don’t like the snow. In fact, that’s an understatement. I positively detest the stuff. And before anyone starts accusing me of being a soft southerner, let me tell you that I was born and bred in Derbyshire, in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. There was a church and a pub and four farms, and that was it. There were no buses, and it wasn’t unusual to see more horses than cars going past our house on some days.
One particularly brutal winter when we got snowed in, the snow drifted higher than the tall hedges lining the narrow country lanes and then froze solid. I can’t remember how long we were stuck before a group of farmers managed to clear an icy tunnel through to the next village, but it was certainly a few days. Whilst marooned, my sister and I busied ourselves in perfecting the art of sledging down hills on a thick blue plastic sack and attempting to build an igloo in the garden. We never did figure out how to get the roof on. Back then, I suppose the snow was kind of fun. But as young children we didn’t have any responsibilities (unless you count cleaning our bedrooms, walking the dog, and getting the coal in for the fire) and we didn’t have to go anywhere in it. However, even then I became aware that it wasn’t always fun, after my mum had a nasty skid on some ice whilst trying to turn up a hill. My sister and I were in the back of the car at the time, and I’m not sure who was more terrified out of the three of us.
Since entering the realms of (allegedly) responsible adulthood, I’ve always hated the snow and, more particularly, the ice. I don’t like driving or walking in slippery conditions and the fact that I’m a rather chilly mortal probably doesn’t help matters either. My hands regularly turn an unattractive shade of blueish-purple in the cold, even when I’m wearing thick gloves. I’m also very mindful of the advice of my second eye surgeon: “Don’t get a head trauma“. Falling over and banging my head would not be a good idea. So when ‘the Beast from the East’ was forecast, I found myself scanning the skies each day with a sense of impending doom.
It was on Monday evening that the frequent flurries finally began to settle as they fell onto the frozen ground. Just before heading to bed, I peered out of the window and was relieved to see that they had stopped. By morning, more snow had fallen but it didn’t look very deep so it was business as usual. I stepped gingerly out of my house and walked carefully to the car, somewhat dazzled by the horrific brightness, despite having my giant sunglasses in place. It was like being trapped inside a huge lightbox and being unable to escape.
“It’ll be fine”, I told myself sternly. “You can’t put off driving in the snow forever because you’re scared – it was bound to snow sooner or later.” You see, this was the first lot of substantial snowfall since my eye issues began in 2014, and hence my first time driving in the snow with waffy vision. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best experience. I had trouble focussing due to the all-pervading brightness and my road was very slippery. I drove at the pace of a reluctant snail, sliding slightly as I navigated the corners, and then came to a slow-motion skid as I attempted to stop at the roundabout. By this time it had started snowing heavily, making it even more difficult to focus. “Sod this”, I muttered through chattering teeth as I carefully manoeuvred the car around the roundabout and cautiously retreated back home. Leaving my boots on the doormat in a small pile of snow, I shakily headed for the kettle, shivering more with nervousness than cold. A hot cup of tea improves most situations, I find.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t prepared to risk life and limb trying to get in, and luckily my boss permitted me to work from home. Even safely indoors, it felt as if the dratted white stuff was taunting me – it was so bright that I had to draw the curtains until they were almost fully closed. At least it helped to keep the heat in, I guess. Anyway, it’s all gone now and that horrible glaring brightness has transformed into a soothing grey drizzle. I’ve never been so pleased to watch the rain fall…