I can only remember one actual Christmas day where snow lay on the ground, yet it is so much of the Christmas experience, I wanted to explore it more…
Writing ‘dear snow’ feels sort of un-natural, but then why should it? Snow is one of the most natural things in this corner of the world; a force of nature … a simple weather feature … mere frozen water transformed into magic or … a sheer pain in the arse?
Let’s explore some more… There is what snow gives – a gorgeous luminescent sky, the magic of white cold flakes falling from heaven – filling the horizon with the promise and excitement of transformation.
For snow IS transformative: the landscape is altered, filtered and changed in so many dimensions. There is the sight – a cool, white blanket covering the horizon; purifying, electrifying, cleansing and sculpting the landscape to wind blown topiary peaks or a smooth unifying pure concrete.
And look closely into snow and you discover that it is woven from crystalline magic, being formed of diamonds and stars into a myriad of patterning that gives you a tiny glimpse of god.
Then there is the sound: Of an electric silence, of feet crunching and compacting the pureness to footprint; shrieking happy children pelting snowballs and creating future be-wintered memories of sledging and snowmen.
And people tell me that they can smell snow coming. I don’t sense snow that way, it’s appeal for me is the lack of that sense … another cleansing apparition, another altered state of being. A deprivation to add to the sensation.
The feel is multiple – the shiver of the anticipated shock of freezing cold; the sudden solidity transformed by warmth to water. Snow can be the solid force that is shaped into missiles and carrot be-nosed, old scarf dressed snow people – that jocular cousin to the scare crow. It can be sticky and clingy, grabbing onto the fibres of your protective clothes. And snow can be white dust skimming the wintery land – powdery and ephemeral and formless.
As it fades, it melts and disappears, changing from its’ pure white form to the half way house of sludge – snow now blackened, dimmed and dirtied by the environment underneath and around – reasserting it self and infecting the cool whiteness with a creeping blackness. And then there is snow melted and re-frozen … that smooth form of treacherous ice that brings bruises, breaks bones and slows us to protective caution.
The emotion is child-like and primordial. There is a heightened sense of homeliness, of being safe inside, peering out of the window; knowing there is a warm security, a cosy certaincy enhanced by comfort food, extra warmth and other winter indulgences.
So snow, this is your love letter and love is many splendored thing. Yet it can be a complicated, contradictory thing too. For the light, white stuff has a dark side too and I tried not to think of this before I headed out into your path last night.
I hedged my bets … I would be safe because you were starting to fall and had not yet formed yourself into solid danger; it was a Sunday, so you would not have caused too much crazy world stopping chaos and I decided I would respect your power and be careful, mindful and remember all the snow wisdom I have ever been taught.
Combined with darkness snow, your power turns darker; and add in side-winding wind and you become an even fiercer force to be reckoned with. Even on the motor way where the cavalier speed merchants usually ride my bumper or flash by me in the fast lane, everyone respected you and slowed to snow pace. I so wanted to be home and warm and out of your way, yet joined the convoy of caution until the time came to branch off to my local little motorway.
I was all alone in the dark until I reached thickening slush and the next convoy of caution – feeling its way down towards my town at 30 miles per hour. I kept my calm and joined the crawl and still the adrenaline quickened in my blood, to flash out when I braked and my brakes fought and ignored me and then slowly acquiesced and slowed my car down; unlike my heart, which was beating faster and faster. I kept my nerve and whispered loving comfort to myself to see me through the ever shortening distance home.
Then turning the corner to my final descent, the car slid and skidded – just for a second and then was in my control again, facing forward, heading home, cautiously maintaining momentum as I drove through your thickening layers along country lanes, where I had to guess the lines of the road from the hedge rows and my local land lore.
More careful twists and turns and finally came my home strait, my street, my relief.
So snow, your power is mutable, variable, a kiss on the landscape, a potential kiss of death. And that too adds to your thrill. Friend and foe snow. Love and loathe snow.
Snow – you are an infinite force to be reckoned with and isn’t that, after all is said and done, so very like Christmas itself?
With much love, regards and respect.
PS: As Christmas comes round and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, in book form. It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…