The thing is, a good snowfall cuts us off completely. It’s marvellous. We have a long drive with fields on both sides and a bank and hedge on the northwestern side. If there is any wind at all when it snows, the snow hits the hedge and falls on the drive. Always. Sometimes, there is an inch or so of snow on the road and a foot or more in our drive. Indeed, on occasion, a drift can be higher than my head. On one occasion, five or six years ago, the wind blew so strongly that the roads and even the gardens were completely clear. Not our drive. I have a memory of our friends Stuart and Caroline walking down the road, stopping at the end of the drive and falling about with laughter at the sight of us shovelling three feet of snow to the side. They literally had to hold each other up.
Now, you might think that this would put me off snow, but it’s exactly the opposite. I love it. I enjoy knowing that, until we get out shovels and dig our way down 100 yards to the road, we are stuck with Shanks’ Pony. We fetch out the sledge and trudge into town, load up our shopping onto the sledge and plod home again. One year, we delivered Meals on Wheels by sledge – although the council-run old people’s home in the village was still open then and provided the meals; we couldn’t have brought them back from Yagnub as they would have got cold. We wrapped, in any case, the insulated box in blankets to keep it as warm as we could.
My late lamented red setter, Chester, loved snow. He used to dig tunnels and almost disappear in them. When he emerged, the hair between his toes and the feathers on his legs were clagged with balls of ice and I had to tease them out, so that he wouldn’t pull them off himself to melt on the fireside rug or the sofa.
Our garden is almost entirely flat, but there is one large dip on one field, where gravel was extracted some time in the past. This is quite satisfactory for sledging if you don’t know better, and we find it vastly entertaining. And then, of course, there’s the snowman. No winter can be complete if I have not built a snowman. Sometimes, there’s a whole snowfamily, including the snowdog, but usually it’s just one chap, his height determined by the depth of snow to call on. For we rarely receive much, and it usually only stays a day or two, nowadays. For the last two years I haven’t built a snowman at all.
There is another reason to enjoy snow, and that is the extra light it gives on a winter’s day. I don’t suffer from SAD, I don’t think – that is, I don’t become depressed or exhausted. But I do want a lot more sleep when the days are short: since I don’t go to bed any earlier, this means that I tend to get up a bit late if I can get away with it. However, when it has snowed all night and the sun is shining on a clear cold morning, I’m full of energy. Those of you accustomed to seeing me with my feet up, or at least leaning on the nearest wall would hardly know me. I run around, pinkly vigorous in my woolly layers, chortling happily at my lack of aim with snowballs, energetically scooping up shovelfuls of snow to clear a track for the postman to call, not heeding the twinges of a startled back as I heave a great armful of snow for the snowman’s head.