There’s a crunch as you walk on the snow. Your feet break through the crust and the soft underbelly gives way with a small squeak. Treading new footprints in fresh snow isn’t something we get to do too often here in the south west but it’s a joy when you do. To enjoy some white stuff, you would normally expect to have to travel to the hills of Wales or the Lakes. Even then it’s rare for the snow to remain for long. Proper winter snow is usually the preserve of the Scottish mountains and more northern climes.
But this week we’ve had the Beast from the East, Snowmageddon and Emmageddon, all of which are stupid names, created by the media to hype up what’s going on. Yes, it is serious and should be treated that way. Goodness knows what would happen should we be unlucky enough to get several more feet of snow or an ice storm.
I love to see families heading out with their sledges, all smiles in expectation of what’s to come. It’s wonderful that grown-ups get a break from the daily grind to spend time with their children, doing something different, in a new (for many) environment. I see the looks of wonderment on small children’s faces as they pick up the white powder. They are only matched by the incredulous faces on the few cats I have seen when they venture out.
All in all, I enjoy these moments because the world seems to slow a little. A peaceful silence has settled over Hatherleigh with none of the usual hustle and bustle going on. People are thinking of others. Doing shopping for the elderly and clearing pathways. There’s a great sense of community and everybody seems relaxed and resigned to what’s happening. Nobody seems fed-up with everything grinding to a halt. On the contrary, people I have spoken to feel it’s a blessing to stop still and feel some real winter weather for a change.
As for Kermit, he’s staying in the warm. Neither he nor I want to go out in the current conditions and those who do should perhaps think twice before wheeling their bike out onto icy roads. There does seem to be a high degree of bravado amongst some cyclists. It’s as though cycling in the snow gives you a badge of honour, making you ‘hardcore.’ I admit that I always liked playing on my mountain bike in the snow. It wasn’t so different from riding in slippery conditions provided by mud and wet rock. But you need the right tyres and the right clothing if you are going to risk it. Once it gets icy, it’s just silly to ride on two wheels. The sensible position would be to stay at home and heed the warnings. Emergency services are stretched enough as it is, without us cyclists adding to their workload.
The snow slows the world down, and in turn that slows my mind down. I feel as though I’ve been given permission to stay in bed late and generally to lazy around. My attention turns to cooking, music, writing, taking baths and the like. These are all things that make the cold weather seem more bearable. I’m lucky, I have a warm house. There are plenty that don’t and too many that have no house at all. How such a rich nation cannot provide enough affordable homes and warmth for its citizens to live in is beyond my imagination. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a crime. To spend too much time thinking about those things could be the way to paranoia.
Back in my world, being at home without a thought of pedalling anywhere makes this the perfect time to plan something. It might be a day ride that you have meant to do for ages, or an expedition somewhere that requires some thought and the perusing of maps over a hot and steaming mug of tea. It’s a process that I feel would be enhanced by the addition of a log burner, or open fire, but sadly I don’t have either of those. I tend to do these activities on the kitchen table or the living room floor and let my imagination fill in the blanks and music fill my ears. It’s also a good time for writing blogs or sorting out photographs. I often look back at the huge catalogue of photographs I have digitally stored. It’s a source of inspiration at a time when cycling and camping can feel a long way away. It also serves to remind me why I like certain places and environments so much, returning to them time and time again.
This morning it has begun to rain, washing away the white powder and ice a little at a time. I’m hoping it will be clear by Monday as I have a few chores to do and I would prefer to do them on Kermit. What has amazed me over the last few days is, that despite shopping on a limited budget, I had plenty of food in store to hardly notice not going shopping this week. I’m not a hoarder, but it makes me wonder just how much I buy out of habit rather than need.
But it isn’t all positive, being at home in the snow. I miss riding terribly, not like an addiction, but more like not seeing an old friend for a long time. I enjoy the physical effort and reward I get from making the effort to travel and shop by trike. I get nothing from travelling around by car, other than the convenience, and even that ceased for a few days as local roads became impassable. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is that I miss. The wind in my face, possibly, feeling my body working hard, and without a doubt, looking at the not unimpressive view from the seat. I also miss my routines and feel all at sea when then are not there to steady the ship.
Perhaps the best thing to do is accept the situation. Nothing seems to last long in the way of UK weather. Having experienced this short and delightful, for some, interlude in proceedings, it’s time to put it into the memory banks and to prepare for whatever comes next. Whatever it is, I doubt if it will invite the peace and tranquillity has that reigned over the past few days. Rain, wind and the usual Atlantic low-pressure systems might just take over again. But don’t underestimate the power of these big high-pressure systems. They can often sit stubbornly refusing to move for weeks on end, as we have just seen.
As for me, it hasn’t been a particularly productive week. I’ve felt more like a bear than a person, with a great desire to hibernate, only waking up when the smell of fresh alpine flowers and warm spring scents reaches my nose. Perhaps one of life’s greatest lessons is that it isn’t always about achieving something. Sometimes it’s about being still in the moment, enjoy the hiatus from your usual life and contemplating what might come next.
PS: It’s read an Ebook week. You can buy any of mine at a 50% discount until March 10th. Just follow the link : https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Graeme+Willgress
Until next time…………………..