Is there anything more likely to make us forget our adult condition than a good snowfall? In January, as I watched the snow first falling, then sticking, I was as giddy as my children and memories knocked of winters past.
My own dad has been always ready for adventure whatever the weather, but he particularly relished a good deep snowfall as a special opportunity for fun. We had a sledge that had been made by my granddad, solid and strong with room enough for two. Ox-like, my dad would drag us through the snow with no discernible effort; my brother and I hushed by the stillness of the muffled world we moved through. I have no recollections of feeling cold on these play days, only laughing faces bathed in pinkish ice-light. We'd always head to the same spot, a hole in the ground we called the quarry, with sides so steep only my dad would sledge them. Of the three of us it was my dad, I'm sure, who had the most fun.
Unfortunately for my boys I am not so sturdy; no tireless pulling of sledges up hills for them, poor things. But even so, we made the most of the wintry lands. Much sledging was done, with friends and by ourselves, on hills of all lengths and gradients. Each day we ventured out until our noses and fingers tingled and little boy's tears ran down frozen rosy cheeks. Returning home to mountains of steaming boots, socks and gloves sitting about radiators and freely flowing hot chocolate was almost as pleasurable as the outings themselves.
There is a special magic, I think, in snowy days for us parents - the snow's transience encouraging us to put our adult anxieties on hold for a few days and unite with our children in pure joyful excitement. I'm fairly sure my dad understands this, he has always been an expert at embracing playful moments
The snow has come again, but this time only a thin and threadbare sheet lies upon the ground. February winds on, still wrapped in winter's colours. This month often tests the spirit, offering hopeful glimpses of shining days of sun then snatching them away to replace them with the very worst of the season's offerings. But I have heard the birds at the opening and closing of the days, limbering up their voices. I have seen the citrus green of opening hawthorn buds and I have sniffed the air and caught a freshness upon the wind. Winter's days are surely numbered; may their snowy gifts of fun and child-like wonder take us through these last weeks with hope and good humour.