Thursday, 2 December 2010

A Silence Of Snow


The piece that first got me into Vangelis' music.
One for a dark room, headphones and high volume.

Hullo ma wee blog,

The window of the bedroom is closed for the first time in as long as I can remember. Normally the only time it's shut is when we are away from home and the last time I can think it was possibly closed was almost a year ago, during the worst of last Winter's nightmare weather. Tonight as I lie in bed I'm grateful that it's not open. The temperature in the room is freezing in these few hours of the night before the central heating system kicks in to heat the house for the start of the day.  {our heating system is LPG as we live in a small village not connected to mains gas which is a lot cheaper. This year our gas has gone up by crippling 55p a litre and - with only one supplier - they have us over a barrel.} The overnight temperature is forecast to get down to -6C but even that has failed to stop snow falling, except now it comes down as hail and it's this that has wakened me.

I lie for a while and listen to the sound of the hail shattering itself against the window in the howling wind. I would get up and have a look but I'm not brave enough to face it this morning, so I lie in bed and relish the warmth seeping across from my Lovely G close beside me. I run a hand across her hip and waist and slowly on up the slope of her ribcage to her shoulder, a soft but deliberate movement which elicits an intake of breath and a slow stretch from somewhere deep in her slumber. I smile and continue the movement, now gently using my fingernails to further mess with her dreams as my hand follows the dip of her spine back down to rest eventually at her hip again. A few moments later, as I drop off back to sleep, my fingers are nudged by a restless Jess who is lying nestled in the curl of the other side of G's body. I ignore her in the hope that she'll also drop back off to sleep but she has other plans and her nose, warm and wet, again nudges my fingers, followed a moment later by the tap of her paw. It too is warm and soft but insistent as it taps me once, twice and then a third time. I push my arm across G and search Jess' furry body with a gentle hand until I can orientate her in my mind and, having found responsive ears and neck, I begin to knead her shoulders and neck as purrs begin to pour from a satisfied cat. We remain connected by the lazy movements of my hand until we both fall asleep, the three of us together now under the duvet, safe from the wind and the brittle sound of hail on glass.

Some time later I wake again. The house is silent, not even the occasional tick from a radiator beginning to heat, so I know it's early. I lie for a while listening and then, as I often do, I get up to avoid waking the  Lovely G with my restlessness and, stopping to pull on trousers, tee-shirt and jumper, I head downstairs to kitchen, coffee and computer. The clock on the oven says its 4.15am as I head to the table, cup in hand and press the power button on the laptop. As I've come down the heating has just come on and the hum of the boiler tells me the house will soon be warming up for the day.  Waiting for the sign-in screen coming to life I press the light-switch on the wall to the left of my seat. The light outside over the patio comes on and I pull the vertical blinds slightly to the side to see what's been happening during the night. Outside snow - and proper snow this time - is coming down thick and fast in huge flakes, tumbling and whirling in eddies by the nearby walls. It looks like another three or four inches have come down and this will add to the four or five inches already there. The laptop screen turns blue and I sign in and head for my blog's dashboard to check if anyone has posted on the blogs I follow and to check if any comments have been left on 'Crivens Jings...'

After a while I again take a peek out at the patio and see snow still falling as thick as before. Impetuously I reach for a fleece and pull on my boots that are lying at the kitchen door. "What on earth am I doing?" crosses my mind as I step out into the snow and walk round the side of the house and head down the drive to where the streetlights are showing the end of the drive lies. The snow underfoot is soft and fresh and even in the darkness the snow gives off a kind of light despite the stuff coming down all around. I hear the gentle crump of snow compressing with each step and feel that I'm not actually walking on the drive but somewhere vaguely above it, not quite in control of my balance as I slip into holes left by previous and now invisible footsteps. I make a mental note to keep an eye out for the depressions ahead, those puddles normally that are a trap waiting for me hidden as they are under the snowdrift in front of me. I give the area a careful and wide berth and head on down the slight slope to the road. I step out of the drive and again find myself taking extra care at hidden ruts of frozen snow at the side of the road as I step out into the middle of the completely empty street. The silence is........ Well, it's complete, absolute, perfect. It's stunning! The sound of silence is....... stunning!

I stand alone in the middle of the street and no matter which way I turn I hear nothing. I resist a childlike giggle and the urge to shout something into the snow falling round me. It is only about 5.00 after all. I can't hear a thing. Even the sound that is a quiet but almost constant here - the A1 main East coast London to Edinburgh road noise - is absent. Usually you can hear lorries on the hill past the village at any time, day or night.

Nothing.......

I'm in a silence of snow.

I look back toward the house but I can't see it. I can probably see about 30 or 40 feet but not much more. I look at my fleece in the light from the streetlamp. It's covered in snow and my arms are completely white. If I stay out too long I'll be the best snowman for miles around. But the feeling is utterly beguiling. Soon though I begin to feel the cold seeping through the fleece and jumper and I know it's time to head back inside. I've not been out long but it's been enough and I turn to retrace my steps up the drive and around the house to the patio door at the side of the kitchen. I step inside having kicked the snow off my boots and I shake the snow off the fleece back out through the open door before closing it on the snowflakes that seem keen to follow me inside.

Time for coffee I think. But, as I sit down a few minutes later with the warm cup in my hand I can't stop the silly grin on my face.

That was braw!!!

Now I can wait for day to slip in through the night and the careful but exciting journey through the snow to Dunbar and my Lovely G's morning train.

see you later.

6 comments:

Morning's Minion said...

There is something about braving early morning cold and snow that is exhilerating--as long as it doesn't go on for any length of time!

Alistair said...

Ha - too true......

And the recovery is nice in the warm too isn't it....

The Scudder said...

Well what'ya know ... one of my fav Vangelis tunes as well. Al, you are a wonderful friend ,,, I've not been able to get out in this cold ,, it interacts with the chemo & does 'orrible things with pins & needles to my face, hands & feet ,,, but I came out for that early morn walk with you and it was truly magical .,., Thanks pal ! Oh & I giggled all the way too !!

Alistair said...

Glad to be of assistance Scudder.....

TwistedScottishBastard said...

Another good post Alistair, although I was getting a bit worried when I read the bit about the fur, until I realised you were talking about a cat.
You make the snow sound almost fun, but as I'm coming over to Scotland next month to see friends and relatives, and leaving a gloriously warm and sunny NZ, I realise how much I hate the cold. And porridge.

Alistair said...

Ooo-er......I see what you mean. That must be the teacher in you coming out. {at least I hope it's nothing else. Ha.}

I think they might have gritted the roads by the time you get here and don't forget porage is optional unless you're at your Grannies.

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