There was a day - pre twenty-four-hour, wall-to-wall weather forecasting - when snow came by stealth. We would wake to a strange light in the bedroom and a strange stillness, as though the world were wrapped in cotton wool. We would draw back the curtains and gasp at the beauty and call out "snow!"
Now, of course, we know it is on its way. Meetings for coffee, shopping expeditions - all have the proviso 'that is if the snow isn't too bad.' And we know that there is a warm front creeping up the country and a cold front making one last stand down from the Arctic, and where they meet there will be snow.
So on my nightly 'back-easing' stroll around the house at 1.15am I pulled back the curtain and there it was, looking ghostly in the dark but covering the tops of the bushes in the garden. Drawing back the curtains at 7am this morning I had a better look. Somehow snow looks so much more exciting when the sun is out and the snowy world is sparkling. No such luck this morning - grey, misty and still sleeting, but not freezing.
The farmer, for ever an optimist, sets out as usual up the lane in the car to fetch the morning papers, closely followed by Geoffrey, our neighbour. Five minutes later they are both back - no papers yet, the paper van hasn't got through and the paper shop ladies are all standing about drinking coffee and complaining. So no Times crossword over breakfast, but a joyful expectation of doing it over coffee at lunch time.
We tell ourselves that this has got to be winter's last stand - it is March on Monday for goodness sake, we say - the snowdrops meanwhile endure being covered up once more - they have seen it all before Snowdrops - or to give them their proper name - Galanthus means 'milk flower' so they have really not been named after snow at all. But they weather whatever is thrown at them - and bring a few into a warm room and like the hazel catkins they open up and show us their real worth.
Today is my poetry reading day and I have chosen what I am going to read. Now of course it is in doubt, as it is one of those things with a snow proviso on it. I asked my son what he would read and he suggested Basil Bunting's Briggflatts. I had not read it before but am captivated by the language. So I leave you today with just a little snippet which looks forward to Spring and the May blossom beside the river Rawthey. If this does not lift your spirits I don't know what will.
Excerpt from Briggflatts by Basil Bunting (taken from Collected poems published by O U P)
Brag, sweet tenor bull,
descant on Rawthey's madrigal
each pebble its part
for the fell's late spring.
Dance tiptoe bull,
black against may
That's it for today, from a snowy Wensleydale.