When the snow falls the whole world feels pure and clean – anything is possible. It feels like a time for a new start. I relish the chance to pull on my boots and march out under a winter blue sky to stamp my prints into deep, pristine snow, footseps crunching and a creaking.
When I read CS Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe many years ago, it was the description of Narnia in the snow that held my attention. The quiet in the woods. I never sensed the menace we were supposed to pick up, or the fear of the White Witch. That this was a winter without Christmas never concerned me one jot. Just give me the woods and the hills smothered in snow, ¬†and the glowering dark clouds snagging the treetops. I felt saddest when the snow thawed, and Spring returned. And there was something about a lion who popped along to help vanquish the ¬†baddies by being sacrificed on an altar. Something like that: I suppose it made for a good story.
And my favourite image from the book: emerging from the back of the wardrobe into that silence that only snow can create, and the symbol of that ¬†single lamp post, shining warmly in the gloaming.
And when the film came out, I was rooting for Tilda Swinton. I could watch the beginning of the film over and over again, and watch wee Lucy‚Äôs face when she emerged from the back of the wardrobe; I was there right alongside her.
So you can understand my delight last year when the snow fell in time for my 50th birthday, and this winter the whole of December. And it fell in Narnia proportions. Snow too deep to move the car for weeks; snow heavy enough to weigh down the bushes; bring down strong branches; lever off the guttering from the house, close the schools.
I was in Narnia. I live just a short walk from a wooded valley, with the water of Leith running through, and every time I walked the dog, I was in Narnia. Here are a couple of pictures to prove it. Emerging from the Dell late one afternoon, with the sun gone and the sky the deep blue of twilight into night, there was one street lamp visible through the trees. I wanted to see a faun skipping along the path, I wanted to find the wardrobe.
And the snow brought something else out – my neighbours. Suddenly, we were all out together, digging and shovelling the snow out of our drives, off the street, making piles along the kerbside. We were a team, chatting and laughing, the snow clearing crew. We extracted around half a dozen cars from their cocoons of snow, cleared the paths for our elderly neighbours. We got to know each other that little bit better, ev
en made new friends. A side of Edinburgh normally hidden, came out of its own wardrobe.
Now, the snow has gone, and we’re left with the ghosts. a lovingly created hillock of snow on the path is now a slovenly grey pile of slush in the way. It’s raining and damp.
But I will have had Narnia, the Narnia of Snow, and I have my memories, my photographs. In the uncertain world of climate change, I don’t know whether this is a new yearly pattern, or whether it’s the End of Snow.