Today’s Blogmas prompt is to show “Pics of where you live”. I don’t live in a Winter Wonderland and always get very nostalgic, around this time of year, for Winter and Christmas at home. I was a bit fearful, therefore, of what emotions might surface whilst writing about this and I found myself stumped as to what to do for this post. I then pulled myself together and went on a long, long journey in my mind, reminiscing about all my favourite Winter ‘moments’. I found the exercise quite therapeutic and, instead of making me upset and tearful as I feared it would do, it actually made me very happy and hopeful….determined that I will – we will – experience these things again!
My Winter Wonderland – the idealised Winter I have in my head – involves snow-covered Post Boxes and Telephone Boxes. Walks in shin-deep snow, slipping and sliding around whilst me and my brothers laugh and throw snowballs at each other (always hoping to manage to get a snowball down the neck, through the little crack between the scarf and jacket). Icicles hanging from bare tree branches, so cold when sucked. Spider webs frozen in time, the maker nowhere to be seen: a mystery always as to where the spiders go, where they seek solace (until I’m sent to the shed and find what seems to be all the spiders in my village in our shed!).
Birds feeding on the nuts and scraps left on the bird table; the unwelcome squirrel adding a bit of adventure – and noise – to the scene. Snow-covered holly, the berries so bright against the dull grey and white background. Popping out, offering false temptation to the birds. Bird and animal tracks in fresh snow, so quintessentially Winter, showing that they’ve been out, already, looking for food. Admonishing us humans, quietly, for not having left food already. The robin the bravest of them all, often seen on the doorstep or window sill, reclaiming it’s right to the food we always leave him (later than he would like).
Warm lights in windows, offering the promise of comfort and cheer. Memories of comical snowmen that used to make me chuckle, all over the parks in London: photos home, of them, to my Grandad causing many a happy hour between him and my Gran, both of them chuckling, as I had done, at the creativity of the builders. Thinking of them there, in their cosy home – source of my most precious childhood memories – warm and snug by the fire, thick socks on their feet, extra blankets around their knees and shoulders as they hug tight, watching their programmes or listening to Grandad’s music. Sherry in hand, a little dance before bed. Such a tender, faithful, example of love for us all.
My mind flicks to the Christmas lantern parades, my brothers so enthusiastic about making their lanterns, enthralled by the idea and the execution. Proud as punch, both of them, that they recreated the visions in their heads, proudly holding them as they walk along, in the parade, singing carols at the top of their lungs. A whole village, out in the cold and dark, joyous, singing praise, singing carols, a community together, lit lanterns brightening the sky, warming the cold that’s seeping in through your boots. Hot mulled wine to warm up, fuel for the walk home, up and around the winding lanes, in through the door to the smell of stew, mouth watering in anticipation. Belly full in satisfaction.
“It’s snowing”, he’d shout, “Get in the car!” and off we’d go, up to the Hills, whatever time of night, however bad the snow…sledges in the back. The risk worth the memory that would be cemented: the memory of sledging down the steep hill there – at our favourite place – sledging so fast, in the dark, watching deer amble by and hearing owls hooting past. He’d always somehow head straight for the ducks, disaster only averted because they – not him – were able to move out of the way….”Sledges aren’t very steerable”, he’d say, laughing his head off. Next morning, up bright and early, a true Winter Wonderland laid out before us. Virgin footprints on virgin snow, leading us in to the forest and a short walk across the fields to my other home, my sanctuary, my safe place.