In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone. Snow had fallen snow on snow, snow on snow. In the middle of winter one comes to expect snow and in certain places plenty of it. Snow is beautiful. It carpets any scene, any view and transforms it into an eye-catching and attractive picture.
Few people can resist looking out over a snow-covered landscape and be spellbound by it. The thick, white blanket that conceals all the blemishes and carbuncles that are ordinarily visible. A scrap yard which is full of rusting motor vehicles, broken washing machines and discarded fridges becomes an undulating cloak of unbroken snow. Those rough edges become smoothed. The stained soil is hidden beneath the sparkling coat. The world soon becomes a more attractive and an almost magical place.
As the first snowflakes begin to fall, that excitement still rises within most people. They are transported to their childhood and remember the anticipation of the snowfall. It might mean a snow day and freedom from school. It certainly meant snowball fights, sledging and building snow men. An infrequent opportunity to engage in something different in this marvellous winter wonderland.
It also evokes such keen images of Christmas, that most celebrated of seasons and therefore the link between snow and wonderful sensations and events is incredibly strong.Even the solitary snow flake is a thing of wonder. Perfect crystalline formations, each different, delicate and seductive.
They mesh together as the isolated snowflakes become a dusting and as more snow falls, the temperature lowered, the dusting becomes a layer and then a carpet which grows thicker and deeper. The world slows down to embrace this beauty. Everything looks clean, smoothed and beautiful. Noise becomes muffled and invariably silence reigns as if sound has agreed to be muted in silent reverence of the visual spectacular that is created by a snowfall.
When the snow first comes it is mesmerising, enchanting and makes everything seem wonderful. Of course being trapped beneath this frozen water is a cold and unpleasant experience. Over time it compacts and ices over, proving of little use for snowballs. Gone is the gentle fluffiness to be replaced by a hard-edged and potentially injurious surface that cuts if gathered into an ice ball.
The thick covering of snow brings chaos to transport, halting trains and blocking roads. Walking becomes hazardous and the very young and very old find themselves confined to their homes. The ice that gathers on power lines drags them down and cuts people off. This once beautiful weather phenomenon becomes costly and inconvenient. Plans are cancelled, events postponed and even the simplest of tasks become laborious. Even a thawing brings with it that damp, cold slush that chills and wets, increasing the risk of a traffic accident or slipping over.
The once white paradise becomes browned slush and sharp ice, neither being appealing. It freezes as the temperature drops again but has none of the beauty that preceded it. As the days become weeks this seemingly unending cold front with its legacy of ice and snow grows all the more unwelcome, yet its grip shows no sign of loosening, generating more inconvenience and misery for those who are isolated by it or consigned to having to deal with it. That once white magical landscape has soon transformed into something frightful and difficult. How easily the world changes from such mesmerising beauty into cold, hurtful bleakness.
Strangely familiar don’t you think?