Living backwards


Yesterday a friend  sent me pictures of her first snowman in 26 years. A little snow and I’m off to childhood days. In November I celebrated my 49th birthday. Today I’m just ten-years-old, hurtling down a hill, racing my sleigh against the other youngsters.

Walking through the forest, I find myself jumping into snow drifts, delighting in the powdery snow sticking to my trouser legs, creeping into my boots. Upon reaching the mountain top, I look over the white valley spreading out in front of me like a princess surveying her frozen kingdom. Half timbered houses dream suspended in time, feeble sunshine lights up trees and paints them in gold. Have I jumped into the middle of a Brother’s Grimm fairy tale?  The absence of colour seems to sharpen my perception of the world around me. Is that a little red choo-choo train racing across the horizon? Are those tiny yellow dots Mrs. Windmüller’s labradors?

I let myself fall into a slice of virgin snow and lie there spreadeagled, wondering where my skating boots have got to. When I was eight, I stayed out until dark,  pirouetting like a weightless balerina on a black lake.  Every sound around me seems magnified now. Birds tweeting, a dog barking at a neighbouring farm, the baker’s van driving through the village below. To hell with adult concerns like mortgages, unemployment, world politics and mountains of ironing to be done. There’s a frozen river down there and I’m itching to show off my skating skills.

I re-emerge into my 49th year round about the time when I slip crossing the road and land on my bottom. Squealing kids, mothers hide a smile behind their gloved hands, a bus driver gives me a friendly wave. Did that dog just grin back at me?

My knees creak, my back hurts, my fingers are frozen and I need to pee. Yep, I’m safely back in middle-age, where I belong. It was nice to take a little holiday.

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2 thoughts on “Living backwards

  1. Wandering down our deserted street at 4am the other night I was mesmerized by the slow dizzy descent of the huge white flakes, in the utter silence you get only when there is snow on the ground to absorb any sound. There was something comforting about it and somehow I didn’t feel alone or uncofmortable in the dark as I might have on an ordinary night.
    On a lighter note, everything is now covered in ice, and yesterday AT THE VERY MOMENT that I was congratulating myself on successfully walking into town and back without slipping over, a devious patch of ice decided to teach me a lesson. I didn’t quite fall over but I still had ended up doing that embarrassing wiggle-dance to keep my balance…undoubtedly much to the amusement of onlookers…then continued walking, futilely pretending that nothing had happened.

    • Hi A. del D.

      It is hard to imagine your home town covered in clean white blankets of snow…instead of the more usual torrential rain and soggy leaves. Perhaps wiggle-dancing down the street will become a discipline for the next winter olympics?

      This morning I began digging my way out of this house at 5.30am. The streets were quiet, the village still asleep. Only the newspaper lady had left her foot prints in the snow drifts. He short legs had created a child’s tunnel through some twenty centimetres of flakes. As I shovelled my way forward along the pavement, the wind rushed through the trees and tiny whirlwinds bagan hurtling down towards me. Engulfing me in microscopic icy shavings, turning me into a small snowman within seconds. The only thing missing was a carrot for the nose.

      Snow seemed to swallow all other sound. The scraping of my shovel on the ice under the white blanket seemed magnified, unreal. A strange start to the day.

      An hour later the snow plough cleared the roads and destroyed the magic. “Civilization” regained the upper hand…at least for a while…it’s late afternoon now and it has started to snow again.

      Keep wiggle-dancing!

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