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.