The great freeze – beauty and benefits

The snow falls heavily late evening 5th Jan 2010

Last nights dispersal of our Week of Prayer activities seems to have born fruit, enabling 20+ people to participate in groups, a significant number of whom would have struggled to make it to church, and an unknown number who would have taken part using the sheet in the privacy of their own homes at some point if not last night – I know of at least two of these folk. This evening, the exercise has been repeated (though I have spent the evening planning Sunday’s 9am Service I’m afraid).

After 24 hours of constant snow finally stopped at about 1foot depth, we have just experienced 22 hours without power and telephone! Thus no light, heat (except, thankfully for a gas fire in the lounge) internet or modern communication. At 6.50pm-ish last night a radiant light sizzled and travelled the length of Monteagle Lane, reflecting bright blue light against the snow laden trees as the local transformer blew. Fortunately as I had just put dinner on the plate!

Monteagle Lane, Yateley just after noon 6th Jan 2010 - it was still snowing!

It has brought home to all 3 of us just how much we forget to appreciate these things, and how much we can cope without when forced to. Since we have no gas cooking facilities, neighbours with them have done things like give us flasks of hot water for hot drinks and warmed our lunchtime soup. We are incredibly grateful and where possible have reciprocated with a supply of rock salt I had bought last week.

A fellow member of St. Peter’s has also commented via email how interesting it is that people will greet and talk to each other cheerfully in these conditions, who would otherwise ignore each other or be travelling by car and never meet. We’ve slowed down to appreciate the good things in life – and we know perhaps, that we should really be like this more often.

Life has been more hard work – shovelling a foot of snow from our garden path and an adjacent alley, kept us nice and warm this morning. Life has also been much more friendly, and slow moving… people are walking everywhere, and stopping to chat – sharing whatever info they have about the state of the supermarket shelves and the progress of the 8 men it took to rebuild the transformer which finally got us switched on about 4.35pm tonight.

A Honey-ball more than a snow-ball (please click on images to 'size up')

Then there is the beauty of the landscape, and the fun to be had in it. Our local fields have some good slopes and sledges have been put to good use (C has been lent a fantastic German wood model which has provided he and friends with hours of pleasure). Honey, the short legged terrier, has turned snow plow and doesn’t know when to stop, even when the icicles hang from her coat. She currently lies exhausted and asleep on our sofa.

The birds are having a tough time of it, but we’re trying to feed them and make sure they get fresh water each day… which might be a struggle tomorrow, as we’ve at least -8 degrees C forcaste tonight. A Mistlethrush has taken advantage of our water, and we’ve clouds of Goldfinches appreciating the thistle seed. The most notable bird event is a female Blackcap seen yesterday and the day before – so notable I was asked to log it on the BTO Birdatlas! Alas, no photo’s yet.

Mid-afternoon 7th Jan 2010 near the Red Cross Centre, Yateley

One comment

  1. You’re right – snow changes neighbourhood relationships. The last time our road was easy to drive on was Thursday 17th December (the day of our first snow fall). Since then we haven’t seen anything but a covered road and pavement.

    In that time I have been out digging with neighbours. I have chatted with them too (I do anyway). I’ve offered help – cleared a route for one neighbour, given another some much needed fat balls to feed her birds – silly things like that.

    I’ve also had the chance to talk more to neighbours about my faith than ever before. I described our mercy mission of pushing a district nurse’s car to safety as practical Christianity – God tells us to love our neighbours so let’s get on and do it.

    Having said that, I’m pig sick of snow and dreading it when it starts to melt – we already have a layer of compacted snow / ice under the new thick layer of snow. I really don’t want more. It’s time to return to normality I hope.

    At the end of the day it’s been a great way to reinforce community spirit and get to know people in a deeper way so it’s been a good thing.


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