Spring is here! The grass is riz! I wonder where the… oh. It’s still freezing. I wonder if one way to put a stop to this appalling, never-ending winter – other than flinging oneself on the next flight to Antigua - is to write about it. Whinging on in print about the rubbishness of the weather will surely instantly herald blazing sunshine and balmy breezes? Hmm, still raining, I see. Oh actually, that’s sleet. Let’s keep trying. “This is a very late spring indeed,” says the National Trust spokesman. No kidding, cupcake. Frogs are going back into hibernation, and who can blame them? I haven’t had a single conversation for months that didn’t revolve round fleece-lined tights. Little versions could perhaps work for frogs’ legs. And I have never before needed such a stiff drink after opening the gas bill, which was about the same amount as a flight to Antigua.
For years, it never snowed. As a child I prayed hopelessly every winter for a thick layering of the cold white stuff, but my prayers went unheard; now as an adult I pray for it not to snow, and the sky chucks it down non-stop. No wonder I’m an atheist. About fifteen years ago, during the era of usually-not-snowing, it snowed briefly, and though this was considerably too late for my childhood, I hadn’t yet become jaded. Man of the House and I squeaked with excitement and dashed from our Cooksbridge home into Lewes to buy two blue plastic sledges from Homebase, or Texas as I believe it was then. Of course, the snow had already melted by the time we got home, and the sledges spent the next decade forming a crucial bottleneck in the shed, preventing us from reaching the secateurs and other tedious gardening implements.
Our children have had a completely different experience. Since they’ve been sentient it has snowed pretty much every winter (and this year, in March as well). Global warming, natural climate variation, snow fairies working extra shifts, call it what you will, the kids expect snow as their birth-right. They gaze at us with disbelieving eyes when we warn them each autumn that it doesn’t always snow, that they should prepare for disappointment. Their disappointment preparation is very poor, I’m afraid; they would never get a badge in it like we 70s kids did.
So we’ve passed on the pristine blue sledges to the younger generation, who have a graded system of local slopes (Baxters Field, steep but crowded; Paddock, more space to build snowmen; Priory ruins, less steep, but exciting bit where you can either whizz through a gap in the wall or get concussion). This isn’t working at all because now I see the wind has got up, making the rain dance sideways. For goodness sake! I guess it is we adults who need to work on our disappointment preparation a little harder: we must get ready for there being no spring.
Beth Miller, 18th March 2013. Published in VivaLewes.com