Snow has always been an adventure at Pond Cottage but this year it feels like an attack. Three weeks ago we only just managed to get away by digging a narrow track up the lane with the tractor. I followed Ray, King Wenceslas on a Kubota, as close as I dared, hanging on to the wheel while trees covered in snow leaned in to brush the screen, I could almost hear them muttering, “you’re bonkers trying to drive in this”.
The snow just kept on snowing. And when it stopped the temperature dropped and kept on dropping. Now the lane is so deep in hard packed ice the car has to be abandoned by the gate and even the tractor struggles to get past the house. The water is switched off at the road end to prevent pipes bursting. The house is only just above freezing but we never sit still long enough to notice.
Last New Year it was fun. Roaring wood fire inside, winter wonderland outside, every day a new ice sculpture hanging from the gutter by the back door. The snow was deep but soft and dry. This year it is maybe even more beautiful but the snow seems to have fallen harder and heavier on the trees. And it is not for melting any time soon.
It no longer feels like fun. In 17 winters at Pond Cottage we have never seen such damage. Branches snapped off or bent double and anchored to the ground by deep snow. One holly is laid across the path, leaves completely stripped by deer and rabbit. Oddly birches seem to be worst affected – sadly some young saplings have snapped in two – though you would think since they spread down from Scandinavia they would be equipped for this kind of weather. The Scots Pine look as if they are dressed for a walk on part in Lord of the Rings.
Back in Edinburgh streets have finally cleared just as a new arctic blast brings a fresh attack of white stuff across the rest of the country. Tonight’s news brings reports of chaos just about everywhere else. “Not a flake in Glasgow” says a phone message from Dougal . But what about Pond Cottage? I’m scouring the internet looking for the least threatening weather forecasts. BBC is about the best with light snow and lows of only minus 5 over the weekend. I’ll settle for that.
Soon we will be packing and preparing for another New Year and I am looking forward to bringing the cottage back to life. But I might never wish for a white Christmas again.