A colleague recently sent me this email which I thought I would share:
Well mother nature has given me a day off. Hooray!
For those of you not currently in the U.K. and therefore not subjected to 24 hours of heavy snow and 24 hour rolling news about heavy snow. I am telling you there is very heavy snow.
And all this snow has made us a very happy nation – firstly because we all love snow, and snowmen, and snow balls and sledging, secondly because we now have a valid reason for mentioning the weather and best of all because ‘severe conditions’ have given many of us a day off work. Yes we are very happy about the snow.
So this morning I have two very excited not-at-school children holding welly boots and a white, winter wonderland outside my window waiting to be explored….
We head for the park to join the hundreds of others who have happily not made it to school or work today. On the way I regret not buying the old-fashioned wooden toboggan that I saw after Christmas but once we arrive and position ourselves at the top of the hill next to the other sledgers I feel quite proud. Our upside-down coffee table toboggan is looking like a pretty good goer next to the competition which, aside from a few proper sledges, consists of dustbin lids, school dinner trays, plastic bags, a few road signs and the lid from a car’s roof box.
I could go on to talk about how the Make do and Mend resourcefulness of the emergency sledge builders was only a part of the joy of the day – there was of course the beauty of the landscape, the absence of cars, the community spirit, the collective celebration of our magical stolen day….. but I wont. I’ll stick to resourcefulness.
So we are walking home past the picture perfect Victorian houses where every landscaped garden sets the stage for its own showman snowman. All very traditional – coal from the hearth used for the eyes, organic carrot noses, tweed trilby hats and cashmere-looking scarves.
And then we come to the estate at the bottom of our road and as we walk along with flats on either side of us we don’t see any snowmen. This particular council block doesn’t have a landscaped garden to build snowmen in. So our ‘which snowman is the best?’ conversation stops and we are quiet for a while….Until Vera Lily suddenly shouts ‘LOOK! UP THERE’. And I look up to a fourth floor window to see a five foot snowman standing tall and proud on what must only be a 6 inch window ledge. He is very smartly dressed and has bright blue eyes made from what looks like knotted up plastic grocery bags and he is smiling to the world.
I stifle a still-instinctive swear word and instead say ‘oh my goodness! How did he get up there?’ Emmanuel starts to sing ‘Walking in the Air’ suggesting through the power of song that this man of snow flew up to his spot on the windowsill. ‘No’ says Vera Lily, trying to think logically, ‘some children came down and collected the snow from the street and took it up the stairs in lots of buckets and then they opened the window and built him there.’ ‘Their Mummy held onto them so they didn’t fall out I think’.
Whoever built his big fella must have, as Vera Lily suggested, brought the snow up through the flats. You just couldn’t collect that much snow from a windowsill or several sills. And even if these people used the lift rather than the stairs, that’s still a lot of effort – real over-commitment to the cause.
So I just thought I’d share this story with you all as a reminder that just because our ambitions are often bigger than our resource (or outdoor space) allow we mustn’t let cold, hard, windowsill reality to get in the blinking way.
That snowman is probably still standing up their wearing the proud smile of his creator – who imagined the impossible and then set about making it real. It took time and energy, heavy buckets, cold hands and the risk of a dark comedy death – but then that was quite clearly the joy of the Challenge.