Coming from Finland but having lived in the UK for nearly two decades, I have a slightly twisted relationship with winter. On one hand, to me the real winter still means frosty trees and thick blankets of snow sparkling in the sun; on the other hand, I do appreciate not having to deal with icy weather for months or to try to perfect the skill of dressing so that you keep warm outdoors but not feel like you’re boiling when you go back indoors. (It doesn’t help that many Finns tend to keep the heating on high.) A few days of snow each year would probably be ideal for me but winters in Southern England are usually mild and damp. This year, however, I got my fix in Finland in early March when the days were getting longer and the frost had lost some of its bite but there was still plenty of the white stuff to brighten the landscape.
As I was put off cross-country skiing at school, I won’t go anywhere near skis, regardless how great the weather is. Luckily I like walking – and when I visit my Mum, I always get a very eager Lapphund to join me. (She does get distracted by fascinating smells and animal tracks but always catches up with me…eventually.) Although this time my trip included a couple of dull, grey days, I was also treated to some proper winter sunshine that was blindingly bright because of the snow. I’m glad I had my sunglasses on me. Is there a better way to empty your mind than enjoying a wide open landscape with birds tweeting and chirping, a woodpecker drumming to its heart’s content, and the snow itself softly crunching under your shoes? An icy crust had formed on top of the snow and although it wasn’t yet strong enough to take the weight of a person, it was definitely strong enough for a medium-sized dog. Long, shiny icicles and the snow sloooowly melting in the sun with a faint sizzling sound brought home that spring was on its way at last.
I had only been away for a week but the spring had sprung at home too. I had enjoyed the white winter wonderland and I was equally happy to come back to daffodils, crocuses, and pink cherry blossom. Maybe a balance is what I need: give me both snow and snowdrops!