Spring, she has not sprung just yet. I’m sure our relatives and friends in the northern U.S. are faced with similar frustrations at the moment. The longer days and the date on the calendar have you itching to get out the seed catalog or the baseball mitt or the spring coat, but the conditions outside still call for two pairs of socks on your feet and a bag of kitty litter in the trunk of the car. “Man makes plans while God laughs,” someone told me once.
Well, we make do and get on with it. The Bean’s Daddy ventured out this afternoon to a professional networking fair thingy in town, so she and I have had the snow to ourselves. Generally on a Saturday we head up the hill to the park or the duck pond. Every other Saturday a shop at the top of the park has a hog roast on and will sell you a delicious sandwich with stuffing and gravy and crackling. Eve loves this and refers to it as “the sandwich at the ducks”.
Around noon, while the wind was whipping snow horizontally past the window she announced “I want a go and walk for a sandwich at the ducks.”
I was reasonably certain it was an off-week for the hog roast, but I agreed. There’s a corner shop selling lots of candy right nearby there, and if there were no sandwiches on offer the Bean would probably be satisfied with “cholocate”, which is not something we keep in the house on a regular basis.
I dressed her sensibly: tights, two pairs of socks, heavy sweatpants, wellington boots, three shirts and a sweater, a coat, a windbreaker, scarf and hat and mittens, with the cuffs of the latter tucked into the elasticated wrists on the windbreaker. I know from experience that there is nothing worse than walking a mile in the snow with wind sneaking through the chinks in your armor at the wrists and ankles.
I also remember the struggles my parents had with my sister Joan, who would constantly pull off her mittens and boots, to the point where my frustrated father duct-taped them on her one day.
Off we set. The British haven’t really gotten into the habit of clearing their sidewalks when it snows, so I expected it to take a good long while. It took a good while longer because Bean was distracted by every undisturbed stretch of snow.
She high-stepped her way through the drifts that collected under people’s garden walls. She bent down on a regular basis to scoop up great sticky snowballs and chuck them at my butt. She carefully made mitten-prints on the puffy caps of snow that had collected on neighbors’ cars and hedges and gate-posts.
This last made me feel oddly uneasy, as if the Bean were trespassing on their property by marking up the snow before they could. That’s one of life’s pleasures, isn’t it: stamping your foot or your fingers into 6″ of virgin snow and hearing it cronch pleasantly, or writing your name with a stick? I reckon if it’s your house you have the rights to the snow. I’m probably overthinking this.
At any rate, we enjoyed ourselves, comparing footprints and handprints and avoiding the spray from cars on the Lickey Road. I only got a bit exasperated when she decided it would be fun to repeatedly “fall” into the snow and then pretend to cry. Her pretend crying is so supremely irritating that I feel a defense manufacturer could probably look in to ways to weaponize it. She deploys it on a regular basis, for instance:
- If asked to eat something green
- If told it is time for bed
- If told to brush her teeth
- When playing “dump trucks vs. fairies”, a new favorite game of hers
Many people were out with their dogs or their sleds (that is Yankee for “sledge”, you Englishpersons) and smiled benignly at the Bean as she barrelled up the hill in her red boots and her vaguely Henry VIII-style hat, a gift from Grandmama:
As I’d guessed, there were no hot pork rolls waiting for us at the top of the hill. Instead she was satisfied with a Malteaser Easter bunny, which she ate as we strolled back down to the house. “I eating his ears,” she said. Later she updated me: “I biting his face, yum yum.” As far as she was concerned it was mission accomplished. I had been secretly hoping for crackling.
I’m still hungry, but I’m satisfied with the outcome of the walk, too: almost as soon as I stripped off her wet clothes, she stretched out on the sofa and went to sleep.