Snow has taken over our lives this week. I can’t even quite remember when it started. There was definitely snow on the ground on Tuesday night as I recall crossing the field in the moonlight. It was nearly a full moon and felt almost like daylight. The sparkling snow reflecting the brightness. Reminded me of the White Nights I experienced as a student in St Petersburg.
But the “real” snow came on Wednesday. I was up in London, where it seemed much worse. Or perhaps it was just that I wasn’t prepared for the conditions? I’d swapped my wellies for more suitable “work” footwear, which left me skating along the London streets. As soon as my meetings had finished, I headed home.
Late that night we heard that the children’s school would be closed the following day. Such excitement. First time this has ever happened. (I went to the same school in the 1970s and I’m not sure we even had one.)
So we prepared to hunker down. Funnily enough, at my coaching session that day we had discussed my MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) preferences. My test had not given a very clear result. You’ll probably know that one of the dichotomies is Extraversion/Introversion. The test had me as an “E”. In discussion with my coach, we thought I was probably more “I” …
Well, my instincts over the past few days have confirmed this! My “E” friends were quickly on the phone to ask whether we wanted to play in the snow together. This surprised me. Hadn’t even thought of that! I was very happy with the idea of enjoying the time with our children in splendid isolation. In front of the fire. With a good book.
In addition, the coach asked me to self-diagnose my profile. Well, this process has – so far – been an internal one. Much reading and thinking; not a lot of group discussion!
The snow got me thinking about the other dichotomies, particularly Judging/Perceiving. This is the one about how you deal with the outside world. Put simply, it seems to be about whether you prefer to have things planned and decided. Or whether you prefer a more flexible and spontaneous life?
I came out as a “J” in the test, but only just. “J”s like to have things decided, are task-orientated, have lists of things to do. As do I, to be fair. But I am such a queen of the last minute that I could only really be a “P”. I always use all the time available to complete a task and am energised by an approaching deadline.
So back to snow. How did I feel when my plans changed because of the weather? Liberated. So “P”.
By Friday we were properly snowed in. We live on the edge of a country estate, where the main house is now in the care of English Heritage. A long drive leading to a farm track, about half a mile from the nearest main road. The wind had blown the snow into huge drifts on our drive. School was closed again and I cancelled my appointments in London. The children, with plans for the weekend which they wanted to keep, set about digging their way out. So with snow chains and shovels, we managed to get our car up to the main road in readiness. (In vain as it happened for the weekend’s activities were eventually postponed.)
Now, I know that all things are relative. When we lived in the French Alps, we had “proper snow”. And it is a standing joke that the whole of the UK falls to pieces at the first flake of snow.
Nevertheless there is something very connecting about extreme – or different – weather conditions. Snow stops us in our tracks. (I made it to the shop last night only to find that they’d run out of bread, milk and eggs!) We find ourselves talking to people we wouldn’t perhaps normally. Stepping out of our routine, our awareness is heightened. We enjoy the playfulness of snow (I defy anyone not to make a snowman or have a snowball fight!). On the other hand, we also reach out to others, keeping an eye out for souls lost in the snow.
Most of the snow has now gone. But we all feel touched by it and I’m sure there will be much talk of snow at school tomorrow. Like snow, kindness covers everything with beauty. And acts of kindness, like the 4×4 owners ferrying hospital staff to work in Bristol or people bringing hot food to travellers stuck in their cars, warm our hearts.
Thanks for reading!